Gamers as a whole tend to be creatures of habit, and I am no different. We all have our favorite game genres that we stick to with little deviation while excluding others. I tend to not enjoy racing games; meaning I don’t pay attention to them much. Ok, more like not at all. When I was asked if I’d like to review FAST Racing Neo on Wii U, my first question reflected both my interest level and knowledge of current racing titles: “Sure. What is it?” Though I journeyed into the game with trepidation, I am very happy to report that my worries were completely unfounded.
FAST Racing Neo is a futuristic racing game for Wii U by Shin’en Multimedia and is the second in the FAST Racing series which started on the Nintendo Wii. You play a faceless racer of antigravity vehicles in an all too familiar future. In the run up to release there came the inevitable comparisons to Nintendo’s own future racer F-Zero, but to me it is obvious that FAST Racing Neo takes most of its cues from the classic Wipeout series. Simply remove the weapons and you have FAST; that is not a bad thing.
Graphically, the game is simply amazing. Shin’en Multimedia extract an amazing response out of Nintendo’s first HD system, giving the polished title phenomenal visuals. The game runs at a near perfect 60 FPS, and I never once encountered any slowdown or frame drops. The 16 tracks are quite varied, with numerous short cuts and options for smart drivers while being very detailed and interesting. The developers made the game really stand out with great little touches like water streaming off your vehicle and hitting the camera lens, or a giant spider mech in one level that can blow up your car as it walks along part of the track. The vehicles are colorful in that sleek, streamlined style that is so reminiscent of Wipeout and modern scifi starships like the Normandy of Mass Effect. These are easily in the top tier of the Wii U graphical quality and really showcase what this, somewhat maligned, system is capable of.
While I personally prefer to worry about gameplay over graphics anyway, FAST Racing Neo does manage to stand out in both categories. As befitting a racing game, the gameplay is fast and frantic, with a fairly tight control scheme that is simple yet holds underlying complexity. It has the standard “Accelerate/brake/boost” inherent to future racing games, but with a very interesting twist. Pressing “X” or the left bumper changes your “phase” between blue and orange, allowing you to use the boosting panels on the tracks themselves. If your phase color matches you get a very strong boost that doesn’t use up your saved boost meter, while a mismatched color can really slow you down. It’s not a hard concept to grasp, but it adds a lot to the game beyond the standard “run over this arrow to go faster” trope.
You have a dedicated boost button which is powered up by collecting floating spheres as you race. You use the ZL/ZR buttons to lean left or right, helping to make tight turns easier — personally, I enjoyed using them to knock opponents into obstacles or away from boost panels. The only thing I can say against the gameplay is the lack of a handbrake/powerslide button in favor of the lean controls. It did take some getting used to. It’s far from a deal-breaker, but it did prevent me from saying there is nothing wrong with the gameplay.
The game is an excellent bargain for the $15 asking price. The main championship mode has three “modes” that are essentially easy, medium, and hard, with each mode having multiple cups to play through. After beating a cup, you unlock “Hero” mode which applies new challenges to the previous tracks to keep things fresh. Online multiplayer is one of the best selling points for the game, and the is split-screen local multiplayer pits up to four players against one another, which is so perfect for a game in this style. The standard time attack mode rounds out the offerings, completing the “required racing game” setup rather well.
I greatly dislike the arbitrary numeric score system of most reviews as those numbers can be so subjective, so I’m sticking with an objective answer: this game is worth every single penny of the asking price. If you are a fan of arcade racing games, I cannot recommend this title enough. Shin’en Multimedia crafted one of the best futuristic racing games out there and one I’d say is worth the money at twice the current price. It’s a solid experience from start to finish, with more than enough to keep you interested. If you have even a bit of a interest in arcade racing goodness, and have a Wii U, you simply must check out this game.
This game was provided by the developer for review.