Fast RMX review

‘Fast RMX’ isn’t quite the ‘F-Zero’ revival you’ve been waiting for, but it’s close

Fast RMX’s “switch” mechanic and eclectic library of levels reinvigorates its dormant genre.
Fast RMX’s “switch” mechanic and eclectic library of levels reinvigorates its dormant genre.
Fast RMX’s “switch” mechanic and eclectic library of levels reinvigorates its dormant genre.

Highs

  • Frantic speed
  • Widely-varied tracks
  • excellent “switch” mechanic
  • Weirdly great difficulty ramping
  • Excellent value

Lows

  • Bare bones multiplayer
  • HD Rumble is ineffective
  • Bland sounds, music

After a flurry of boosts, we’re careening down a dip in Cameron Hills, a raceway perilously suspended in the stratosphere. We’re propelled into a semi-enclosed underpass lined with three boost pads: orange, blue, orange. With no time to think, our ship fizzles, losing speed as we cross the orange pad. Before we even reach the second pad, six ships whizz past me.

The constant threat of going from the podium ceremony to the back of the pack in a split-second harks back to nerve-wrecking sessions of the Nintendo sci-fi racing series, F-Zero. While it shakes things up just enough to attain an identity of its own, it’s hard to avoid seeing that storied series in Fast RMX’s perpetual adrenaline rush and zany track design.

That isn’t the only reason it might seem familiar: Fast RMX is actually an enhanced version of Fast Racing Neo, a 2015 Wii U eShop game. RMX features 14 new tracks, bringing the total to 30, and new versions of its original tracks. Yet Fast RMX feels more like the third leg of developer Shin’en Multimedia’s homage to high-octane sci-fi arcade racers, than a remix of old content.

Like F-Zero, Fast RMX excels as a futuristic anti-gravity racer that stresses quick reflexes, speed, and forethought of your surroundings. Fast RMX’s screaming pace requires your unblinking attention, and it earns every moment that it holds you.

Up the speed, up the fun

All great arcade racers, particularly those in the F-Zero and Wipeout vein, hinge on amplified, unceasing speed. Fast RMX is no slouch in this department. Even when keeping a nominal pace, your ship barrels forward at dizzying speeds. Precise, slick controls keep the pace from becoming unruly.

Fast RMX resonates the most when you are, well, going fast. Thankfully, the game boasts 60 FPS in both console and handheld mode, and even at expert speed, there are no noticeable framerate drops.

Adding a layer of complexity, elongated blue and orange boost pads are scattered all throughout each course, adding an Ikaruga-style color matching component. Your ship has to match the color of the pad to kick you into overdrive. If you clash orange with blue, the boost pad will have the reverse effect, taking the wind out of you instead.

Fast RMX’s screaming pace requires your unblinking attention…

The orange and blue dichotomy also extends to the orbs that fill your boost meter. The orbs switch colors, filling your tank when you nab one that aligns with your ship’s color. As the speed heightens, knowing when to manually give your ship an extra push in the claustrophobic tracks is paramount.

The mechanic, which has been featured in everything from platformers to shoot-em-ups, feels at home on the racetrack. The constant switching, while searching for pads and power-ups, makes the game feel like a more active experience. Plus, it’s rather fitting that the most defining mechanic of the Switch’s first racing game literally involves a seamless “switch” of ship phases.

Amusement park thrills

Stringing together that perfect boost chain is rewarding in itself, but the gameplay is generously complemented by a wide array of levels, each of which feels markedly different than the last. The eclectic library makes each of these courses a new experience — Parts of the track are in perpetual motion, and there are numerous obstacles to avoid, from boulders, to death rays, to bizarre four-legged mechs.

Fast RMX

Many courses are fragmented, requiring you to glide across open air, and align yourself with the next section for a safe landing. Occasionally, color-specific gaps and barriers stand in your way, and if your ship doesn’t match you’ll crash. If that isn’t enough speed and tension, many tracks feature some risky shortcut, which require a perfectly timed boost and a leap of faith off the track.

Every track features mercilessly sharp turns and elevation changes, but even tracks that don’t have, say, breath-defying jumps, separate themselves by setting. From shiny, futuristic skylines to forests to desert terrains to snowy mountains, Fast RMX takes you across the world and beyond. There’s also shifting weather conditions such as rain and dust to account for, and intermittent threats of falling off the road to always be conscious of.

Mostly a one trick pony

While blinding riveting speed and excellent levels feel great, they cannot hide the fact Fast RMX doesn’t have the robust feature-set to keep the magic alive for long.

Each of the 30 tracks feels wholly unique.

The main mode, Championship, contains 10 cups with three tracks a piece. As you notch victories at novice difficulty, advanced and expert formats unlock, as well as new ships — 15 in all. Once you get the hang of the speed, you can try Hero Mode, an expert test of endurance that ends your run if you hit too many walls.

While these modes are satisfying, it’s strange to see an arcade racer in 2017 without a quick race option. When flying solo, you only have the option to compete in cups or die a thousand deaths in Hero mode. This means that if your favorite track is the last leg of a cup, you’ll have to play the other two courses first. There’s no other way around it.

Alone on the track

Similarly, Fast RMX’s multiplayer varies wildly depending on which of the Switch’s many controllers you decide to use. While you and a friend can compete using the console’s individual Joy-Cons turned on its side, doing so restricts both players to six buttons and one analog stick, causing inadvertent inputs that are hard to overcome in a game that stresses precision.

This isn’t a problem if you have extra Joy-Cons or a pro controller, in which case you can play with multiple full-sized controllers. Better yet, with two Switches you can connect and play over over a local network.

Even under the best of circumstances, though, the game’s online multiplayer offering feels bare-bones. Online races feature 2-8 players, with only one game mode: quick play.  There is no lobby, matchmaking, or method for playing with friends, and there’s no rewards or skill system to track progression, save for a points system that is meaningless because of the absence of leaderboards. (This could be related to the Switch’s generally lackluster online infrastructure).

It isn’t often that a racing game is more engaging as a single player experience, but here we are.

Our Take

Fast RMX offers consistently satisfying anti-gravity racing, and its diverse course design catapults it to the upper echelons of the F-Zero umbrella of racers. Fast RMX adds a layer of simple, yet effective depth, making it a worthy, if light addition to the pantheon of arcade racers for both casual gamers and those looking for a challenge.

Is there a better alternative?

No. until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launches in April, 2017, Fast RMX is the only racing game on the Switch. Further down the road, a second F-Zero-style racer, Redout, will come to the Switch later this year. Wipeout: Omega Collection will deliver a similar experience to PS4 in 2017 as well.

How long will it last?

Depending on your skills, the Championship series should keep you occupied for 5-10 hours, and the ridiculously challenging Hero mode should keep you going for quite awhile. If you have extra controllers, split-screen multiplayer is also worth a few hours of your time. There are also plans for adding a time trial mode and the ability to race with friends online post-launch, which would increase the game’s online potential.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Racing fans, and particularly F-Zero fans, should take Fast RMX for a spin. It’s one of the best launch games for Switch and it’s only $20.

Deals

Miss Black Friday but still need an Xbox? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.
Smart Home

Porch pirate problems? Keep them away with these tips and tricks

The holiday season is fast approaching and the packages are arriving on our doorsteps. Are you worried about porch pirates stealing your gifts this holiday season? Here are some tips to help protect your purchases.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Computing

If you work in an office, you should know how to recall an email in Outlook

Writing out angry emails can be cathartic, but it's best not to send them. If you do though and you're running Outlook, there is a chance to take it back -- if you act fast. Here's how to recall an email in Outlook.
Gaming

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Gaming

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Gaming

The Epic Games store is already luring indie studios away from Steam

The Epic Games Store is less than a week old, but it's already making waves among indie studios. Multiple studios have announced that their games will be timed exclusives on the Epic Games Store, with one studio forgoing Steam completely.
Gaming

Bundle up for the huge ‘Monster Hunter: World’ expansion coming in 2019

Monster Hunter: World is getting a major expansion in fall 2019 called Iceborne. The expansion will be similar in scope as the Ultimate versions of previous Monster Hunter games, featuring new quests, monsters, weapons, and armor.
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can browse profiles, trophies, and other content directly on your mobile device.
Deals

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Gaming

Itching to fight in an online match with friends in 'SSB Ultimate'? Here's how

You can play online against your friends in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it isn't quite as simple as you might expect from a multiplayer game in 2018. Here's how you can do so using the Battle Arena system.