It has been a little over 14 years since SEGA went third party, and while at the time it was a shock to learn that the company would be releasing games on once rival consoles, now most fans have grown accustomed to third party SEGA. In fact, it has been so long since the announcement that now we have a whole new generation of fans who pinpoint a third party SEGA game as their introduction to the company! I’m not one to use the tired expression “I feel old”, but that realization almost makes me want to utter it (almost). Back in the early 2000s, when third party SEGA went into full swing, fans were seeing the likes of Crazy Taxi on PS2, Sonic Adventure on Gamecube, and Jet Set Radio‘s sequel JSRF on the Xbox. Shocking, sure, but nothing could give SEGA fans whiplash like the announcement that SEGA’s own Amusement Vision team were to develop a new game in a fully Nintendo owned classic franchise – enter F-Zero GX and F-Zero AX.
While SEGA’s arcade skateboarding title Ollie King is often given Smilebit credit, as mentioned in our kick-off retrospective, the title is still very much an Amusement Vision game. Still, given the Smilebit talent involved in Ollie King‘s creation, I can easily see why people make the mistake. Hell, I thought the game was a Smilebit arcade game until I played it for the first and only time at a GameWorks in Schaumburg, Illinois back in 2005 and saw that “AV” logo. While Ollie King‘s art style and graphics are very much in the same style as Smilebit’s JSRF, and what really pushes the Smilebit feel over the edge is the incredible soundtrack from SEGA music veteran Hideki Naganuma. Not only does the game feature original tracks including pulse-pounders like “Boarder 70”, “Let It Go”, and “Too Fast”, slower celebrative tracks like “Funk to the Top”, as well as the lovingly wacky “Brother Goes Away”, the game also features two remixes of original tracks from Jet Set Radio Future!
When SEGA made the announcement that they were going third party, a lot of fans felt the pain of not seeing SEGA games on SEGA hardware anymore. But that pain didn’t last long, as over the next few years SEGA would release a slew of modern day classics to the Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo Gamecube. Each console had their own unique games, and each could claim a certain SEGA IP. While Xbox and Playstation owners had the more adult Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragoon games, the kid friendly Gamecube had the Super Monkey Ball series. I’ll admit, as a PS2 and Xbox owner at the time, I wrote the Super Monkey Ball games off as kiddie nonsense. Boy was that a mistake.
As we hit the halfway point of the Year of the SEGA Developers, we turn our attention to a favorite of ours: Amusement Vision. Okay, so being a SEGA fan site, every SEGA developer is our favorite. But just look at Amusement Vision’s portfolio: imaginative new games like Monkey Ball and Ollie King , follow-ups to classic franchises including Space Harrier’s Planet Harriers, Daytona USA 2001, and Spikeout and Virtua Striker sequels. Amusement Vision also holds the distinction of being the first SEGA developer to take on a Nintendo franchise with the much loved F-Zero GX and F-Zero AX.
As is customary for a developer month kick-off article, join us as we look back on how Amusement Vision came to be, their library of games, and where the staff are now!
First lets talk about why F-Zero GX news is posted on a SEGA blog, if you didn’t already know the game was developed by Amusement Vision (SEGA AM4) the guys that did games like Super Monkey Ball and later Yakuza series. Did you also know that F-Zero GX used the Super Monkey Ball engine?
F-Zero AX is the name of the arcade version of the game, which was developed along side F-Zero GX for GameCube. Well, it happens that the full arcade version was hidden away on the Gamecube disc of F-Zero GX and if you have an Action Reply or Gameshark, you could online the game. You have to check out the Retro Collection lists of codes, that will get you started. Though as pointed out by some YouTube comments, there are subtle differences from the arcade version. Probably never completed and was scrapped as an unlockable?
Hello and welcome to your weekly dose of potential SEGA Sequel Awesomeness (yeah I did just say that). Before I get started on Episode 14, though, I’d like to give a shout out to another pretty amazing sequel that has nothing to do with SEGA. As anyone who has been following my Twitter likely knows by now, I’ve been seriously loving the new Mortal Kombat game. If you’ve ever been a fan of the Mortal Kombat series, especially games 1-4, I’d definitely recommend checking MK9 out on your HD system of choice, really a lot of fun.
Anyway, without further ado…this is one I’ve been wanting to write since last week, when IGN’s Martin Robinson did an article celebrating the Amusement Vision-developed F-Zero GX. After reading his piece, what I had always thought in the back of my head was brought completely to the surface: I don’t think a new F-Zero game could be as good as GX was without SEGA’s Amusement Vision back at the helm.
IGN’s done a feature today celebrating F-Zero GX, and how the collaboration between Nintendo and SEGA arguably made this game the pinnacle of the F-Zero series.
F-Zero GX was much more than a mere continuation of the series, though. SEGA’s blue sky thinking brought vibrancy to a world that previously treaded murkier waters, and it did so with style. Powered by SEGA’s Triforce arcade hardware – for which Nintendo’s GameCube provided the foundations – F-Zero GX lent Nintendo’s world a robust makeover.
It was also unmistakably a SEGA game. Amusement Vision was the team behind F-Zero GX, headed up by a Toshiro Nagoshi who was fresh off of making Super Monkey Ball, and its outlandish backdrops owe much to that game’s colourful fancy. Neon clowns loom above Casino Palace, a gigantic ROB controller gyrates in the background of Port Town and giant sandworms dance across the skies of Sand Ocean.
The courses also bear that indelible SEGA stamp. They’re extravagant, often torturous and as memorable as a pop classic, a fact that can be accredited to its creator’s methods. During the game’s development Nagoshi likened designing tracks to penning a rock anthem; each should have its own rhythm, complete with chorus, middle eight and a hair-raising solo.
To check out the full article, head on over to IGN.
Nice read and a celebration of one of the best racers I’ve ever played. I’m also proud to say that I did manage beat all 7 challenges in the Story mode…well, on the normal difficulty setting, anyway.