Nintendo's futuristic racing series makes its GameCube debut courtesy of Sega's Amusement Vision, a developer best known to arcade fans for Daytona USA and to GameCube owners for Super Monkey Ball. More than 30 characters and their vehicles established in the first two console versions of the game return for this third installment, including Captain Falcon and his aerodynamic hovercraft known as Blue Falcon.
The emphasis is on racing at high speeds through 20 courses featuring jumps, corkscrew loops, and intersections. Instead of continuing the sparse landscapes of its predecessors, F-Zero GX features entire cities and animated backgrounds that move independently of the action. Multiple forks and splits are available, as are 360° tubes and dramatic drop-offs. Four-player competition is once again supported against up to 30 rivals, and players have the ability to transfer information from the GameCube version to the coin-op game, entitled F-Zero AX, via memory card.
Modes of play include Grand Prix, Time Attack, Versus, and Story. The last is new to the F-Zero series, and features Captain Falcon as he embarks on a series of missions and challenges in his bid to become the top pilot in the galaxy. Courses are a mixture of new and old, with redesigned versions of Mute City, Port Town, and other familiar venues complete with variable weather, neon lights, billowing smoke, towering landmarks, and sparks whenever players come dangerously close to colliding with other racers or obstacles.
While zipping along the futuristic courses, players must keep a watchful eye on their vehicle's energy meter, which depletes with each turbo boost and collision with either the track or another racer. Pit stops as well as repair ships are available on each course to help keep the vehicles running, but at the cost of time associated with the docking or refueling process. After each race, the points earned from avoiding crashes, smashing rival vehicles into fiery wrecks, and achieving top finishes can be traded in for ability-enhancing parts.