For years we’ve been without some of the greats when it comes to the racing genre. Remember when there was a new racer every other week, whether it was the short-lived Jet Moto series, Wave Race, any number of arcade home console ports like San Francisco Rush or Cruis’n? Even the most stalwart and time-tested franchises like F-Zero and Wipeout are completely gone, and the last Twisted Metal bombed enough where we likely won’t see much vehicular combat for a while. It’s a sad state of affairs, but a small handful of indie developers have been keeping the dream alive. Fast RMX is one of those games that feel like they’re from that bygone era, but is built from the ground up with modern sensibilities.
Created as a semi-sequel to the criminally underrated (mostly because no one actually bothered to buy a Wii U) Fast Racing Neo, RMX is a hodgepodge of several “far-future” racing games with absurd environments and a huge focus on speed. It takes all 24 tracks from the original and adds six of its own, along with improved visuals and all of the other fixings you’d find with the Nintendo Switch like tablet play that still runs at 60 frames-per-second. Between unlocking every track, completing all ten cups (with you guessed it, three tracks per cup), and earning all 15 vehicles, there’s a lot to keep you busy if you’re going at it solo.
I’m amazed that they were able to make it look so good as an eShop game. The tracks, locales, and cars are all very sleek, and don’t have an air of any other property, as developer Shin’en Multimedia was able to create their own distinct style with Fast RMX. The big thing is the consistent framerate, on top of the array of visual options that allow you to swap between a blurrier look and a sharp one.
The way racing works is a perfect blend of arcade action and simulation, as movement is precise, with some boosting shenanigans on the side. Players can swap between two polarities—blue and orange—at will with the press of a button. While it doesn’t matter what state you’re in most of the time, each track is littered with boost pads of either colour, in the flat strip or upward mobility variety. Swapping colours allows you to gain some extra speed or some air, depending on whether you’re driving on top of the former or the latter type. Tiny dots also feed your manual boost, which you can use at any time.
It’s easy to pick up and understand (just change colours and you’ll go faster), but some of the later levels take this concept to the next level with their layouts. Do you go upwards and risk heading into an area where the rails are missing off the track, or go below in a safer zone? Add in corkscrew turns, upside-down racing, and big jumps into the mix and it gets even more complicated. Again, all of these intricacies hinge on the colour swaps, which is brilliant.
Pretty much every concession for multiplayer is in. Whether you want to go at it on the TV or the tablet is fair game, as well as online play. Hero Mode is the cherry on top, which is a tougher difficulty that ties your boost to your health. It’s the perfect “extreme” alternative if you’ve mastered all the cups and tire of beating your friends. And if you play enough you might, as there’s a pretty high skill ceiling when it comes to knowing when to boost.
It sounds like blasphemy, but if F-Zero is truly dead and buried by Nintendo, I hope they consider just giving Shin’en Multimedia the reigns. No interference, just some minor IP oversight, and let them do their own thing. They clearly know what they’re doing, and have jammed a fully-fledged racer into a tiny eShop pricepoint.