The next track on our greatest video game soundtracks playlist is taken from the Gamecube’s F-Zero GX.
Track: Shotgun Kiss (Casino Palace)
Game: F-Zero GX
Composer: Hidenori Shoji and Daiki Kasho
Year: 2003 (game release) 2004 (soundtrack release)
The F-Zero series of futuristic high-speed racing has been dormant for over a decade now. Yet it has managed to remain in the minds of video game consciousness via cameos in two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises; Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart. Although its inclusion in Mario Kart 8 – which took a considerable amount of inspiration from the series – seemed like a weird tease for a franchise that Nintendo supposedly has no intention of doing anything substantial with. However, with the Nintendo Switch arriving next year maybe there is once again a possibility for the series to rise again, like a phoenix.
In the meantime, F-Zero GX on the GameCube (or playable on the Wii) still holds up magnificently today with its widescreen support and 60FPS. This early collaboration between Nintendo and Sega demonstrated what could be done when Nintendo brought in external influence. The resulting gameplay is challenging yet rewarding, with impressive technical performance and quality. It is possibly because of the aforementioned elements that the music sometimes gets overlooked (or should that be underheard?).
The soundtrack is split into two CDs. One features music from the core game, such as; tracks, menu screens, specific events etc., which is composed by Hidenori Shoji. The other contains 41 tracks, each corresponding to an individual racer present in the game. These tracks can also be heard in-game when viewing the character profiles.
Some players might miss the characters profiles, but they are an excellent piece of world building, as each character has a detailed back-story describing their motivation to race in the galaxy’s most dangerous sport. The accompanying music helps to further personify each character, with each track coming from a suitably different musical genre. Mighty Gazelle is accompanied by a rush of electronic beats to correspond with his android reconstruction, whereas superhero Super Arrow has a rousing rock ballad worthy of any, albeit slightly cheesy, futuristic hero, who happens to be an excellent race driver.
For most people though, the track music will be what sticks in their minds. Series classics Mute City and Big Blue both return, but have their recognisable melodies extensively reworked. Despite this they are no less memorable, especially for those new to the series. This was an inspired choice as it creates a level field for all of the tracks, meaning they will stand out based on their own strengths, and not simply due to nostalgia. Brand new tracks such as Casino Palace features the expressively grandiose “Shotgun Kiss”, which is a marvel when racing through a giant casino that, unsurprisingly, seems to take inspiration from a Sonic game. This track also possibly best represents the tone that F-Zero GX achieves, that being a bright and bold future, which also happens to have darkness lurking underneath.
Music taken from the F-Zero GX/AX Original Soundtrack
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