Retired Nintendo artist and designer Takaya Imamura, who helped Nintendo create The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Starfox characters like Fox McCloud, said to IGN that the Nintendo racing series F-Zero isn’t dead. It’s just a series that is “hard to bring back” without a “grand idea”.
Imamura stated that the pinnacle of the F-Zero series was F-Zero GX. However, that was 18 years ago and was on Nintendo’s Gamecube. It’s been three gaming generations already and we haven’t seen a new entry since.
“Of course, I’ve thought about it many times, but without a grand new idea, it’s hard to bring it back.”
He did share how F-Zero GX was created.
“I think it started with [Amusement Vision’s] Toshihiro Nagoshi proposing the project to Miyamoto. I really liked Daytona USA (which Nagoshi produced), so I was honoured to work with him. We had an arcade system board called Triforce which was based on the GameCube’s architecture, so when Nagoshi proposed doing an arcade version of F-Zero, I was really happy, as I had always been a fan of arcade games.
Back then, Nagoshi was the top of Amusement Vision, a subsidiary studio of Sega. I don’t think many people outside the company were ever allowed inside the actual development offices. Companies don’t usually let people inside their development offices, but they showed me the arcade cabinets they were working on, which has become a special memory for me,” recalls Imamura. “Nagoshi had a professional darts machine in his office, which I thought was very stylish. In those days, Nagoshi still had long hair, but he was already quite imposing.”
But Is It Hard To Bring Back?
No, it’s not. Most Nintendo games and franchises usually come back after a few long years, not close to two decades. And the sequels still have the core game intact with minimal tweaks and changes. Were there “grand new idea(s)” that powered the Kirby series? Or the Paper Mario games? Or the Mario Party games for that matter?
And even if Nintendo’s internal dev team are out of ideas, why not partner up with devs like Capcom and Bandai Namco to reinvigorate the series? Make it an open-world racing game ala Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon 4, or a semi-Grand Theft Auto style game with its colourful cast of characters, but keep high-speed racing as the main focus? See, it’s not that hard to come up with a grand idea; it just needs a lot of years to develop and give it that Nintendo touch.
I think there’s a stigma behind the F-Zero games internally, much like the Metroid brand. The difference is the latter had its chance with Metroid: Other M, and has a new Metroid Prime in the works (behind the scenes via Bandai Namco).