- Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
- Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
- Release Date: March 3, 2017
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Playtime: 20 hours
- Acquisition: Purchased by reviewer
An enhanced port of the Wii U game, Fast Racing NEO, Fast RMX is a futuristic racing game. This upgraded port starts off speedy and only picks up from there.
On Your Mark
Fast RMX improves over the Wii U version in almost every way. The game contains 30 tracks: 16 from the original game, 8 from its DLC, and 6 brand new ones. Each track is very distinct, sporting a deep and detailed environment.
Tracks also contain unique elements, further distinguishing them from each other. Players will travel through the lush forests of Kenshu Jungle, the bitter tundra of Antarctica, or the fiery depths of Hibashira Speedway. There are also some shortcuts that are fun to discover. The enjoyable variety in the tracks keeps the game from becoming repetitive, making it hard to stop playing. The game instead promotes the phrase, “Just one more race”.
Each track is its own environment which is really fun to explore. The environments look great when racing, however, if one slows down to take in the sights, some things don’t look too good. The sea in Mueller Pacific is particularly messy.
Shin’en created well-designed tracks that handle the high-speed gameplay. On a few tracks, there are hazards that are unfairly difficult to avoid or jumps that are seemingly impossible on certain speed classes. These are exceptions though to the magnificent raceways.
Fast RMX has fifteen vehicles in total, of which five are brand new. Even the returning vehicles have been changed with different color combinations. Vehicles are measured by 4 stats: top speed, acceleration, and weight, along with the new boost stat, which improves vehicles’ balancing from NEO. Each vehicle controls a bit differently from the last, and it’s fun to test them all out, finding the best fit.
The Element of Speed
Fast RMX consist of three classes: subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. Subsonic, the slowest class, is already pretty fast, while hypersonic speed is incredible. There is a significant increase in speed with each class, making each transition very satisfying.
To turn at high speeds, players can use the trigger buttons to lean. Leaning is an important tactic to utilize in order to make sharp turns. In addition to managing various twists, turns, and jumps at high speeds, there are other mechanics that players must master.
Players can earn a boost upon collecting small orbs on the track. These boosts can be used after collecting one orb which further speeds the pace of the game. Players can also save boosts, opting to use them all at once or to speed up after a crash. This adds an interesting element of strategy to the game.
A final mechanic to master is phasing. With the push of a button, players can change phases from blue to orange and vice versa. Corresponding blue and orange strips also exist throughout all of the tracks. If the colors of the vehicle and the track match, then the player gets a boost.
If a player misses their timing and the colors are wrong, then they slow down until they switch back. The same goes for various jumps scattered throughout courses. Phase changing along with boosting requires the player to think while they race. This mechanic differentiates Fast RMX from other futuristic racers.
The way vehicles interact is interesting too. Boosting into another racer causes them to spin out. Leaning into racers is also a good option to gain an advantage. Finally, blocking opponents from the front is a great way to slow down their momentum while increasing your own. These subtle options add strategy and give skilled players more opportunity to perform well.
Fast RMX may seem complicated and overly fast, but it’s surprisingly intuitive and easy to get the hang off. A player new to the series can quickly become accustomed to the many challenges the game throws at them.
Becoming A Champion
Championship mode is the game’s main showcase. There is no story or anything like that; Fast RMX instead focuses on the racing. There are 10 cups in total, with only 3 races in each cup. This prevents players from getting discouraged if they fall behind because by that point there’s usually just one race left.
Subsonic is the only speed class unlocked from the start, with the others unlocked by clearing a certain amount of cups. Cups are cleared by placing in them. Similarly, players unlock new vehicles by placing in cups. Most vehicles are unlocked in the subsonic speed class. This negatively affects progression, as there is nothing new to unlock in the second half of the game other than tracks.
Fast RMX is far more lenient than NEO; the rubber-band AI is far less prominent if it’s still there at all. Losses never feel unfair as opposed to the first game. At the same time, RMX manages to be aptly challenging.
The difficulty curve itself is noticeably weird. Earlier cups are fairly easy, while later cups take many more attempts. However, moving up a speed class resets the difficulty. Early cups in subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic are almost equally difficult, while the later cups on subsonic are harder than the earlier cups on hypersonic.
Most people play through each speed class in order, especially given the format of unlocking tracks. Given this, the game goes from easy, to difficult, to easy, and so on. This is bizarre to experience. Furthermore, it forces players to attempt certain tracks more than others despite quality being consistent.
Fast RMX’s homage to F-Zero is Hero mode, returning from NEO. This time, it’s available from the start. Like it’s inspiration, Hero mode combines the boost meter with the vehicle’s shield. Boost strips, in addition to giving speed boosts, now charge the meter as well. Players can boost at will, but they have to manage their shield, too. Any bump, hit, or crash, no matter how small, will lower the meter and eliminate the player if it drops to zero.
It’s not enough just to survive. To succeed, the player must reach first place. It may take a few tries, but the rejoiceful “Hero!” from the announcer at the end combined with the sense of achievement is more than worth it. Hero mode takes place over single races, making it a fun, deep mix-up from championship mode.
Share the Joy
Besides playing solo, players can also hop into the fun local multiplayer that Fast RMX offers. Up to four people can play on the same Switch, which raises to eight in total if each player has their own Switch. For some reason, split screen and LAN play are not compatible. For example, six people with two Switches would not be able to all play together.
Local multiplayer has various choices, which is nice. In addition to choosing a cup, players can choose a random cup, a track, or a random track. Unfortunately, all of these choices are mysteriously missing in single player. There is no way to select a specific track except on Hero mode.
Fast RMX’s online is fairly lacking as of now. The racing itself is actually pretty smooth, but some important online features are missing such as allowing players to choose their speed class. This is a huge oversight, especially considering that players could choose between all three speed classes in Fast Racing NEO. Furthermore, it’s impossible to play with friends online, unless merely by chance.
Shin’en has promised an update coming soon that will bring online friend support along with time trials, which is also notably absent. Perhaps the update could also add different online speed classes or even profiles — biographies and songs specific to each machine — which came with NEO’s DLC.
Something great about Fast RMX is how little time it takes to get into a race. It boots up instantly to the title screen, and six quick button presses later, the race begins.
The graphics are also a huge improvement from NEO. Fast RMX runs at a smooth 60 frames, even in four-player split screen. In addition, the game runs at a dynamic 1080p in the Switch TV mode.
The soundtrack consists of high-energy electronic and dubstep music, one song for each track and then some. Tonally the music fits the game, though it’s not particularly memorable.
The only subpar aspect of the game’s presentation are the poor crash animations. Sometimes vehicles will explode right through obstacles like they are ghosts, other times they’ll plop into water with little splashing. Jarring and unrealistic, the weird crashes negatively affect immersion. Considering that crashes are fairly common, these are even more noticeable.
The Future is Now
Fast RMX is an incredibly fun and satisfying game. The high speeds combined with unique mechanics force players to multitask, resulting in deep, intense racing. Furthermore, the varied track design and diverse environments enlighten the experience.
Online play is disappointing and the difficulty is strange, but overall the game is fantastic and a huge improvement over Fast Racing NEO. Fast RMX is a great addition to any Switch owner’s collection and is absolutely worth the low asking price of $19.99.
All media was captured by the reviewer