Nintendo's latest entry in its Nintendo Switch Online-exclusive Battle-Royale-style series — which includes Tetris 99, the dearly departed Super Mario Bros. 35, and the soon-to-be dearly departed PAC-MAN 99 — returns a fan-favourite racer to a Nintendo console for the first entry since 2004's Japan-only F-Zero Climax.
F-Zero 99 takes all the high-octane Formula-Zero action of the original SNES game and adds online multiplayer with up to 99 players battling it out across a variety of racing modes. It's an addictive and complex game, and you'll need all your wits about you if you want to climb the ranks and make it to the podium.
It's a tough game, though, especially if you're not familiar with the original. In this F-Zero 99 guide, we'll cover some basic advice to help you get to grips with the vehicles, including tips and tricks, how to corner successfully, how to use your Super Boost and the all-new Skyway effectively, and more.
F-ZERO 99 Guide - Tips & Tricks
In this guide, we've split the tips into Beginner and Advanced sections. All the information may be useful, but if you're an F-Zero veteran you may want to skip to the Advanced section.
First things first, though.
Which ship should I pick?
Personally, we think Wild Goose is a good early-game vehicle, but you'll want to use the Practice mode and try out each one to find your own personal favourite.
All the ships come with familiar plus points and caveats — here's a rundown of the basics:
A good starter, a classic all-rounder:
Has good acceleration and more Boost potential at the expense of grip:
A damage sponge that can take more of a beating than the others. Slower acceleration but increased grip:
Has the fastest top speed and best cornering of all the machines, if you're skillful enough to stay at max speed. One for the pros:
Here we'll lay out some general F-Zero 99 tips useful to pilots both new and rusty.
Use the Practice mode to learn the courses!
Seems obvious, but if you're not familiar with the circuits, use the Practice mode and get familiar with them!
Get a starting Boost
Press 'B' to accelerate just before GO appears at the start of the race and, yep, you got boost power.
Sorry, that'll make zero sense to series newbies, but, ahem, F-Zero sense to veterans.
Oof, on with the tips!
Slow down on the recharge strip
If your Power Meter is low, there's nothing to stop you slowing down in the Pit Area if you need some more juice for the next lap. Better to be safe than sorry.
Slow down in general!
Of course you want to get around the track as fast as possible, but with 98 other pilots crowding the track, don't be afraid to slow down a little and let the pack thin itself out.
Hanging behind the leaders also means you can collect more Super Sparks (the yellow orbs) that drop when machines collide, which you can use to ascend to the Skyway — more on that later.
Slowing down will also, naturally, make cornering much easier.
Try tapping the accelerator around the bends
If you don't want to use the brake (‘Y’), try tapping the accelerator as you take a corner — it'll give you better traction on the bends.
The game itself recommends releasing the 'B' button entirely when you corner.
Use the Speed Boost on the straights...
Knowing when best to use a regular Speed Boost ('A') can be tough, and experienced drivers will be able to deploy it successfully at almost any time.
However, if you're starting out it's best to stick to the straights so you don't go ricocheting off the barriers, completely wasting your boost and, likely, heading to early retirement.
...or to 'shortcut' over rough patches
On some tracks (Mute City 1, for example), you'll quickly notice people boosting over the slow-down 'gravel' patches. You should probably do that, too.
Collect the Super Sparks
Those yellow orbs (Super Sparks) are the key to filling your Super Boost meter and ascending (temporarily) to the Skyway track above the main circuit. Make sure you collect any along your path.
Bump the big golden car for more Super Sparks!
That big shiny gold bumper car that appears periodically? Bump into it for a bunch of Super Sparks and fill your Super Boost Meter quicker.
Don't forget your Spin Attack
Tapping 'ZL' or 'ZR' sends your vehicle into a brief spin. Hitting other racers using this Spin Attack will take a chunk off their Power Meter and potentially lead to a KO if their energy is low enough. Spin Attacks operate only after a short cooldown, so watch for the meter to fill up (or listen for the audio cue that signals it's ready).
Spin Attacks can also be used as a defensive measure to ward off marauding racers and give them a taste of their own medicine.
Spin Attacks recharge instantly after hitting a jump ramp
If you're approaching a Jump Plate and your Spin Attack is charged, you may as well hit 'ZR' or 'ZL' before the ramp as it'll instantly top up your Spin Attack meter when you hit it. You just might get a sneaky hit in.
Here we outline a few slightly more advanced tips and strategies you'll need to employ if you want a chance at a podium finish.
Use the Skyway strategically
Look for opportunities to avoid tricky sections of the track by boosting to the Skyway at a strategic time.
For example, there's a particular 180-degree turn in Sand Ocean that's always a total pile-up. Even if you're the world's finest pilot and negotiate the corner perfectly, you're guaranteed to take multiple hits that slow you down regardless. Saving the Super Boost for this section has seen us jump dozens of positions in a matter of seconds.
Tight turning, drifts, and slides
Hold down 'L' or 'R' to drift on those 180-degree bends. This activates a slide that you can also use on the straights to make minor adjustments to your racing line.
KOs come with multiple benefits, so DRIVE DIRTY
Knocking out another pilot does several things, all of them good (for you).
KOs instantly refill your Power Meter, extend your Power Meter, AND give you bonus points at the end of the race. If you're racing in a Grand Prix, the Max Power remains for the following race, meaning more boost energy and/or more resilience to collisions.
A strong offence really is the best defence, so watch out for flashing racers and show no mercy.
Watch for the orange arrow
Keep an eye on the little arrow at the bottom of the screen indicating if someone's coming up behind you. Granted, this can be a challenge when the track is crowded, but it can be a lifesaver if you're low on Power and some chancer gives you a rear-end shunt. Use the Spin to repel the blaggards.
Slow and steady doesn't win the race...but it might win the championship!
Remember that when it comes to the Grand Prix, crashing out on the third lap because you over-boosted or got overly competitive with a Rival will kill your championship run. Obviously, you want to be the fastest thing alive, but sometimes you've got to play the long game.
Try to remember the bigger picture when you're chasing that podium place in individual races: Is it worth risking it all now? Perhaps it is, and if you're a good enough racer, this advice will become less relevant over time. But the bright spark that burned out in Race 2, Lap 3 isn't getting any of the glory — or the points.
How do Rivals work?
You're given four Rivals to beat per race. Simply, these are random players that happen to be near your skill rating. Beat them in the race and you'll increase your rating, lose against them and you'll slide back.
Do these ship customisations and badges affect anything?
Only how cool you look. All the unlockable customisation options (Colors, Decals, Boosts, Badges, etc) are purely cosmetic, so head to the Workshop and go wild.
Will F-ZERO 99 be removed from Nintendo Switch Online?
We hope not! But as we've seen, Nintendo isn't averse to removing even its big-name Super Mario Battle Royale from the service, so we certainly wouldn't get too attached to this one.
If there's a sliver of hope that this won't be retired after a year or two, it's that F-Zero 99 was an internally developed, cross-company project with Nintendo Software Technology heading up development (as evidenced in the credits, which you can watch at any time from the Options menu). Conversely, development on all the previous entries in this loose series was primarily handled by external company Arika.
Whether the fact it was developed internally makes any difference, only Nintendo can say. You might argue that Tetris 99's continued survival is down to its function as a marketing tool which periodically hosts tie-in events to new releases. F-Zero doesn't have that brand of cross-promotional potential, perhaps, but let's all cross our fingers that Nintendo sees fit to keep this one alive for a long time to come.
Hopefully you've found this F-Zero 99 starter guide useful. If only we could have come up with 99 tips and tricks, eh!? We'll no doubt be updating this guide as we play more of the game. Let us know below if you've got any to bolster the pack.