Shortly after the planned, but never materialized relaunch of the Virtual Boy with games like Bound High and Dragon Hopper, another software highlight was going to follow with Zero Racers. We all know what happened to it, due to disastrous sales, the Virtual Boy died a fast and silent death, and with him possible must-haves like the games mentioned above. A prototype definitely exists, because the game was previewed by Nintendo Power.
Zero Racers is a sequel to F-Zero on the Super Nintendo, but differs in one important point from its precessor and all F-Zero games released afterwards. Instead of racing futuristic tracks with not less futuristic racers, in Zero Racers another dimension is being made use of, and this time you take seat in verhicles strongly resembling spaceships, and speed through up- and down-, left- and right-turning tunnels. Still the same is the power gauge, which decreases a bit with every collision, but can be reloaded by flying over an energy track on one edge of the tunnel, mostly near the finishing line. Losing to much energy lets your racer lose speed, and eventually, if you reach the bottom of your energy bar, you end up in an explosion.
Optically the game comes along in speedy wire-frame graphics, which instantly lets you think of Red Alarm; tunnels and racers, it all consists only of red lines. Indicators showing your speed, lap times, position, energy and turbos, as well as a map of the track frame the action happening on the screen.
You can choose one of four different vehicles, which all have different attributes, so there should be the right vehicle for every player and every track. Falcon, Stingray and Goose are already known as Blue Falcon, Fire Stingray and Wild Goose from F-Zero, but instead of Golden Fox, Origammy joined the crew. The paper light Origammy with its perfect acceleration and cornering is the best choice for tunnels with a lot of turns, with a top speed of 862 kph and its weight, Goose’s domains are high-speed tracks, Falcon is a good all around ship and Stingray has better cornering, but a slower acceleration than the Falcon.
Zero Racers offers 2 modes of play. In “Grand Prix” mode, you have to race one of 3 circuits with 5 tracks each, which makes a total of 15 race tracks. Before each race, the “VTR” mode additionally gives you the chance to check out all the obstacles and difficulties of the track while the camera makes a complete lap through the tunnel. The “Practice” mode allows the player to prepare for a Grand Prix without other racers in the tunnel and to go for best times.