F-Zero X boosts onto Nintendo Switch this week with online play... sort of

F-Zero X promotional image
(Image credit: Nintendo)

N64 classic F-Zero X is finally boosting onto Nintendo Switch Online this month, by way of the premium Expansion Pack tier that grants players access to a selection of Nintendo 64 titles.

The futuristic racer is launching on Nintendo Switch soon after The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and much like other multiplayer games on the service, it can be played online – well, kind of.

Announced by Nintendo via its various social channels, F-Zero X is officially coming to Expansion Pack's N64 collection on March 11, which is sure to delight fans of the retro racer, and give newcomers a glimpse at the highly regarded series, which has been gathering dust for the past 15 years or so.

As mentioned, F-Zero X will also support online multiplayer via Nintendo Switch Online, but be warned that it's nothing bespoke. As is the case with Mario Kart 64, F-Zero X is simply adopting its split-screen multiplayer for use online. This means that, unlike modern online titles, you'll still see everyone else's perspectives while playing. We'd obviously have preferred something a bit more unique here, but then we're happy that we can play this N64 classic online at all.

Arguably one of the best things about playing F-Zero X on Nintendo Switch – aside from the fact that it's a remarkably slick game that's aged very well – is that it's compatible with the Nintendo Switch wireless N64 controller.

While stocks of the NSO member-exclusive controller remain scarce, it's arguably the best and most authentic way to play F-Zero X if you own it – although the game's controls aren't all that complex to begin with, so your Joy-Con or Nintendo Switch Pro Controller will get the job done just fine, too.

Death race

F-Zero X is the second game in Nintendo's long-dormant sci-fi racing series, and was released in 1998, eight years after the SNES original. Unlike the vast majority of N64 games, F-Zero X is notable for running at a buttery smooth 60fps for the vast majority of gameplay.

This sort of performance comes at a cost, though, and track detail is sparse, backgrounds are comically low-res, and the fearsome, futuristic vehicles you race in look like they've been repurposed from cereal boxes. But there's a certain charm to the low-quality visuals, and it's a fair trade-off for a frame rate that's much higher than was typical for N64 games.

It's absolutely packed with content, too, featuring 30 racers that gradually unlock as you complete cups (all 30 of which race at the same time on any given track, too). And while we wish Nintendo had gone the extra mile to include the Japan-exclusive track editor released with the short-lived 64DD disk-drive add-on, there's still plenty here to keep racing fans hooked.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.