Having been a *huge* fan of the original F-ZERO (released way back in the early 90s for the Super Nintendo), I was very excited to hear that Nintendo (in collaboration with Sega) was producing a new game in the series, and I picked it up last week just as it came out -- which I rarely do. (see also: Soul Calibur 2)
I can say now that Nintendo has produced an amazingly fun, fast-paced arcade racing title, certainly the best game of its type currently available. There is a huge variety of fantastically detailed tracks, 30 cars to unlock, and a challenging story mode to complete as you progress. The graphics are astoundingly detailed, especially considering there are often dozens of cars careening around (and off) the track at any given time. The game supports Progressive Scan (480p) if you have a TV that can display it.
The gameplay comes at you fast and furious, as the quicker cars regularly cruise in excess of 1200 km/h (about 900mph, or mach 1.5), and the game does an excellent job of conveying the sensation of speed. There is a new system of turbo boosters that allows you to get a boost of speed at any time after the completion of the first lap -- but using the turbo drains your vehicle's energy, risking a crash if you smack into too many walls or other cars. The tracks are brilliantly laid out (at least the ones I've seen -- I haven't unlocked all the hidden ones yet), ranging from a mobius strip cutting through a lush jungle, to a twisty road winding around crumbling egyptian-style ruins, to flat-out racetracks encircling floating casinos. Fans of the series will be happy to see a few classic tracks like Mute City rebuilt for the new game. The designs make excellent use of your car's ability to stick magnetically to the track surface -- many of them look more like rollercoasters than racetracks. One particularly memorable one has you racing on the outside of a giant set of metal pipes, while a raging pool of lava below sends gouts of flame leaping over the track.
However, the game is *extremely* challenging, particularly the story mode missions. This is sort of unusual: I expect the upper levels of the racing mode to be insanely hard, but normally you use a story mode to ease people into the game and *not* to make them pull their hair out! The first mission is a nice, easy introduction to the game, and then the second is ridiculously hard -- and the next few aren't much easier. In another strange move, you have to unlock the story mode chapters by earning "tickets", either by playing the racing mode or by getting good enough times in the Time Trial mode (you also get tickets by beating each story mission, but not enough to unlock the next one by itself :/). The same tickets are used to buy extra cars and parts to customize your vehicles -- which is annoying, since it means you have to choose between playing the story mode and unlocking new cars and parts to use in the GP (until you get good enough to tackle the higher difficulty settings, where the rewards are more plentiful.)
An interesting feature is that you can take a memory card from your GCN and plug it into the upcoming "F-ZERO AX" arcade machine, which will allow you to use your custom cars in the arcade, as well as unlocking various new tracks, cars, and upgrade parts when you return home (you can also unlock them by beating all the hidden tracks in the GCN version on the highest difficulty setting, but as you can imagine, that's quite difficult.) If one of them shows up anywhere near me, I'll be sure to give it a shot and report back. Several games have tried things like this in the past, but without too much success (at least in the states, where good video arcades are a dying breed).
In short, F-ZERO GX is a fast, challenging futuristic racing game that gets a strong recommendation for all racing and F-ZERO fans. However, be warned that it can be quite frustrating at points -- don't get this for anyone with a short attention span.