Rediscovering the Thrills of Extreme-G

Author: Greg Lozano

I don’t exactly know when the bug bit me. I played F-Zero on the SNES and honestly favored Mario Kart 64 to the speedy racer, but the moment racing went into a 3D space, I knew I had a very different taste when it came to my racing games. I loved the lightning-fast reaction time that was called upon me at every twist and turn, getting to venture through loops and inversions, and just zoning you in a way where the outside world did not even exist. Fans of PlayStation had Wipeout in 1995, and an F-Zero game wouldn’t make it to the N64 until 1998, so Akklaim took it upon themselves to fill the void with their arcade-style hit Extreme-G. The best way to explain Extreme-G is: take the idea of Mario Kart as a racer with items to attack your opponents, and then strap it to the fastest roller coasters you ever imagined, all while accompanied by a soundtrack that would even make the Wachowskis (creators of The Matrix series) proud. Thanks to Nintendo’s N64 expansion on the Switch, the game is available, and I was curious if it still held up. And while I did play this game on a Pro Controller, I was impressed that the controls translated so well and the game played as amazing as I remembered it to be. This game did have a bit to be desired as far as replayability, but the number of options and cheat codes a person can unlock by beating a circuit was enough to keep a group of friends entertained for many after-school sessions.

The N64 and PSX weren’t exactly known for the best controls, so oftentimes, remembering games of that generation is like looking into the past with rose-tinted glasses. This was not the case with Extreme-G. The moment I started up the game, I was quite pleased with how responsive it was when I entered into a race. It took a short while to get comfortable using a controller that has never been used for that game or that generation, but surprisingly enough, I picked it up within a matter of minutes. Not long after that, I found myself getting first place often in the campaign mode, that was, until I tried the harder settings. As the difficulty ramped up, it was obvious that the AI was programmed to engage and attack more, which was a nice surprise. Generally, game difficulty was adjusted on the speed for most titles, but not this one. Here, if you were slow, you weren’t getting first, even on its easiest setting, and that was just the learning curve of this game.

Then there’s the music. When I tell you that there were songs that have played in my head decades after the game’s release, I am not lying. I would remember sitting in the living room with my brother and friends while we went head to head, shooting missiles at one another, trying to get first place. It got to a point where when the song entered my ear, I would search for it on YouTube and listen to its entirety. I could swear that a surge of adrenaline would course through my veins as my memories would capture those twists and turns. Hell, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack while typing this review, and honestly, nothing gets me more pumped than Track 8; something about it just makes it feel like you’re racing for your life and you’re ready to do anything to win. I could narrate a story because of that song, which shows how powerful a track can be.

Ultimately, one of the only disappointing things about the game is that there are only three circuits, and while there are multiple difficulties, there isn’t much incentive to play once you have unlocked them all. While each circuit and difficulty will give you a new cheat code in making races a bit different, all there really is to compete against is one’s own best time, or partake in multiplayer (which honestly is incredible, especially now since you can play online). This is one of those games that is fun to come back to every once in a while, but unlike many games now, it isn’t one that I may find myself spending hours upon hours playing.

If you have the N64 expansion for the Switch, this is a title that I do recommend you check out if you’re into fast-paced racing games. The speed, the music, the surge of satisfaction you get by looping through a track that isn’t flat is so worth it. Play solo to unlock as much as you can and then invite your friends over. If I was going to have a day where I would invite friends over to have an N64 play day, this would easily be on my list of games we’d have to play. I am incredibly grateful that this made its way onto the Switch library, otherwise I’d have to track down an N64 and this game.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top