The classic Nintendo 64 title F-Zero X has a lot of eyes on it these days, particularly from the game enthusiast hacker community. With memories of BGNG's F-Zero X track editor still fresh in our minds now there's word that another fan out there who calls himself "fzeroman" has discovered something special buried in the original F-Zero X code: the custom car capabilities of the Japan-only F-Zero X Expansion Kit. Thanks to fzeroman it's now possible for fans of the game equipped with a GameShark to hack their own custom F-Zero racer together in a matter of seconds. How is it possible and what else could be lurking in everyone's favorite N64 racer? I recently had the chance to ask fzeroman these questions and more. Read on to find out just what other treats are locked away inside F-Zero X.
MattG: What I'd like you to do, fzeroman, is introduce yourself however you see fit. Explain who you are and what you do and what brings you to the world of F-Zero. Go into as much or as little detail as you like.
fzeroman: I'll just start off as: Hey, I'm fzeroman. I've been into F-Zero ever since F-Zero X came out. I'm not much at competing with the top racers, but I'm there. I started hacking F-Zero X about three years ago; it was all just a little test to see what I could do.
MattG: What led you into F-Zero hacking and what F-Zero hacks did you start with?
fzeroman: It was a test to see how I could change the track to make it more challenging. I started with F-Zero X and I don't think I'll go into the other ones. I'm disappointed that for a hack device on the Nintendo GameCube all we have is Action Replay.
MattG: How did you hack your way into the Expansion Kit material locked away inside F-Zero X? Did you specifically go in search of it or did you come across evidence that there may be more material hidden in the game data?
fzeroman: When I first discovered car modifying data it was a year after I started hacking it, and I saw that a lot of codes were wrong for the machine name mods, so I worked on them to get it right so I could have "fzeroman" in the game. The car parts were right under my nose the whole time because the body, boost, and grip mods were already found. I searched tirelessly around all addresses one by one to find anything, but mostly crashes or op-codes happened, or some weird effect to the car would happen. I first thought the codes would be three separate addresses for each character/machine, but I was wrong. When I found a code that changed the Blue Falcon to a custom car, I found that each machine had an address that could be changed to its 'default car' , 'special car', and 'custom car'. Then I searched around the body, boost, and grip mods again and found values for the custom car colors, symbols, decals, fronts, rears, wings, etc. I screamed in joy when I found it.
MattG: How much have you been able to streamline the custom car construction process? Can you put together a new car by just slamming elements of the code together, or is there still a lot of work involved in the process?
fzeroman: I have all the addresses to change whatever colors and parts I want. It's all done in an emulator and the addresses are Gamesharked, so it works for mostly everyone. I have it all in a list so all I have to do is click, choose, and see what I create. I was working on a simple program once to allow users to see the car they were building and get codes afterwards, but I had to put that aside recently. [NOTE: fzeroman's aborted program could possibly merge with fellow hacker BGNG's F-Zero X track editor program in the near future.]
MattG: How much evidence (if any) of the game's ability to connect to the Expansion Kit did you find? I'm curious if Nintendo cut the data for the 64DD connectivity from the non-Japanese release.
fzeroman: I really don't know, I've found a lot of data textures, areas of the game that have "64DD" on them, but I can't access them. The only stuff that seems at all accessible is the custom/Super Cars. The only problem I've had is getting car shadows and booster to match the customs, as most of them are there just difficult to align.
fzeroman: Super Cat, Super Stingray, Super Falcon are all little upgrades from the original White Cat, Fire Stingray, and Blue Falcon: better stats and control, all grades are at A, etc. Also, each machine also has a new picture of each pilot.
MattG: Are the Super Cars from the Expansion Kit or just unused data overall?
fzeroman: They're originally only accessible from the kit.
MattG: Do you fear reprisal from Nintendo for making this information available? Especially now that they may revisit the F-Zero X Expansion Kit in the future on the Revolution download service?
fzeroman: I'm mad at them more than worried about what they might do because they could of made this accessible instead of trying to rip off the fan base by creating an expansion with another part of the system that needed to be bought. With all the compression they could of allowed access to the car editor at least. As far as reprisal, if that happens... I mean, they have no reason not to allow users to use the best track editor ever made. F-Zero hasn't received much praise or respect in America. I mean, first we get duped out of the expansion, F-Zero GX has custom parts only for Japan, and if we wanted them we would have to cheat and wouldn't be able to compete in online rankings. F-Zero Climax didn't even make it to America, so were duped out of yet another track editor.
fzeroman: Honestly, I'll stick with F-Zero X for now. I think there's more to be found. As a joke there's a code that positions your car to the sky, and if you press the accelerator it'll launch into space. I've also found codes of a beta Blue Falcon, but its buggy as hell and within that same code some cars have less polygons.
MattG: Finally, to wrap things all up: given the chance to open up any video game from any console era and explore it, which game would you pick and why?
fzeroman: I don't know. No other game interests me very much. Maybe Mario Kart DS if we ever get a hacking device for it.
Want to try fzeroman's F-Zero X custom car codes for yourself? Then head on over to MFO where he's posted the complete list of the GameShark codes needed to make the whole thing work and don't miss the photo album of other custom car creations.