While the Nintendo/Sega co-production of F-Zero GX for the Nintendo GameCube is well known and beloved for its intense difficulty and flashy sense of speed, few fans of Captain Falcon's last racing adventure have played the game's arcade counterpart, F-Zero AX, and experienced its unique tracks and cars. Most intriguingly, AX machines feature a slot for GameCube memory cards that can write AX data for use with the home GX version. Given enough time, skill, and money, it's possible to unlock the entire set of AX elements for play in GX. Here's how the official F-Zero AX website describes the functionality:
By inserting your Nintendo GameCube Memory Card into the appropriate slot in the F-Zero AX arcade unit, you can take any of the F-Zero GX machines stored in your garage (including your custom machines, complete with emblems) for a spin on the AX courses.
With your Memory Card in the F-Zero AX arcade unit, you'll receive 20 tickets (to use in F-Zero GX) every time you play. The AX vehicle that you're using will also be downloadable automatically to your Memory Card so you can use it in your GX game. If you're racing a custom machine built with an F-Zero License Card, theparts that make up the machine will be downloaded to your Memory Card instead.
It's understandable why I've been searching for F-Zero AX for so long: there's another F-Zero game locked up inside my copy of GX and I have to set it free! For the past nine years I've chased the ghost of F-Zero AX around my home state of Florida in a desperate attempt to locate one of the few working AX machines in North America (online apocrypha pegs the exact number at somewhere between twenty and six depending on the age of the source). Rumors and aged forum postings led me to the alleged homes of arcades that featured AX, but I was always too late. Running down AX rumors has led me to the site of a new highway that was built atop a former arcade, to a vacant building full of dust and debris, and to, seriously, an actual crater crammed with the remains of a demolished building. Just when it seemed that playing F-Zero AX was one of those gaming goals I'd never achieve, I learned about a small arcade tucked away where I'd never expected. Last week I decided to investigate and see if the stories were true, so I hit the highway and made the drive down the long stretches of expressways, local roads, and finally little unmarked service drives. Friends, I'm happy to say that I finally found F-Zero AX.