F-Zero GX: Very Hard/Master Mode FAQ
Version 1.0, Tuesday April 13, 2010
F-Zero GX and all characters, places and settings within are the
intellectual property of Nintendo. All rights reserved.
Table Of Contents
III: Story Mode
IV: Master Mode
IV-I: Ruby Cup
IV-II: Sapphire Cup
IV-III: Emerald Cup
IV-IV: Diamond Cup
IV-V: AX Cup
As great a game as F-Zero GX is, its reputation as one of the hardest
games the Nintendo Gamecube has to offer is well-deserved. The purpose
of this FAQ is to give you a more in-depth look at the game's two
biggest challenges, Very Hard in Story Mode and Master Mode in the
This guide will assume that the reader is experienced enough in the
game to have unlocked these modes: Very Hard mode on any Story Mode
level is unlocked by beating the Hard setting, which is previously
unlocked by beating the normal setting. Master Mode is unlocked by
beating the first four cups in Expert mode, which while difficult, is
not deserving of its own FAQ like Master Mode is.
II: Strategies to know:
Snaking is generally considered an advanced-level technique, but it's
not hard at all to learn. Using it effectively and steadying it,
however, is another story. Set your balance all the way to acceleration
beforehand, and once you're up to speed, hit R and right on the control
stick simultaneously. Then hit L and left simultaneously, then repeat
the process. You should see short flashes of red sparks from your
machine's underside if you're doing it right. Try to get a wave motion
going. The result: you go much faster than normal or even when
boosting. Crashing into sides or objects is very easy, so focus is
required at all times to excel with this technique. This extra speed is
incredibly advantageous in some stages, allowing for a margin of error
where a non-snaking run would allow nothing short of Wavebird-smashing
perfection. More about its downsides later, though...
Your rival is the racer with the closest amount of points to you,
either the second-place racer if you're in first overall, or the
closest one with more points than you, if you're not in first. Killing
rivals widens the points-gap and allows for more leeway in case you
An honest warning:
Snaking consistently is an incredibly strenuous task, both mentally and
physically. The grip and continuous strain almost required when snaking
for long periods of time - IE, the usual period of restarts upon
restarts that some of these stages will put you through - can cause
serious physical damage if used in excess, including Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome. Please, take breaks if/when your hands start to hurt from
So, I've included two different stratagems for some stages where
snaking is an applicable strategy: one that involves the technique, and
one that doesn't. If one or the other isn't included, that means that
it's simply not a viable strategy, either because the stage design
doesn't allow for it or because it's not worth doing when the other is
so much easier.
III: STORY MODE
CAPTAIN FALCON TRAINS
The rundown: Falcon is tirelessly training on Mute City in hopes to
claim another championship victory. On Very Hard, that entails
collecting 35 capsules on the Sonic Oval course within a minute.
Strategy: don't be fooled by this being the first stage; on very hard,
the supposed training mission will feel like anything but. With an
item-to-time ratio that requires an average of more than one capsule
collected per second, you'll be forced to confront this with nothing
short of surgical precision, with your route for all three laps planned
out in advance. If you so much as hit any wall and lose much speed, you
might as well just restart, so you might as well crank your max speed
to its fullest in the status screen before the run. You won't be
needing many moments of acceleration when you're forced to remain at a
high speed throughout the oval.
I'll do a point-by-point rundown of the route I formulated and used,
rather than a paragraph block, for easier reading.
-As you're picking up speed on the first straightaway, use L to tilt to
the left and grab the first capsule. Straighten out afterwards and hit
the boost plate.
-At the pack of five capsules ahead, head for the one that's second
from the left, then slam L with some control stick maneuvering to grab
the leftmost capsule as well. It's possible to grab the extra capsule
directly behind the second-to-left one as well here, but you can get it
just as easily on the second lap.
-Realign yourself to hit the boost plate. Follow the track to the
second boost plate.
-Head to the right side of the jump plate and nab the capsule at the
-Hit the next boost plate on this side and slam R and the control stick
for maneuverability to pick up the capsule right behind the boost plate
and the one to the right of it.
-Realign to the center along the healing pit and hit the central
capsule beyond it. If the clock is roughly at 46 seconds here, you're
in good shape.
-Go down to the left, following the contours of the track, and grab the
sole capsule there.
-You're now in good position to cut across the track diagonally,
grabbing the series of several capsules, then hit L with the control
stick to realign yourself in time to nab the central capsule soon after
as you enter the tunnel. If you realigned yourself before grabbing the
last capsule in the diagonal formation, don't panic - you'll be in good
form to get it on the next lap. You'll pass by a boost plate. Don't
worry about it - this is the stage's only boost plate that you will not
need to hit AT ALL and still win.
-Even when you've got everything else about your route down to a
science, the capsule cluster right before the finish line can screw
everything up in a heartbeat. Try this: take the boost plate in the
middle of the course, jerk to the right to pick up the right-hand
capsule before the cluster, then angle back to the left diagonally for
the three left-most capsules heading to the wall, then jerk away and
realign yourself. If you miss any of these capsules, you might as well
restart now rather than find out you have too much on your plate in
-Boost immediately and take the right-hand capsule you left from the
-Run over the boost plate and take the middle capsule of the next
grouping. If you left the one just to the left and behind it (which is
a very common occurrence), then use a quick jerk with L and the control
stick to get that one as well.
-Boost around the bend and grab the capsule aside from the boost plate.
If the clock is approaching the half-minute mark at this point, you're
in good shape.
-Remain on that side and tow near the railing, boosting all the way as
you grab the two capsules on that side, and then use a now-familiar
quick side jerk to grab the two just past the left-hand boost plate.
You'll likely be running in the red zone by now, so swerve back to the
end of the pit area to grab up whatever health you can.
-Boost on to the right hand side of the next boost plate and grab the
capsule there. Remain on that side.
-Grab the next capsule on the right hand side aside the next boost
plate. If you missed the one just behind it in the diagonal row last
lap, you're in prime position to nab it now by staying relatively
straight on your path.
-Run over that sweet, sweet pit area, then cut across (doesn't matter
if you grab the boost plate, you'll be hitting your manual boost
throughout all of this anyway) to the other side and grab the left-hand
capsule before the cluster. Do the mirror version of what you did last
lap: go diagonally and grab as many capsules as you can in a diagonal
line to the right in the cluster. This comes with an asterisk, which
I'll elaborate on later, but your goal should be at least two capsules
here. When you pass the finish line, you should have around 18 seconds
left on the clock.
-Hopefully, this is just a cleanup round. Boost like your life is on
the line, grab the rightmost and (hopefully) the only remaining of the
formation along the first straightaway.
-Slam the boost all the way across the curve and along the pit area. If
the clock goes into the red before you hit the pit area, you might as
well restart - even with perpetual boosting, you won't have enough time
to finish. If the clock doesn't start ticking red until you're already
in the pit, boost on, soldier.
-Grab the final isolated capsule along the left side of the curved
path. If you've made it to this point then you're likely pumped, so
it's surprisingly easy to do something stupid and miss such a simple
capsule. Just...don't miss it. Tow near the railing, but not so close
that you run the risk of hitting it and bouncing off.
-Run through the pit area and approach the final few capsules of the
cluster from the right hand side. Now, the intent here is that you have
three capsules left, in a formation that will let you grab the first
one, slam a quick jerk to the left to grab the next one, then another
quick jerk with R to the right to grab the final one, then make a
screaming boost to the finish line because you undoubtedly have less
than five seconds remaining at this point.
But there's that asterisk I mentioned near the end of lap two. I do
have confidence that if you managed to scare up a good run after
however many attempts, that this strategy is viable - but there was a
slight variation to it in my winning run. While running the cluster at
the end of the second lap, I unintentionally made a crazy swerve and
picked up one more capsule than I intended - it's a move that I'm
surprised I recovered from, and it's not something that I was able to
repeat on command - but it allowed me to grab a mere two capsules in an
easy diagonal formation in my final round at the cluster, and slide to
a victory. If anyone knows just what I'm talking about, and wishes to
provide readers with a concrete explanation as to how to activate this
on cue, then email me.
Your reward: Rainbow Phoenix: one of the game's most brutal challenges
is justified by one of the game's best vehicles. With glide-like
handling that (almost) never seems to become too drifty, insanely sharp
turning capabilities and even a cool wing-foil boosting animation, the
Rainbow Phoenix is worth the sweat, tears and blood you've invested in
this stage. It's also, by far, the best vehicle in midair, with a glide
that almost feels at times like flight: on Dragon Slope, you can even
skip every ledge down on the namesake air slope and still come out on
top. It's manned by Phoenix, the time-traveling officer whose backstory
suddenly makes the whole game's plot so much cooler by proxy.
The rundown: Samurai Goroh challenges Falcon at a mountain pass. You've
got to make it to the finish line first.
Strategy: This is snakeable, and that's the preferred strategy unless
you want to shoot for an utterly perfect "regular" run. Start snaking
before you reach the road segment of the track at the beginning, and if
your form is tight, you should have overtaken Goroh by the time you
reach the first major rock slide, not counting the pebbles near the
start, without having to use your boost. Unless you're in a tight spot,
you shouldn't rely on the boost here; save your energy for when you'll
really need it.
At this first major rock slide, you should keep snaking, and weave in
and out of the larger boulders. You could keep entirely to the right,
but that won't let you snake, so getting a groove down and snaking it
is worth the risk. If you get hit here or slowed down significantly,
you might as well restart.
At the second major rock slide, keep to the right. If your snaking form
is solid, you should blast past these boulders before they get too far
across the path.
Here, you're afforded a small stretch without boulders, so keep
At the third major rock slide, you've got to find a small niche near
the left or right (depending on the position of the boulder) in which
to slink past the massive boulder. You may want to burn your boost
through here instead of snaking, but link the boost into another snake
From here on out, the boulders get huge, and constant. You'll probably
want to stick to one side, switching when necessary, rather than
weaving in and out. Burn the boost only when necessary, but don't be
stingy with it in a pinch. With any luck, victory will be yours.
Your reward: Spark Moon, which looks pretty and takes damage nicely
despite its questionable handling.
HIGH STAKES IN MUTE CITY
Strategy: If you're efficient at snaking, then this becomes the easiest
Very Hard stage in story mode. You can run the technique literally non-
stop throughout the course. If you don't slam into everything like a
bumper car, then even when they're boosting, the CPU just can't catch
up to you so long as you're consistent with it. Should you snake, just
keep rudimentary advice in mind: remember to keep tight on the area
without guardrails, and to incorporate the sharp turns into your
Your reward: The Rolling Turtle, a rock-solid machine that handles very
smoothly despite its deceptively unwieldy exterior. It's manned by QQQ,
the most sickeningly adorable robot this side of Wall-E.
CHALLENGE OF THE BLOODY CHAIN
Strategy: Once again, it almost seems as though these Very Hard levels
are tailored to be mind-bogglingly unthinkable without the speed boost
that snaking provides, so begin by doing it as well as boosting
The seemingly intended way to beat the course isn't necessarily the
best. The only thing you have to do is destroy Michael Chain's machine
at the very front of the formation, but if you were burning your boost,
it would become necessary to bash lots of his cronies' machines, which
give you small health boosts upon their destruction. Here, you should
snake right around them and maintain constant forward momentum rather
than getting drawn into scrappy fights, because on Very Hard, Michael
is going to take more punishment than on previous difficulty levels and
you'll need lots of time to do it.
Keep in mind, though, that Michael's cronies have very weak machines,
and just normally snaking through the crowds will probably destroy many
of them when you bump into them. As long as you don't go slamming into
the rails every moment, you shouldn't be hurting too badly for health.
It's possible to reach Michael before you reach the bridge with the pit
area, but not probable to destroy him until a bit afterwards, because
the pit heals him too. You've got to burn both your boost and snake in
order to catch up to him in good time, but you still need to kill him
before he reaches the finish.
Try sandwiching him against yourself and the side rail, and slamming
into him with a quick side-burst, and then doing it again when he
bounces back from the rail. Just hope that it bounces him back to you,
and doesn't just bump him faster and closer to the finish line.
Your reward: Fat Shark. Not the greatest handling in the galaxy, but
incredible boost and damage-taking capabilities.
The rundown: the power plant around you is exploding and you've got 40
seconds on Very Hard to escape this straightway with your lives.
Strategy: Normal's time of 50 seconds was doable with minor mistakes
here and there, Hard required near-perfection, but on Very Hard, you
can't get away with anything less than perfection. A strategy may
follow on a later revision (feel free to email if you have something),
but for now, all I can say is to keep playing. After long enough, the
course will become ingrained deeply enough in your mind for you to
hopefully get that one lucky run that takes you through.
There's a grace period of almost one second after the timer hits zero.
My finishing time for Hard, where you have 45 seconds to hightail it,
is 45.93. It's not a lot, but in a place like this where any
microsecond you can shave off counts, it just might save your tail.
BLACK SHADOW'S TRAP
The rundown: Black Shadow has strapped a bomb to Captain Falcon's
machine that will explode if his speed drops below 800 KMH, on Very
Hard. Keanu Reeves as Captain Falcon must reach the end of the course
without getting blown away.
Strategy: This isn't too bad. Rather than relying on some wacky tactic,
all you really need to do is to take what you did on Normal and Hard,
and tighten it up so that you don't hit anything for your speed to dip
Really, the most important asset you have is your own memory, as well
as your reflexes. Restarts upon restarts are commonplace on Very Hard
mode, and as such, you really just need to do what you did to beat the
easier modes - only tighter. Some general tips...
-The trucks will pull over to the sides as you approach, but their
presence can still create mental alarms for you if you've been wired
from a long gaming session. So, pretend like the truckers aren't there
at all, because as you hit up the center of the track, the problem will
-Save your boost. You absolutely have to use it at the dirt patch near
the end, but don't be afraid to use it in a pinch earlier. Because your
margin of error is so much smaller here, go ahead and rock a quick
boost if you drop anywhere below 850.
-Set your speed/acceleration balance to the center. Decreasing your max
speed is bad for obvious reasons, yet giving yourself too much speed
creates a whole new problem unless you have insane reflexes.
-L and R are your friends, but you can't snake this. Instead, make
heavy use of things like the spin turn and slide turns, things that can
take sharp corners without losing speed.
-To reiterate, memorize the course and memorize it well.
Your reward: the Silver Rat, that spirited little machine that could.
Not very durable, though.
THE F-ZERO GRAND PRIX
The rundown: Here it is - the big race for which Falcon has so
The strategy: Pray.
Seriously, though, this course more or less almost resembles the
Sapphire Cup's Mute City course, if it were designed by a sadist with a
serious love of lava and tricky passages.
The CPU on this course seems to hover at a level just around the
equivalent of the Grand Prix Master Mode, which we'll cover soon.
To succeed here, you've got to be both ever-presently aware of your
surroundings, yet focus first and foremost on your own driving. As with
on Master Mode, you've got to try and shut out all the other racers.
They're aggressive, so definitely try to kill them if you're flying
parallel and it won't affect your time, but don't get caught up on it;
when in doubt, overtake them rather than try and destroy them. Their
aggression goes beyond what you'll find in any other part of the game;
spin attacks galore, which as it turns out can be extremely damaging to
You should keep an awareness of your health status at all times. You'll
need to burn the boost to get any kind of decent standing (no snaking
on this course), but the environmental hazards and less than generous
pit area put you in a tight spot with a simple fact: if it looks in any
way like you might not finish, you probably won't.
So for the first several laps, your goal should be to survive, which is
easier said than done. You'll probably be in last place without some
tricky moves on your part, but the only time you'll really get a chance
to take the lead (without being swallowed up by the CPU legion seconds
later) will be on the final lap.
At that point, you've got to burn your boost and weave in and out of
the CPU racers, hit every boost plate and hit no environmental hazards
or be slowed down significantly by anything. If anyone has a more
concrete strategy for this course on Very Hard, please email me.
Your reward: The smooth-handling Pink Spider.
SECRETS OF THE CHAMPION BELT
The rundown: It's just Captain Falcon versus Deathborn, on his
subterranean volcanic racetrack.
Strategy: On the first lap, your goal - at the very least - should be
to keep Deathborn in your sights. Don't get too close, because chances
are he will attack you, but make it so that on successive laps, when he
seems to slow down ever so slightly, you'll be in a good position to
burn the boost and take the lead.
It goes without saying that you should know the course like the back of
your hand, because taking some of those sharp turns too lightly will be
the end of your run. This course is, against all odds, snakeable, but
that strategy makes it easier than ever to make mistakes. Keep in mind
that taking certain bumps in the road while angled towards the wall can
actually send you careening over the track and to your doom, so it's
important to know the contours of the course as well.
Once you've taken the lead, you'll want to maintain it by using as much
of your boost as possible, while banging into as few things as
possible. Use the spin turn around some of the harsher curves, boost
over the pit areas, and if need be, keep playing until you can
anticipate everything the course has to offer.
Your reward: that adorable lil' Bunny Flash.
FINALE: ENTER THE CREATORS
The rundown: The Creators' staff ghosts challenge Captain Falcon to a
race on a Rainbow Road lookalike. Well...okay.
Strategy: Much like with Black Shadow's Trap, the hardest work here is
learning the course to an extent that you'll have been able to unlock
its Very Hard mode, because to beat this, you'll need to simply tighten
up the skills you developed while beating its relatively-easier modes,
so your own reflexes and memory will be your best friends. Just some
basic things to remember...
-Try not to veer to the edges, because of the track's consistent lack
of rails. If need be, use L or R to reorient yourself.
-The presence of the staff ghosts can be a mental alarm, even though
they have no physical form. Much like the truckers on Black Shadow's
Trap, try and pretend as though they aren't there at all. You'll need
to concentrate fully on your own driving, so try to ignore the staff
ghosts. As with the Grand Prix level, if you have any more concrete
strategies for this course, email me.
Your reward: Groovy Taxi, one of the quirkiest machines in the game.
IV: MASTER MODE and the AX COURSES
So we've covered story mode, but one last elephant remains in the
corner: Master Mode. You unlock this final difficulty level for the
regular Grand Prix cups once you've cleared the first ones on Expert.
Your ultimate goal, with this section as whatever help I can provide,
is to unlock the AX cup: a group of new courses available to the arcade
counterpart, F-Zero AX. Once unlocked in GX, these intricate, visually-
impressive and diverse courses will function effectively as a fifth and
The first way to get them is through GCN memory card connectivity with
an AX arcade machine. In my travels, I've noticed the sad phasing-out
of arcades everywhere I turn, and as I write this, your chances of
finding a fully-decked arcade are low depending on where you live, and
even lower of finding a working AX machine. I can all but guarantee,
though, that finding an operational AX unit and spending your hard-
earned money on a plane ticket to go connect your memory card with that
machine will be easier than the alternate method and the only one that
most of us will have access to.
That's right - clear all four GX cups on Master difficulty. It's
daunting, but with enough elbow grease, you can do it.
Imagine having to play through every GX cup against 29 CPU opponents
who rarely if ever make the slightest mistake and who rock the boost at
every possible opportunity, which you'll also need to do to ever have
the hope of catching up to them, by the way. Oh, but your piloting had
better be just as tight as your speed is fast, because you get a total
of one spare life per cup: two deaths and you're back to square one for
that cup. And did I mention the violently rubberband AI? Nintendo could
take somebody's eye out with that thing.*
*Rubberband AI = a phrase coined by Mario Kart circles, wherein even if
you're far in first place, the AI racers will somehow defy logic and
overtake you from behind.
I achieved my Master mode victories with the Dark Schneider, which is
tough enough to take punishment and easily kill other racers, able to
effectively snake when the situation calls for it and sturdy enough to
hold its ground and not get thrown around. The track-by-track
strategies to follow will help with racers in heavy vehicles who are
willing to train themselves to snake effectively and on a dime, which
in some cases might be your best shot.
Some general tips before we begin:
-Rival-kill at every possible opportunity (See the Strategies section).
This is a game of points, and by creating a large points gap between
you and the closest rival, you give yourself leeway in case you perform
under expectations in a course and place in a lower position, so you
can still recover.
-Keep yourself limber. Take breaks every now and then if you feel
yourself getting too wired, because sloppiness can lead to failure.
-KNOW THE COURSES. All of the strategies to follow are going under the
assumption that you, the reader seeking help, know the four cups'
courses forward and backward.
Let it be said now that while snaking will come up frequently in my
course-by-course overview, if I do not mention the technique for any
given course stratagem, then it means it's not such a viable strategy
Ruby Cup (IV-I)
Mute City: Twist Road
This first course is money in the bank for any racer with snaking
capabilities: the tracks won't get much wider than what you see here,
so even a sloppy snaking job should land you in first place halfway
through the first lap. The only potential choke point is the twist loop
near the end of the course, where the track thins out. It's snake-able,
but unless you're very precise with your technique and confident of
that, you're better off switching off to a normal drive and hitting the
boost plates, only resuming snaking when the track opens up again.
Casino Palace: Split Oval
This simple loop of a course is easily snakeable throughout (except for
the namesake split segment), though requiring a more precise technique
than the last course because of the thinner road, and you'll likely hit
some of the abundant boost plates while you're at it. The only problem
I've encountered with this course comes at the incline right after the
split path: if you take the incline too fast or boost at just the wrong
moment, you might go flying right off the course and one of your
precious two lives will go splat. Be safe and don't hit the boost until
you've cleared the incline, just in case; it's happened to me more than
you may expect.
Sand Ocean: Surface Slide
To spin that broken record one more time, skilled snaking will win you
the day - but this is the first course where you'll have to do it in an
on-and-off fashion because of a more diverse track layout. You should
be able to weave through the crowds with a quick snake until you reach
the second boost plate, after which you should play it straight and
fast but careful until you reach (or pass; use your discretion) the
healing pit area, at which point snaking into the turn could help
immensely. The following open-air twists and turns can be snaked, but
only by someone with very slim technique. Take the chance to do so on
any straightaway you get, though.
Lightning: Loop Cross
And just like that, you're thrown headfirst into the harsh reality of
Master mode: training time's over. Because of the thin, turbulent
nature of this course and the clusters of violent racers you're bound
to face, snaking is out of the question, so if you've been doing it for
the past few courses, make sure to turn your pre-race settings dial to
a balance between acceleration and max speed.
You should be able to hold a good position during the first lap so long
as you play well and tightly, but as soon as the second lap begins and
the enemy racers get their boost on...that sound you just heard was a
legion of racers pushing themselves to the absolute limit and likely
leaving you dead last in a matter of seconds if you didn't anticipate
the rush, which is a phenomenon you'll likely be seeing a lot of
throughout the Master cups.
As you race, you'll notice many of the racers in the first several
slots constantly flashing in the red zone. It's to be expected from
here on in, if you didn't see it in previous courses (you probably
did): the CPU will push itself into the deepest deep red, probably to
the point where a few light brushes with the rails would kill them,
past limits of logic on Master mode, and that's something that I can't
recommend of you, the human player, especially facing against CPU that
are so violent and so clustered. Even so, just boosting enough to not
be left in the dust will likely leave you in the red as well, so make
good use of it: boost on straightaways and in the health pits for
maximum speed and efficiency.
Even if you're in dead last during the second lap, you can recover by
boosting at every possible opportunity during the final lap. You'll
have to play a tight game and avoid slamming into the walls - but if
you don't know these courses like the back of your hand, then you
haven't logged in enough practice hours to be giving Master mode a
serious try, I'd think.
Even with your boosting to your full capacity, it's very difficult to
score a first-place victory on Loop Cross, but remember - you don't
need to place first in every course in order to place first overall for
the cup, especially after (hopefully) dominating the relatively-simple
courses preceding this one. You can place in the double-digits here and
still throttle the first-place overall ranking.
After the previous assault, you might be relieved to find that
Multiplex's wide track and generous straightways lend themselves well
to snaking. If it's the strategy that you so choose, start doing it at
the beginning and take corners normally - either that, or snake right
into them. The boost-riddled segment with the brown speed traps can be
snaked right through without loss of speed, even as you blaze over the
traps. A first-place victory should be yours with relatively little
difficulty using this technique.
Sapphire Cup (IV-II)
Big Blue: Drift Highway
When I started up my Master runs for the purposes of AX unlocking, this
was one of the courses that I was dreading. Drift Highway is a
challenging course under the best of circumstances, considering its
multitudes of sudden, tight turns and its overall shortness compared to
other courses of its caliber, meaning that there's little buffer room
to slip up even on easier difficulties. The course, however, is
If you don't wish to use that technique, you'll want to keep your
acceleration well-balanced, and ramming into pretty much anything is a
huge no-no. The course's short length means that you can boost more
within the confines of the track without worrying about running into
the red too soon - but keep in mind that there is only a single pit
area, which may negate that advantage if you're not careful.
That scarce strategy up there doesn't work wonders, but if you're up to
snaking it, you stand a greater chance of taking the lead - but it's a
strategy tougher still. You'll want to snake hard on straightaways, and
you'll want to snake into the tight turns: timing your movements coming
up to the turns so that you'll flow right into them and not interrupt
your technique or slam into anything, then be able to straighten out
and seamlessly resume afterwards. It might take multiple tries to not
screw something up - because like I said, the smallest things are so
easy to screw up when you're continuously doing something as dexterity-
draining as snaking - but fortunately, you can just restart if
something goes wrong, with this being the first course of the cup. As a
general rule, you'll want to quit out and restart if you get an
undesirable outcome from the first course of any Master cup; you'll
want to maintain good standing right from the outset.
Port Town: Aero Dive
Despite its initial appearance, it's quite easy to snake on this
course, but you'll have to do it around corners and switch frequently
back to normal driving. Try to gain big air at the jump section; if you
can get the right forwards angle in midair, it's faster than taking the
Green Plant: Mobius Ring
From the inoffensive-looking oval overview of this course, you might
think that snaking this one all the way through will get you an easy
first place victory. But you know those ground slants that sporadically
change throughout the course? Those not only screw up your snaking when
you pass over them, but they send you careening every which way.
Because there's not too much risk of corner slamming on this course,
crank your max speed at the pre-race settings screen and keep your
boost at the ready. The health pits are relatively scarce, but take
them at straight angles and you should be able to fully recharge.
None the less, don't get your hopes up too high. Without a potential
for snaking and without any crafty strategies that you can pull
otherwise, even with constant boosting you're likely to place in the
double-digits. It's courses like this that make it so important to get
first place or near first place whenever you can, and to rival-kill at
every opportunity: sometimes you need the room to fall so you can get
back up again.
Mute City: Serial Gaps
Maybe it's because this is one of my personal favourite courses on any
difficulty, but I don't find it too much more nerve-wracking on Master,
despite the inherent challenge of its diverse layout. The thing you'll
need to watch out for is to throttle the lead or close to it very early
on, because if you find yourself being overcome by the swarming racers,
it can be very hard, and seemingly hopeless to regain a leading
position even with constant boosting. Make sure to always catch the
jump plates to skip part of the corner before the zero-friction traps,
catch one of the mines in the tunnel if you have energy to spare and
always aim for the upper path after the jump.
If you can pull it off, it's faster to boost straight through to the
finish line after taking the boost plate at the end of the
aforementioned upper path, but you run the very real risk of slamming
into one of the deceptively-thin cables running horizontally over the
path and coming to a dead stop because of it. It may be safer to take
that extra fraction of a second to angle slightly to the left, away
from the cables, and then boost back on track.
Emerald Cup (IV-III)
Fire Field: Cylinder Knot
For this course, and this cup in general, I highly recommend snagging
yourself a machine that's heavy enough to hold its ground in the wake
of rounded, tilting passages that would throw off lighter racers like
the Red Gazelle, because this cup is just rife with them. It has
nothing to do with heavier machines excelling at snaking, because
there's only one course in the cup where snaking is even an
approachable option, and Cylinder Knot isn't it.
On the second and third laps, the place where you should really let
loose with your boost is while you're maneuvering through the small
blue pylons near the end. The CPU will usually rush you here or just
beforehand especially if you're near the lead, but with some flawless
boosting of your own, you can take the first place on this course
without straining yourself too hard. There's not exactly a whole lot to
ram into on this course to hit and lose energy, so don't be shy with
the boost, because you'll be wanting to place at least within the top
six to dig into an early strong footing for the cup.
Green Plant: Intersection
This course is the definition of "deceptively difficult" on Master.
There are snakeable portions, but they're so small that they're not
worth sacrificing your max speed settings for. Ironically, those
segments are when the CPU makes its run at you, in one of those "legion
of racers blowing past you in a matter of seconds" moments - only they
do it so close to the finish line that unless you pull some massive
jump or boost off another racer from sheer luck, you'll probably have
to settle for a place in the double-digits.
The first, flat section of the course, when everyone is clustered and
starting out, is an ideal place for rival-killing - just be careful to
not clip over the red-rimmed edge near the end of the path from a
missed attack. It's good that you have this opportunity here, because...
The majority of the course is the circular pipeline, and during the
second and third laps, you should see to it that you space out your
boosts in correspondence with each time the pipeline changes texture or
colour, ideally once per texture shift. Once it changes to the solid
dark blue, you know the health pits and boost plates are coming up.
That CPU rush I mentioned typically comes right before the segment near
the end where you catch the boost plates around the vertical pipelines,
so you'd best do all you can to negate it by catching all of those
boost plates and adding in as many boosts of your own as you can
manage. Be careful, though - the slight incline just a few seconds
after the boost plates can send you careening right off the course if
you take it at any angle that doesn't send you directly to the finish
Casino Palace: Double Branches
You have two choices with this course. If you're a seriously skilled
snaker, go to the first paragraph. If you want to play it more
traditionally, skip the first paragraph after this.
So, if you want to snake it, you're going to need to be able to keep up
a consistently tight form. Because of the tight and forward-angling
nature of this course's turns, you'll need to constantly alternate
between snaking and not, because taking a Big Blue-style approach of
snaking into the turns will just get you slamming into things. Oh,
yeah, I forgot to mention that it's extraordinarily easy to slam into
things while snaking here, and the damage adds up throughout this
exceptionally long course until you're ready to just go in swinging at
that incessantly-grinning holographic clown, Happy Gilmore-style. Snake
on the straightaways, but if any area looks like it'll screw you up,
don't snake there because it likely will.
If you choose not to snake, it's probably the smarter option unless you
really are a lord of the technique. In lower difficulties, it was
actually fun to see just how far ahead of your opponents you could get
in any given race here, but on Master mode you'll need to be in a
reasonably near-constant boosted state in order to place within the top
six. Fortunately, it shouldn't be too much of a problem to conserve
your energy, because of the abundant boost plates. You should, however,
know the distances between each plate and the next, and hit your own
boost evenly between them, to get the most out of all three. For what
it's worth, the right-hand paths seem to be faster.
Lightning: Half Pipe
There isn't too much to say about this, but again your heavy machine
will pull its weight, holding strong where lighter racers might be
tossed around and over the edges of the course's namesake. So long as
you secure a position in the single-digits early on, the CPU doesn't
seem to be as aggressive here and it shouldn't be altogether too hard
to maintain your position. Just be warned: like on easier difficulties,
it's easier than it looks to screw up in a split-second and find
yourself careening right over the edge, so center yourself constantly.
Big Blue: Ordeal
Here it is - the only Emerald-class course where I would recommend
snaking, thanks to its flowing and wide contours. If you choose not to
snake, you face a dilemma: keeping up with the manic CPU will require
constant boosting on your part throughout the last two laps and a
borderline flawless performance otherwise, yet the course is simply too
big to sustain such continuous energy-draining boosting, considering
the decisively conservative placement of health pits: one near in the
first half that you should take every time, and one in the second half
that serves only to waste time and kill your lead (more on that later).
For best results with snaking, make a habit of letting your racer flow
along with the course as you snake: time your snaking so that the
twists and turns of the course are incorporated into the technique's
flow so that you don't lose speed switching to and from a solid snake.
Like on the first Big Blue, snake into the turns. As new-age-y as it
sounds, let your vehicle become one with the course.
If ever you took the wide way around the brown speed trap to the second
health pit instead of the boost plate, it's not a good idea on Master.
You need every boost you can get your hands on, because even after
you've taken the lead, all it'll take is the slightest detour from the
fastest path, or a second or two over the speed trap, and you're
suddenly in 23rd place. It's insanely easy to lose the lead, but given
just a few seconds of letting the CPU legion catch up to you, nearly
impossible to regain it - especially if it happens on the third lap,
which is a specific situation that can happen more often than you might
If worst comes to worst, the way the course end is laid out sets you up
perfectly for a suicide rush: coming up the thin road just before the
final wider segment before the finish line, I was around 14th place
after being overtaken by a swarm at the last minute. I had pushed my
boost to the absolute limit and was smoking red, so I inadvertently
slammed straight forward, into the racer in front of me. Having lost
all energy at fifteen hundred miles per hour, my ship hulk went
careening through the air and right across the finish line, jumping
past ten places to a solid 4th. How sweet it is. But you can tell just
by reading that that this technique, by its very nature, is as
unreliable as they come, so don't start building a strategy around it.
I'm including it here as something that's -possible-, not necessarily -
probable-, because you could use all the strategies you can get your
hands on with this thing.
Diamond Cup (IV-IV)
Cosmo Terminal: Trident
First off, there's no chance you'll be snaking this one, with its
consistently narrow, rail-less tracks. Many players, myself included,
often underestimate just how generous the healing pits are on this
track. You can pretty much boost continuously and at every opportunity
on the last two laps, and so long as you hit all the healing pits,
you'll be in good condition. Good thing, too, because you'll likely
need that constant boosting to score one of the top six places. After
further application, I've determined that there's just enough space
between each health pit for you to almost completely deplete your
energy through boosting, assuming you boost evenly and fully each time
and don't sustain any extra damage. You'll need every bit of it, too.
I find that the most effective paths go like this, in order: middle,
right, middle, right. The latter is especially important, because it
feels like the shortest of the three paths and spits you out right near
the finish line.
This course also offers the opportunity to kill many opponents very
easily, with quick side-bursts once you and the target are driving
closely parallel. It's there for you to do on any difficulty level, but
more important than ever on Master, where the extra life gained from
killing five racers just might save your run in a tight spot later.
It's very easy to lose control and fall off the track if you miss with
a side-burst, but this being the first course of the cup, you can
always restart if that happens.
DIAMOND CUP NOTE: If you've unlocked Fat Shark (from beating story mode
chapter 4 on Very Hard) and aren't playing as him here, then watch out.
No matter which character I tried in my Master attempts, Don Genie was
always at the front of the pack, at times too far to even conceivably
catch up to before the race ended.
It does make sense: with a CPU unhindered by the Shark's frankly-
atrocious handling, these Diamond courses play to the machine's
superior boosting and speed, and its rock-solid hull means that you
might need two or more good bashes to kill him, depending on who you're
racing as. My only successful run was the only time I managed to
destroy Fat Shark, on the second course. Correlation? There were tons
of other factors at work, but yes, I don't believe I would have done it
without sending that fat [censored] to sleep with the fishes. If you
get a chance to destroy the Fat Shark, do it - you might not get a
Sand Ocean: Lateral Shift
At first glance, Lateral Shift seems like a snaker's paradise, with a
decently wide track at points and a stage feature that plays right into
a snaker's M.O. But don't be lulled by that siren song - attempting to
snake here will end you with a smashed machine and a smashed ego,
because of the CPU's manic clustering and an interesting phenomenon
that really gets put on display here.
Recall the "CPU gets boosts, suddenly bursts past you on the second lap
and leaves you dead last in a matter of seconds" thing from the Loop
Cross overview. It's like that here, but seemingly here more than on
any other course, the CPU legion doesn't even try to hide that its
rubberband AI pretty much cheats you. Pretty terrible thing to see on
an FAQ, isn't it? But I ran an experiment: I played the course on
Master with several racers who have the fastest boosts, or at least
were in the upper echelon of boost-users; ergo, if I were to hit no
walls and boost continually after I acquired the boost, there would be
at least half of the CPU legion, those in the slower side of the boost-
using echelon, that by definition could not catch up to me, let alone
overtake me in seconds.
You can guess how that turned out. I don't call shenanigans without
good reason, but there you have it. My advice is to try and survive
this course. Try and kill some rivals, and hopefully the points gap you
create will help you stay afloat even if you land in 20th place.
Fire Field: Undulation
Undulation serves as a much-needed breather after the hair-pulling
intensity of Lateral Shift, but being less difficult than Lateral Shift
doesn't entail being in any way easy. By slamming on the boost, you're
afforded chances to overcome your leading opponents after the big drop-
off, but be CAREFUL on both bumpy zones. On lower difficulties you
could ease off the thrust and let yourself be gently carried over the
bumps to keep yourself from slip-sliding away, but here and at the
speeds you'll be expected to move constantly, you won't get the chance
to ease off and glide over except maybe on the first lap. It's
extremely easy to get thrown in a direction you didn't expect over the
bumps, so try to keep straight and don't try attacking opponents until
you're past the bumps.
Take the second jump plate every time and prepare to steady yourself
over the bumps upon landing, but never take the first jump plate. The
risk of slamming right into the overhead beams and losing too much
ground to recoup is just too great, and smashing into them is easier
than it looks, much like with the second Mute City course and the
Aeropolis: Dragon Slope
If you're racing with a machine that has exceptional snaking
capabilities, then this course will be a welcome change from the
previous endurance gauntlets. Its wide track and generous, flowing
corners offer plenty of chances for snaking.
You can perform the technique from the starting line all the way to the
boost plates nearing the big jump; take the course's namesake slope as
normal, then begin snaking again as soon as you reach the regular path
again. Don't do it over the friction trap combo bridge, but a boost or
two wouldn't hurt over the bridge on the second and third laps. Resume
snaking over the wide health pit, maneuver around the wavy corner and,
after the first lap, boost along the narrow path, then once you've
enough room, start snaking from here to the finish line, and repeat for
the next laps.
You'll notice I'm not offering an alternative strategy for those who
are for whatever reason adverse to the technique. Fact is, this is an
easy first-place victory if you can maintain yourself and keep your
snaking tight, and by this point, chances are you'll NEED a first-place
victory. Getting one on Trident isn't such a struggle once you've had
practice, even if sometimes you may have to settle for second or third
there, but that and Dragon Slope are the only Diamond courses where I
can see sure-fire strategies for consistently landing first place, so I
suggest you take them. If anyone knows of any more for the other
courses, email me and I'll update with credit to you.
Phantom Road: Slim-Line Slits
And you thought this was an unforgiving course on the lower
With this being the final course of the cup, you should pattern your
strategy depending on your overall standings in the cup. If you're at
or near first place, go to the first paragraph after this one. If
you're struggling, go to the second.
If you have a comfortable lead, having been consistently rival-killing
and placing decently in the preceding courses with a good point gap
between you and the closest rival, your job here should be to survive
and rival-kill to widen the points gap. It's impossible to snake here
(The thinness of the track and the namesake slits assure it), it's easy
to fall off when you're going too fast, so if you have a comfortable
lead, just try and survive. Just remember to keep the points gap wide.
If you're struggling in the rankings, you're going to have to take
risks if you don't wish to just restart. You'll definitely want to
rival-kill a few times, as well as try for the "shortcut": near the
start of the course, on the second and third laps, you'll come to a
spot where you go up a steep-looking incline, and then pass a smaller
incline. It's on this smaller incline that you'll want to boost just
before the top, and if you do it right, you'll go flying down the steep
slope that follows, saving time. Some racers can do it easier than
others. You'll want to angle yourself perfectly level with the track
afterwards to avoid losing speed upon touching down.
If you're feeling really gutsy, you can try a killspin - hit Z with
left or right - on one of the narrow passages if you're in a cluster,
and hope to take out a rival or two. Just be sure to balance it out
with a well-aimed boost so that you don't lose too much speed.
AX Cup (IV-V)
Aeropolis: Screw Drive
In my experience, the AX courses are a degree easier on Master Mode
than other cups, for the simple reason that the courses are generally
very wide: whether you choose to snake or to simply burn the boost, or
both, you stand little chance of slipping up too terribly. With Screw
Drive, you can actually refer back to the strategy for the first Mute
City level; just take into account the wavy sharp turn in Screw Drive,
and the fact that there's only one boost plate. This is a very easy,
Outer Space: Meteor Stream
It's a shame that your goal with such a beautiful level is to burn
through it as fast as humanly possible, but this too is snakeable, even
in the areas that are totally covered by frictionless plating. If you
do choose to snake, then try to catch every boost plate and keep to the
right-hand path when the track splits.
Port Town: Cylinder Wave
Because this course isn't snakeable, you'll have to play a tight game:
catch every boost, and playing the course enough times should help you
memorize their locations. Crank your acceleration/speed balance to the
max speed setting, since there aren't any walls for you to slam into
and lose speed. As with on your non-Master runs, when the path splits
between the boosts and the pit area, take the boosts on the first lap,
then plow through the pit area while boosting on your own on the second
and third laps.
Lightning: Thunder Road
Despite the course's length, this is surprisingly easy for the same
reasons as Screw Drive: the massively wide stretches of track have
incredible snaking potential, and the numerous pit areas give you
plenty of leeway to burn the boost to your heart's content as well.
Green Plant: Spiral
The final, longest and most complex course in the game isn't much more
difficult than the other AX courses on Master thanks to its wide track
and generous pit areas, so the aforementioned strategies should serve
you well. Just watch the tricky corners; it only takes one slip-up for
the AI legion to blow past you in seconds, and this course has many
opportunities to do so. Know the course well and you'll know your
Your reward for besting the AX Cup on Master difficulty is the classic
Big Blue music, selectable as an alternate theme by pressing Z whenever
you're about to head into a Big Blue course; that is, if you didn't
already unlock the music through its secret code.
V: Contact info/other
Reach me at darthvenom75(at)hotmail.com if you have any questions,
comments or strategies; I hope this guide has helped, but a guide like
this is never truly finished without the experienced input of many, so
I'd love to post your strategies if they're viable and give credit
where it's due.
This guide is copyright Corey MacLean, 2010. As of now, only
GameFAQs.com is authorized to use it. Feel free to link to this guide,
but do not repost without permission from me.