racing roundup for may 2021

It’s that time of the year again where I’m not home for a couple weeks, and I don’t have access to my high-end Gamer Rig that allows me to enjoy popular 3D video games, or things like “a mouse.” So to relieve my boredom, I’m playing retro shit on my laptop. And seeing as how Monaco was this past weekend, thought it would be timely to talk about a few more racing games on here.

Satoru Nakajima F-1 Hero GB World Championship ’91

Back in September, I had done a write-up on a few licensed racing games featuring Satoru Nakajima. Thought that I would very slowly cover the rest of them, as they are significantly lacking in quality compared to at least one and a half of their Mega Drive counterparts, and I would rather not rip off that band-aid right away. F-1 Hero ’91 is a game that seems like it’s pretty good. Looks fine. Sounds okay. Handles really well. No, the big problem here is an emulation issue where there’s really bad flicker that fucks with the path of the track. I recorded a short video of it, and while it’s not super bad here, it does get worse later on, looking like one of those weird 3-D games from the era that flashed two images one after another. Didn’t record that, as I didn’t want to take a chance and trigger someone’s epilepsy.

So this is a game that’s probably okay, but due to an issue outside of its control, I had to put it down pretty quick. That’s a shame. Despite being literally unplayable, it’s still better than the rest of Nakajima’s Nintendo outings. I’ll cover those another day.

Super Monaco GP

The very first racing game I ever covered for this particular feature was Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II. I thought that, for funsies, I would play the first game.

I have since come around on Sega’s Super Monaco games since August. Before, I would have said that these were okay, but nothing special. Now I’m totally into these games. One of the few Super Scaler games on the Mega Drive (yes, I’m American, but Mega Drive sounds cooler than Genesis) that’s any good. Super Monaco GP is a fairly simple, but still fun arcade port where you get into a car and drive faster than everyone else.

Sorry, let me correct myself. You get into THE car: the 1988 McLaren driven by Ayrton Senna. Quite obvious that Sega wanted to get an official endorsement here, but would have to wait until the sequel.

yes, this is a picture of the 1989 race, but it’s still the same fucking car, okay?

So you climb into the not-McLaren, and as Notrya Annes (yes, that’ll do), you kick everyone’s ass. Well, you’ll kick everyone’s ass so long as you learn how to use the stick shift. You try playing this in automatic, you are going to lose 100% of the time, as the top speed will cause you to helplessly watch as every other car on the track passes you by. Once you get used to that, though, the game becomes fun.

There’s also an extremely rudimentary World Championship mode. It’s not anywhere close to something like Super Hang-On; you simply race on different tracks, and then another driver will give out the mildest trash talk, and then you try to beat him during a race. It’s fine, clearly something to add some replay value to what would otherwise be a cut and dry port. Give it a shot, why not.

sadly, you do not start in the mclaren here

F1 Circus MD

Remember when I talked about one of the PC-Engine F1 Circus games, and I said, “huh, this must be a mistranslation of ‘circuit.'” Well, I was a fucking idiot. It’s circus.

Anyways, idiocy aside, this is the lone Mega Drive version in the series. The game itself is a pretty firm middle of the road (lol) racing game. Circus still suffers from some of the issues that its PC-Engine counterparts had, insofar as the limited perspective and touchy controls. However, it has one major improvement that makes the game far more playable: it has a fucking map.

Now, you can actually see when a turn is coming up, and how sharp it is, rather than only getting a turn signal and hoping for the best. A minimap is such a small thing, but it adds so much when you’re screaming down a track at high speeds.

F1 Circus also has weather effects, such as rain, which is cool. Starting the race with Rain tyres, then having to pit and switch to regular tyres as the weather clears up during the race, that’s also really cool.

and yes, i did steal the umbrella design for my own piece of racing sprite art

I don’t really much to say about F1 Circus other than that. It’s a solid racing game that is a few paces behind Satoru Nakajima Super License, but it’s still fun to play and mess around with for a little while. There are worse games on the system.

That’s it for this one. I’ll be back again next month for some more racing. Looks like the Mega Drive is the current king of 16-bit racing games.

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