Review by MrSid
So, as a huge Formula 1 fan and a relatively newcomer to the Super Nintendo I thought I would dig around to see if it had any decent F1 games. Back in the day I remembered seeing Nigel Mansell’s World Championship on the Amiga so was interested to see if the Super Nintendo version was any good. A quick internet search revealed that it was a decent version so decided to give it a go.
The game itself is an arcade-style Formula 1 racer developed by Gremlin Graphics and released in 1993. It covers Nigel Mansell’s championship winning 1992 season. You must take on 18 races around the world, trying to beat 11 other drivers to the championship. After each race, points are awarded for where you finish and the driver with the most points at the end of the season wins the championship. You can only play as Nigel Mansell which I suppose is the whole point behind the game but is slightly limiting. It would have added more variation if you could have played as other drivers (who incidentally have the real licensed names).
Once you start you go to your first race where you must set your car up for qualifying, which rather cruelly is only 1 lap! If you haven’t raced the track before this makes it seriously tough. You can select various options when setting up your car such as rear wing aerodynamics, tyre choices and gear ratios. Im not 100% sure that these set-up options really make that much of a dramatic difference to car handling but its quite cool that you can tweak them. Tyre choice will be determined by the weather (which is illustrated by a simple icon) and how many corners the track has. Wet tyres should be used in the rain (obviously). The soft tyre is faster but wears out quicker; a better choice of tracks with less corners as there will be less tyre wear. The hard tyre is slower but is more durable; better for tracks like Monaco that are full of tight corners.
So, once qualifying is done your lap time will determine where you start on the grid for the race. You must then race 7 laps of the track with the 11 other cars. Tyre wear is shown by a simple graphic. When it gets low, you must come into the pits to put fresh rubber on. So you must go flat out, negotionating the corners and also overtaking other cars and try to win the race. When you hit other cars or hit a barrier there is no damage. It just slows you down. Most corners can be negotiated by simply holding off the accelerator which adds to the arcady feel.
If you come first, second or third you have made in onto the podium and the ceremony is shown after each race. The other drivers are visually generic but Nigel Mansell can be seen sporting his iconic blue overalls and tache!!! Pretty nice touch that the winners national anthem will play.
You then progress onto the next race and so it goes until you have done all 18 tracks. The variable weather is random throughout the tracks which mixes things up a little.
I was quite impressed with the graphics. They are pretty basic but suit the game well. You can clearly see the difference in the backgrounds whilst racing and spot landmarks in the background. I’m guessing that because of the pure speed the the game moves at, it would have been impossible to have too much detail for the hardware to manage. One thing that I thought was very cool was the wing mirrors. If you look into them you can see whether a car is behind you which gets bigger or smaller depending on the distance. Nice touch.
One thing that does look a little odd is that your car is very low on the screen. It almost feels like it is dropping off the screen. Would have been nice if you could have seen more of it.
If you are not a fan of screaming Formula 1 engines, you won’t be a fan of the sound! The in game FX consist of engine sound, which changes pitch when passing other cars and you also pick up their engine which I suppose if pretty clever. Then you get a ‘thud’ when you hit a barrier or a ‘bang’ when you hit a car. Not great but what else do you want in an F1 game!?
Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ would have been great at the start!!
The game plays amazingly. It is arcady so don’t expect realistic driving physics. You basicly go as fast as you can, slam on the brakes and turn into corner. It is great fun though and great how fast you can zip round the corners. The frames of animation and pure speed is really impressive. It makes for some high energy and full on racing! Personally as a fan of the ‘pick up and play’ nature of retro gaming, this basic gameplay suits me as I dont have the time (or patience) to spend ages setting my car up. I just want to have fun, which this does. As mentioned above, im not entierly convinced that the car set up options make that much of a change to the cars handling. Would have been nice if they had made more of this as again, it would have added more variety.
If I had paid £40 for this back in the day, I would have got bored quickly. Its great for a quick go but just does not have enough variety to keep you coming back for more. Nowadays though it is what it is; a fun racer that is great to pick up, have a blast then put down again. The graphics have a certain charm to them and I think visually it has aged quite well.
Things that would have helped this game age better (IMO) are being able to play as different drivers, some sort of damage meter and some better set up options that make more of a difference to handling.
Oh and forgot to mention, I hate password saving. Between each race you get a ridiculously long password which you enter to resume play. Could they not have added a save slot?
A thoroughly enjoyable game that is a real blast if you have a spare half an hour. Its arcady, fast and fun. It is what it is and I will definitely pick it up again next time I need a retro racing adrenaline fix…
… or if I need to be reminded how amazing his tache was back then!