The prelude to Virtua Racing? Sure, why not.
RELEASE DATE: 07/02/88 – (JP)
SUPPORTS: The Paddle Control
Super Racing should have been released in the States for three reasons (one of which is, admittedly, not that good of a reason):
1) This here’s some good racin’. The gameplay is an interesting blend of R.C. Pro Am and Sega’s early F-1 racer, World Grand Prix. Many people love the former and, judging by the comments section on my review, nobody’s played the latter. But who cares, the mash-up works.
2) The Master System’s previous racing game was OutRun, released a year prior to Super Racing. OutRun‘s great and all, but after a year, the genre needed a new title in America. This is my meh reason. One could argue that OutRun is all you need.
3) Every piece of text in Super Racing is in English. A bare-bones instruction manual and a poorly rendered wireframe cover: these are the only things Sega would have needed to make in order to bring Super Racing over to a small, appreciative audience. Since I can’t travel back in time to 1988 to encourage Sega of Japan to release the game, let’s all be thankful we live in the age of digital downloads.
I really think Hamshank has a chance this year.
Super Racing is a top-down Formula 1 racing game, an arcade racer with some light sim elements. You pick from one of five “F-1” cars (the names have been changed from the real F-1 cars to protect Sega’s pocketbooks), all of which have slightly varying turn radii, speed, and inertial force. Do these stats make a difference when you play? Not really. Figure out the tracks, learn how to turn, pass the other racers, and you can dominate with a “Murch,” “McLallen,” or a “Fellali.”
Taking curves at… 58km/h?! Grandmas don’t even drive that slow!
After you’ve chosen your car, you pick which circuit you want, the Hi-Speed or the Technical. Hi-Speed raises your inertial force, making it more difficult to turn on a dime, while the Technical Circuit supposedly gives your car greater turnability. You choose from either circuit before you begin a course. I’ve never seen either of these options in any racing game before, and as I played, I couldn’t distinguish a difference between them. Perhaps if you super raced for hours and mastered the depth, width and length of the turns, you’d deduce which circuits work best for which course. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Super Racing isn’t Gran Turismo, so you don’t have to overthink your selection.
Nothing funny about this screenshot. The Master System could do way better graphically.
Finally, you choose your difficulty, which determines how many courses you’ll race. Beginner has five courses, Average has eight, and Expert will have you tackling an endurance run of fifteen. Needless to say, you’ll need to be a McLallen baller to handle the devious turns found in West Germany among other Expert-only tracks. Each course begins with a qualifier run and a qualifying time. These runs exist to help you get a feel for the course and determine what position you’ll begin in the real race. The closer your time is to the qualifying time when you finish, the higher of a position you’ll start in. And you’ll want to start as close to the front as possible. The computer racers can be passed with practice, but they always seem to know where to sit in front of you. If you’re anywhere below fifth place starting out, it will be hard to take more than a couple spaces in front of you, unless you’ve memorized the course and the computer’s movements. Thankfully, there is a Practice Mode where you can study any course at your leisure. Super Racing thought of everything.
The purple tracks give off a Dimetapp stench if you crash on them.
I’d never played a top-down Formula 1 racing game (do any others exist?), so imagine my surprise when Super Racing controlled like a heavier R.C. Pro Am. I primarily used the “Lotas” car – average speed, average turns, etc. The weight and physics of the car were flawless. Twisting and weaving around the track was exceptionally fun. Shifting gears with button 1 instead of ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ on the D-pad felt a little funky at first, but I grew used to it. The tracks themselves have good designs, but their surroundings leave a lot to be desired and don’t take advantage of the Master System’s exceptional color palette. That being said, I don’t play racing games to have my eyes massaged. I play to experience great speed, great destruction, and in Super Racing‘s case, hilarious misspellings of Formula 1 race cars.