Black eyes and a boatload of confidence.
Vroom, they say
RELEASE DATE: 08/09/90 – (JP)
09/90 – (US)
01/91 – (EU)
In Super Monaco GP, I crashed my car repeatedly into stacks of tires. I failed to brake properly at several sharp turns. I forgot how to shift gears. I consistently dropped out of races due to low placement. I tried over and over again to finish a race at a respectable place and to no avail. Despite all of this, I had a great time. As much as I prefer to blame the game itself rather than my own poor gaming abilities, Super Monaco GP is so well-crafted that it succeeds, in spite of my failure to play it properly.
Excuse me, miss? You seem to be blocking my view of the race.
Based on the arcade game of the same name, and the sequel to Monaco GP, the 1979 top-down arcade racer, Super Monaco GP puts you inside an F1 car and expects you to handle it. In the arcade, your race takes place on a track that becomes more winding and difficult as you progress (Wikipedia says this race is loosely based on the Circuit de Monaco, but I couldn’t verify the information). Before you start the race proper, you select one of three transmission types, then run a qualifying race to determine your starting position. In the main race is a position limit, which starts at 20th place and increases with every checkpoint you hit. If your position within the race falls below the limit, you automatically lose.
“Retired” is a classy way of saying “banned from touching or looking at an F1 car.”
The Genesis port keeps the aforementioned arcade gameplay in the “Super Monaco GP” mode, but also expands the game to include a Practice Mode and a World Championship Mode. Practice is a carefree way to get used to the car and its automatic/manual transmission types, while World Championship puts you on a team and takes you through sixteen races.
When 300+ km/h just isn’t enough…
Like Super Hang-On‘s Original Mode, World Championship adds hours of gameplay to an otherwise simple racing game. You start off on the MINARAE team, a group of ambitious young go-getters whose encouraging words warm your heart and harden your resolve to win. After a qualifying race, you’ll be asked if you want to choose a rival. The rival adds an interesting strategic element. If you beat your rival twice without losing to him, you’ll be asked to join their team. And if your rival’s team is better than your current band of scrappy underdogs, it’s worth switching sides. In addition to getting a newer, faster car, you’ll also get superior bragging rights. The goal of Super Monaco GP isn’t to make lifelong racing buddies. The goal is to be the best.
Those poor rubes.
Beating your rival is great and all, but it won’t account for squat if you don’t maintain your car and strive for as many Championship points as possible. When you see the word “Trouble!” blinking during the race, pull into the pit and let your loyal crew fix you up. Yeah, it’ll cost you some precious seconds, but better lost time than a blowout later in the race. Besides, each race has five laps, which leaves plenty of time to catch up. Make sure you finish in at least sixth place or higher if you want any Championship points, though. These points boost your ranking and bring you closer to the esteemed World Champion title.
Never a dull moment with your feared rival, B. Miller.
World Championship is certainly more in-depth than the basic Super Monaco GP mode, but it’s also a bit easier. The position limit is gone, so you’re no longer penalized for staying near last place throughout the entire race. In other words, even if you have no hope of winning the Championship, you can still Sunday drive through each of the sixteen races and enjoy yourself.
Sage advice from the pit crew.
The first-person view could be jarring to those with weak stomachs, particularly on sharp turns that require immaculate downshifting to clear without crashing. But the decision to use first-person, both in the arcade and the Genesis port, also makes Super Monaco GP far more immersive than Sega’s preferred behind-the-vehicle third-person view employed in OutRun, Super Hang-On, and World Grand Prix.
At least the practice is free.
Even though I could never drive my F1 racer properly, the handling is still superb. Whether you’re drifting seamlessly around a corner or bashing mindlessly into other racers, you always feel like you’re in complete control of your vehicle. You steer and shift with the D-pad, then Brake, Accelerate, and Pit Out, with the ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ buttons respectively. If the default Type A control settings aren’t your cup of Earl Grey, there are five other control types to choose from, an unreasonable and generous amount in a 16-bit racing game.
Maybe next time I won’t destroy my chances of a racing career.
Super Monaco GP is a fantastic racing game that I have no business playing. In Super Monaco GP mode, I’d always get knocked out by the imposing position limit. In World Championship mode, I’d find my way to 4th place before being surpassed and knocked off the track by faster, braver men. Every time I started a race, I thought, This is the one. This is the race where I won’t doom my chances of winning with foolish mistakes. But no. Super Monaco GP is for the real race car drivers, the ones with thumbs of steel and gallons of patience. I am but a hopeful pretender.