Super Monaco GP



Black eyes and a boatload of confidence.



Vroom, they say




GENRE: Racing

DIFFICULTY: Adjustable

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.



Posts created 353

19 thoughts on “Super Monaco GP

  1. Game sucks to me. They tried to make an arcade racer into some simulated nonsense. All the cars are the same color in the race. EGM must’ve been smoking Sega blunts to give this thing 9s and 10s.

    1. The sim elements are too mild to be offensive to me. And was the Genesis port really that different from the arcade? Didn’t seem that way based on gameplay videos. The arcade seems harder to me, if anything, due to the increased sense of speed.

      1. Like you said. I can run a flawless race and still not break the top 3. And it pretty much forces you into manual transmission or your car will be slow as hell. Some of the s-curves are dumb, you can literally drive straight without even turning.

  2. I own and but have only fleetingly played this game. I tend to have a go decide I’ll go back to it when I have more time to invest as I think I will get really into and put it back on my shelf. I really need to get this on my playlist will be interesting how you compare it to Domark’s F1 game later in the systems life.

    Another enjoyable well written review, I especially like your link backs to previous reviews. I had completely forgotten about World Grand Prix which is another game I wanted to try out.

  3. Great review. I never tried this – I always thought that, Mario Kart aside, racing games only really became worthwhile in the 32 bit era. Sounds like I need to check my prejudices and give it a go.

    1. Thanks Rom. Sega always puts a lot of effort into their racing titles. I would also recommend Super Hang-On. I graded the latter the same as Super Monaco, though I think I would rate it a tad higher now.

  4. Ok so man, let me gather my thoughts. But this game was so good. When it came out, was easily the best home console racing game ever. I mean there is just so much to love in this game. And it totally took me by surprise. I didn’t even really care for the arcade game that much. (It was pretty hard.) First off I’d like to point out that 32-bit racing games really are when the genre took off and this game is not going to compare. So hopefully anyone reading this will keep that in mind.

    But this game was so good. The control was excellent. The nuance of braking and downshifting and the digital steering was top notch. It plays really well. A lot of times when someone says the controls take time to master it’s kind of code for it doesn’t control well. But this’s not the case here, it controls well, and there is mastery to be had with practice. So the real game is not just the arcade portion, which is fine. The real game is the season mode. You will not do well starting off. You team is a lower class starting team. But it’s great practice for mastering the controls without a super hi powered vehicle. Like the review says you need to strategize and get rivals that you can beat. Don’t try and choose a rival that is too far behind you abilities or you will lose. It’s so fun working your way up the ladder this way. Your rival is identified on the track, and it’s really about trying to beat them than place super high. As you work your way up you get invited to join their team if you keep besting their driver. And your cars get better. Eventually as you get on a top ranked team you start winning races. And your skill should have increased enough to handle the better cars with higher top speed. It is so involved and the constant competition makes every race fun and challenging rather than a slog. Also stuff like damage and pit stops greatly adds to to strategy of these races. So I. Going to share some of my key strategys. First every course in GP mode you want to take advantage of the practice mode. Practice the course until you get every turn and straightaway down, it really helps. Learn when to break and when to power downshift. Learn the angles and Yoshida’s on the turns. Then you’ll be ready when the real race starts. Next is auto transmission is fine, but you will not excel at this game with it. You can compete, but manual transmission is absolutely the way to go in this game. Good luck ever challenging team Madonna in Auto,you’ll never beat them. First off, manual trans has higher top speed. Second, you can race the courses way more skillfully in manual. You can like I said early learn to use down shifting instead of break, get better acceleration out of turns by timing you gear shifts. It is one of he best games I’ve ever p,aged with realistic engine shifting. Once you go manual you can finally start competing with the top racers. It’s like night and day, I got so good at learning how to shift through corners that I’d rarely if ever break, like on corner would be rapid shift to 2nd gear, half way through take it to third, then shift up and out onto the straight away. There is so much strategy to taking turns and racing with the manual transmission I’d highly recommend it.

    Then if you manage to win the points and the season, you get challenged to a second season where you have to defend your title, and the top guys will really come gunning for you. It’s great. You might even get demoted to another team and have to win your best team back. Every race is important and exciting. I would say it’s one of my favorite racing games of all time. And easily my favorite Genesis racing game. I think I prefer this to the second game actually. Plus it had great sound effects for the engine and shifting and pretty great digitized graphics and cutscenes. Like your car drifting around a corner with heat distortion. Affecting the view coming off the hot track. Just all the little things make it a great racing game. So if you learn the manual transmission and how to down shift through turns, practice before racing, and choose rivals that are beatable , you should do well with this game.

    1. Down shifting through turns was something I could never achieve without crashing or screwing up somehow. It really does take practice. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to invest in the game, but I did enjoy the time I spent with it.

    2. Man, you do a wonderful job of describing how this game works. I really loved this title, and thanks to it I also got Super Hang On as it had a similar mode as Monaco’s World Championship (but I enjoyed Monaco’s a lot more).

      To this day, I wish that modern racers had the qualifying race rather than always placing you at them bottom when starting a new race. And yes, there was no way to get good at this game with an automatic shifter; you had to go manual or bust! Definitely the game that started my love for racing titles!

    1. You gotta click on the full pick to see just how blatant a copy it is. Every last detail of that pose and features are identical. Save for the clothing,

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