Amstrad Action1st May 1991
Published in Amstrad Action #68
Super Monaco Grand Prix
The tarmac blisters in the heat of the midday sun. You adjust your visor in a vain attempt to see through the shimmering heat. Glancing in your rear view mirror, you see an approaching competitor. Hitting seventh on a straight, you ease away, giving yourself space to move and breathe. You can hear nothing but the sound of your own blood rushing in your ears, and the low, almost subsonic throb of the massive formula one power-plant immediately behind your head. There in front of you, you see the flutter of the white flag... just one more lap to go, but they're gaining...
Super Monaco Grand Prix, apart from being the most unnecessarily long title in computer gaming history, is a conversion of the Sega coin-op - one of last year's biggest arcade hits. The original coin-op was popular mainly because of the stunning graphics and sounds, but actual gameplay was little different from most other games in the racing genre. The problem *any* computer version will have is the lack of 32-bit processing power, custom graphics chips galore and digital sound. So how does the humble CPC cope?
The game plays much like any other racer. Strapped firmly into the driver's seat, you tear down the crowded race track, hoping to get as low a lap time as possible and, ultimately, to finish in first place.
Before you even begin a race, you must qualify, and in doing so, gain a better starting position in the actual race. Once qualified, your car is entered in the race proper, and that's when things start to get a little difficult.
The cars themselves are awesome beasts, capable of huge speeds, and incredible feats of agility, hugging corners as though they were on rails. Or at least, that's what the real ones do...
You are given a choice of gear set-ups to begin with, and you can choose from automatic, four, or seven speed gearboxes. Automatic is simple and takes some pressure off the player, but acceleration is very slow compared to the manual four-speed, and even the four-speed is a bit dodgy compared to the seven speed.
The tracks represent circuits around the world, as well as the streets of Monaco, home of the world-famous Grand Prix. The occasional dip and hill add to the problems you will face, but the other drivers are the biggest pain. You will find yourself roaring through a dark tunnel when suddenly another car appears in front of you. And, like the worst taxi driver in the world, he refuses to let you past, or jams you between his car and the tunnel wall.
The control method initially seems slow and unresponsive, but perseverance ensures progress, and you soon learn the quirks of the vehicle's handling.
The graphics are colourful and attractive, and quite convincing at times, especially on hills. But the scrolling and screen update are a little on the jerky side. Sound consists of the car's droning rumble, and a very bizarre noise when you overtake other cars.
Like other driving games, the scope of the challenge is limited by the lap times you can get, but Super Monaco Grand Prix is actually more fun to play than most, and lasting enjoyment can be gleaned, especially from racing fans.
Mention should also be made of the totally savoury babe holding the place cards at the beginning of the game... phwoar!!!
First impressions of Super Monaco Grand Prix are not good - it seems too slow and jerky. Give yourself time to get into it though, and you'll find there's an exciting game under the bonnet.
First Day Target Score
Qualify in pole position.
Nice 'n jolly, colourful, and reasonably well animated.
Vroom! Parp! Sounds like a convention of flatulent hoovers!
Grab Factor 80%
Easy to play, difficult to beat. You'll pick it up straight away.
Staying Power 75%
Not a lot more to it over other racers, but long-term fun!
Not bad, not awesome, but fairly good. A sound drive-'em-up.