Gameplay, Story and Value:
Not gonna lie. When I saw Domark, of Marko’s Magic Football shame, on this game’s title screen my heart sunk a bit. Not only did I still have a clear recollection of the snooze-fest that was Super Monaco GP II, but here was a racing game developed by the same guys behind the console’s worst offering thus far.
My expectations had bottomed out.
Furthermore was that I couldn’t even seem to control main menu navigation! No matter what button I pressed, the game always took me to race mode. Options simply weren’t an option. I decided not to worry about, and just let the game take me to Arcade mode. When the race did start I was treated to a UI very similar to Monaco GP’s and at that point resigned myself to a play experience that would be equally similar.
I was mistaken.
Imagine my surprise when the light turned green and I went from uninterested to excited in no time flat! Bad pun aside, the game is actually really good. You can immediately feel a sense of speed as you accelerate, and hills and dips in the track only emphasize it. The cars have a sense of weight to them, and despite feeling like they stick to the road a bit (a product of the genre in this era) you still get a solid sense of handling. Everything about the actual racing in this game just feels good, and it’s surprisingly addictive.
Arcade Mode has you racing through progressively difficult courses. Instead of aiming for a specific position, your goal is overtake a specific number of racers and maintain that minimum by the time the race ends. All the while you need to keep an eye on your car’s condition and pull in for pits as needed, while not falling too far behind. That minimum number will increase each race, starting at 6, then 8, and onward.
Championship Mode is more traditional. You have a large selection of courses to choose from, and with them you create a playlist of sorts that will comprise the championship. Here you’re simply trying to place as high as you can in each race, with the winner being determined at the end of the championship.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
I honestly can’t tell if I’m looking at simple polygons or just the impressive scaling abilities of the Genesis. While I’m still not a fan of this visual style of racing games (Yes I compare everything from this era to F-Zero…) I have to say I found it impressive. Not only did the game run incredibly smoothly, avoiding choppiness and pop-in issues, but I never had trouble figuring out where I was in relation to other objects.
A complete lack of music outside of menus us to be expected, and the sound effects on the race track are pretty par for the course. Nothing spectacular here.
It’s always refreshing to be surprised by a game that I thought was just going to be another throw-away title. I’ve never been a huge fan of racing games, though I enjoy a few of them, but I definitely enjoyed myself with this one. I don’t know how often I’ll actually play it in the future, but it’s a pretty easy recommendation for a racer this time period, and I think I’ve found the perfect solution to my occasional Pole Position itch!