Oh no. It's happened again. I've started to feel the need, the need for speed. And there's only one thing that can satisfy this desire. A spiffingly goo 3D motor racing game. Adn what a strange coincidence! Super Monaco GP happens to have just appeared in the trusty shed. Better get on and review it, hadn't I? (If you would. Ed)
Super Monaco, a bit like Impulze's Championship Run, reviewed on page 59, sees you strapped into the uncomfortable seat of a Formula One car. (Those of you who go back more than a year should remember it in the arcades where its nifty scrolling scenery and rear-view mirror made it a bit of a popular ride). You are then invited to race a whole season around various tracks in Europe (of which Monaco is one of course). What you have to do is zip around a lap of each of the empty circuits against the clock to get a qualifying time. You then (automatically) enter the 3-lap race with a grid position dependent upon your level of crapness on the qualifying lap. Luckily if you do really badly, you will still qualify. You'll just be at the back, that's all.
PESKY SUNDAY DRIVERS!
In the proper races there are about 20 other drivers. Some you can zip past on the straights, but others need to be carved up on the corners. It's graded so that the further towards the front of the pack you get the harder it gets to overtake the cars in front. Reaching (and staying at) first place is therefore a wicked achievement worthy of a pretty stonking slap on the back. But those you've just burned off are waiting to get their revenge.
What makes things a fair bit easier though is the spooky ability you have to drive right through the other cars. It takes all the skill out of the overtaking process (and I only wish I could do it on real roads!). Just when you think you're about to ram someone the cars slide through each other. (So you can't wobble dangerously and block the rest of the pack behind you.)
This weird 'ghost car' effect means that the only way you can die is by crashing off the road. But again there's some spooky strangeness at work here, because although you can drive off the circuit at any point, you only die at one or 2 corners. Of course, you forget which these are, and, thinking you can't die, you belt around them at 398 kmh only to find that the game has suddenly finished (as has your life).
BUT IT'S NOT ALL MOANS, IS IT?
Certainly not. There's plenty in Super Monaco to jump up and down waving your hands above your head about. The graphics are almost as fast as a weasel with diarrhoea (You're fired. Ed) and they don't slow down at all when you see other cars. The track itself is pretty simple, but does look just like a, um, racing track really (it could be a very bendy runway as well, I suppose). There are bumps, dips, crash barriers and corner wanting signs, and also rather pretty hills, a town and the sea in the background (not that you'll too much time to see all this).
Right, now to the car itself. You can choose an automatic, which goes 313 kmh or a manual 4-speed which goes just as fast. Or if you're particularly brave/mad you can go for the 7 (count 'em!) gear, 398 kmh turbo looney complete death machine (hem hem).
You can also choose how you want to change gears (using the fire buttons or back and forwards and so on). Very useful. And, amazingly for a driving game, the effects aren't so irritating that they you want to rip your speaker out and use it as a small vase.
Despite my gripes Super Monaco GP is also quite fun to play. There isn't anything particularly innovative about it (its success as a coin-op had a lot to do with the whizzo graphics which you could obviously never reproduce here), but what it does on the Spec, it does well. Speed, smoothness, control and excitement. I've got all these (and you'll find them in Super Monaco, too).
One of the better 3D race games, although a couple of gripes knock it down a bit.
That rear-view mirror in action...
Put your clog down (ie accelerate) past 2 slowcoaches chugging round a corner, and...
Hah! You can see them in the mirror, trailing hopelessly behind you. Fun for all the family!
And here's your score after the French race. You've not done badly (well actually it was me).
You can select the joystick controls for gears, accelerator and brake from this menu here (good thing too, I say!).
You're racing in France, and catching up with some annoying, slow French driver in front.