SNES Review – F-1 Grand Prix

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 You know, I’ve never had problems with motion sickness in the past, but… yeesh.

 F-1 Grand Prix was a Japanese arcade game that was ported to the Super Famicom in 1992, and never saw an official American release. It’s an ambitious attempt to realistically recreate the experience of Formula One racing, within the technical restrictions of a 16-bit system. For racing purists, just building your car from the ground up is probably a fulfilling experience, and for utter masochists, you can set each race to last up to a mind-numbing eighty-one laps.

 Unfortunately, as I’m not an F-1 racing fan myself, and I don’t read Japanese, I’m afraid much of the subtler nuances of this game may be lost on me. Still, it was easy enough for me to navigate through the menu options until I ended up behind the wheel of my Micro Machine-sized racer, hit the gas… and then nearly lost my lunch. The game features a top-down perspective where your car remains facing in the same direction at all times, and the rest of the world spins around you when you turn. It’s incredibly disorienting, especially given the speeds at which you whip around the track. If the game had only a track-level perspective like F-Zero or Mario Kart (or almost any other racing game), or if your car turned on a static track, it would be much easier to play Grand Prix without the need to down Gravol like Tic Tacs.

 The graphics in Grand Prix are simple, but appropriate for the type of game we’re dealing with. I found that during the race, some elements of the display (race position, car damage) had the tendency to glitch out, but that was likely a problem with my copy, as opposed to the game’s actual programming. The sound is on the annoying side, with supercharged engines reduced to the buzzing of angry wasps, struggling for dominance against bubbly background music.

 Full disclosure – I never managed to finish a race in Grand Prix. I made three attempts before my growing nausea forced me to throw in the towel. Having never fully gotten the hang of the complex pit sequences, all three of my attempts saw me forced to retire due to damage to my vehicle – the last time happening when I was approaching the finish line. My poor driving was certainly part of the problem, but the suicidal computer-control racers who showed no compunction against slamming into me at top speeds didn’t help matters, either.

 For die-hard Formula One fans with strong stomachs and a fluency in Japanese, F-1 Grand Prix may hold a warm place in your heart. For me, it was all but unplayable.

     Final Score – 2/10

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