Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Monaco is famous for two things - the motor racing Grand Prix and Princess Stephanie. Interestingly enough, a game involving Princess Stephanie doesn’t exist, so we’ll just have to settle for another game about the Grand Prix.
The sequel to Super Monaco GP, cleverly named Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II, comes with some dazzling new features. There's a construction option which gives the driver the chance to build the kind of car that suits him. Any self-respecting racing driver can tell you that in wet weather hard grip tyres are essential. The gears, wings and transmission can also be changed. Once the car is set, qualifying for pole position is the next priority. Getting a good lap time improves your grid position, giving the driver a greater chance of being first past the chequered flag.
If there is one man who is more likely to get his hands on the cup, it's Ayrton Senna, who endorses the game and offers advice on how to tackle the exhausting circuits. Total concentration is necessary to successfully negotiate the bends and take full advantage of the straights. But if Senna does win there is one consolation - he’s being thrashed by Mansell this season!
Get those spanners out because it's time to construct the car. The procedures are fairly simple so don't worry about not being mechanically minded. Tyres are probably the most important part of the car - the weather dictates which type to use. Another dilemma is whether to use manual or automatic gear change. Manual gear change takes more time to master but ultimately yields better results.
When you feel you're ready to challenge the nifty Brazilian, it's time to enter the World Championship. There are 16 circuits which span the globe, and getting used to each one is important. It is possible to go straight into a race but it means starting in last position on the grid. If the qualify option is chosen the lap times of the driver are recorded. The better they are the better the grid position.
In the World Championship consistently good performances are necessary to be in with a chance of winning. Your placing is displayed in the centre of the screen. First place earns the driver ten points, and second place earns six. Beware when passing other drivers because if there is a collision valuable seconds are lost. Taking the correct approach when overtaking or negotiating bends requires fine judgement.
In the top right of the screen is a map of the entire course. It plots where you are and where Senna is. Although Senna gives advice on how to take advantage of the course, regular glances at the map are important in order to prepare for tight bends and chicanes. Every Grand Prix tends to have five or six laps so a mistake could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Burning up a computer car!
Aaargh! What's gone wrong? The original Super Monaco GP was great - this sequel is absolute cack. For a start the game is unbelievably slow. Even at top speed the car chugs along like a knackered Yugo. Worse still is the jarring, grating sound. It's truly dire and had me reaching for the volume knob within a few seconds. Finally, the challenge level is very low. It takes very little practice to master how the car handles, and once you’ve got used to banging it down one gear for a 90 degree right and two gears for anything tighter and then changing up as you exit the bend you'll never crash and win all the time. If you're a speed freak after some excitement, check out the original Super Monaco GP, Chase HQ, Battle Outrun, Outrun... anything, really, except this hopeless travesty.
First impressions are promising. The range of options is more impressive than the Megadrive version, and although the idea of constructing the car is nothing new, it’s still a useful option, as is Senna's advice corner. Once I started racing though it was a different story. The speedometer might claim the car is doing 300 kph, but I found myself expecting the vicar to come wheeling past on his bicycle. Basically, the whole concept of speed is unrealistic. Some of the blame for this can be directed at the graphics which, while not disastrous, do little to enhance the Formula One atmosphere. The music and sound effects contribute nothing to the Grand Prix experience either - the engine sounds like psychotic hair-dryer! Super Monaco GP II is a big disappointment and isn't a game I can recommend at all - even to the most inept of drivers.
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