Super Monaco GP
Copyright/Publisher: US Gold/Sega Arcade Hits, Arcade Game Created By: Sega,
Programmed By: Grant Harrison, Graphics By: Nick Cooke. Music By: Jeroen Tel
(Maniacs Of Noise), Release Year: 1989, Genre: Formula One, Number Of Players: 1
Monaco has to be the most glamorous and exciting Grand Prix race, dropping a
gaggle of 200mph speed machines onto the streets of Monte Carlo. It's incredibly
dangerous, noisy and absolutely exhausting for the world's best drivers but
who could resist taking part?
While waiting to be turned into sliced beef on a nasty hairpin turn you could
take a stroll along those famous golden beaches, lose a year's wages in the
excluseive casinos and maybe even chat up a princess.
And what better incentive to risk your life could you want than the chance to
meet Princess Stephanie, with her hip-cut designer swimsuits, sultry eyes,
dangerous attitude and big, uhm, shoulders? It sure beats Brands Hatch with the
rain, hot dogs and Fergie falling out of her limo!
In the original coin-op you were plucked off the streets to swap your jeans
for an asbestos suit and a ticket to Monaco. But for the home computer market
this is all too easy - before getting your chance to become an internatiobal
playboy you must prove yourself on three other tracks: France, Brazil and Spain.
On all the tracks you must do a qualification lap to determine which position
you start at.
The computer will decide at random whether conditions are wet or dry. Once in
the three-lap race you have to beat some peculiar qualification rules. With each
lap you make, the position you have to be in goes up one: if you're not in that
position as you cross the finish line you're removed from the rece - game over.
Before you can accelerate yourself into oblivion you must decide how quickly
you're going to do it. There are three car transmissions to choose from:
Beginner's Automatic (Low skill level with a low top speed to match),
Intermediate 4-Gear System (Medium skill level with faster acceleration and
sligthly higher top speed) and the awesome Professiobal 7-Gear System (High
skill level with a monster engine and a hair-raising top speed of 200+mph).
Needless to say, if you hit any roadside object at speed you disappear in a
ball of flame! It's death or glory on the asphalt with just a single life, but
you can't play cautious when you're aiming to impress a Princess!
Monaco doesn't offer anything particularly new or original to the race game
genre, but there are surprisingly few good racers around and this is the first
C64 game to use the superlative Turbo graphics system.
The mirror works particularly well on the C64 where the number of cars ob
screen is inevitably limited - the mirror allows three cars on screen and gives
a good sense of being in the thick of a Formula One pack.
Unlike Turbo where it was mainly a case of beating the clock, Monaco forces you
into some really tight overtaking situations and the one life system makes for
a much more realistic feel. This game makes you sweat!
On both C64 and Amiga success seems impossible initially, but if you persist
the game begins to open up into a compulsive challenge. Of the two versions, I
prefer the C64 one as the Amiga has a little bit of pale palette ST-itis, but
the sheer number of cars on the road help compensate.
Without doubt both conversions offer pole position racing action and US Gold's
decision to quadruple the number of tracks means there's plenty of lastability.
Sheer speed makes Monaco stand out from the crowd of racers currently available.
On the C64, this is provided by Grant Harrison's version of the Visual FX Turbo
graphics system - the speed's even more amazing considering the extra processing
time needed for the added rear-view mirror and cars getting larger as you approach
On both versions the graphical speed is exhilarating as you edge perilously
closer to the edge of the track to get round the bends as fast as possible -
especially as the brakes are very sensitive, so you must only tap them lightly
if you don't want to slow to a snail's pace.
An ever-decreasing position limit forces you to really pur your foot down,
weaving between intelligent computer cars at top speed. In short, Monaco
perfectly captures the intense Grand Prix atmosphere with a thrilling combination
of skill, speed and daring.
Like all Sega racer coin-ops, Monaco was tour de force of layered graphics but this
one was different in that it relied on timing and precise car handling if you were
to get round the Monaco course in one piece, something which makes the playability
of both home versions a cut above most simplistic racers.
Grant (SCI) Harrison's C64 programming makes for a decent speed effect, not quite
as fast as in SCI but still pretty good together with some good Nick Cooke graphics,
ZZKJ's experience with Super Hang On pays off with the Amiga version going flat out
and capturing the need for speed in fine style, although the one-sided buildings
look a little odd rushing past. The fun of the 16-bit game comes from just
rocketing along, tackling bends at daringly high speeds. Great fun.
Top marks too for structuring the C64 game so that you don't have to rewind
tape every five minutes. You can put in a good number of beginner's runs before
you decide to upgrade the gear system and attempt a Cup-winning session.
The Amiga doesn't suffer even with multiload per track, and there's a nice
rendition of the coin-op's attract mode. Pity the congratulatory screen is a
little indistinct and those women are outrageously proportioned - by the way,
which one's Steph?