Genre: Racing Developer: Lankhor Publisher: Domark Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
Taken from the back of this game’s box: “It’s the fastest racing game ever on Genesis!” Now this statement may well be true, as the turbo mode moves blaze fast; too fast to control really. Now is this a good game you might ask? The answer is no, not really.
I’m not really much of a fan of racing as a sport but I really do enjoy playing racing video games, so when I found a copy of this game I bought it for the few bucks figuring that it would be a fun time waster and another chance to review an obscure and forgotten title for all of you here at Sega-16. When I got to playing it I was treated to a complete chore of a game. That’s not to say that it’s not without its enjoyable moments, but this game is so full of sloppy programming flaws that it cripples what could have been a really fun arcade-style F1 racer, and it’s as if the programmers only wanted to get the fastest racing speeds possible on the Genesis and nothing else.
When you fire the game up all of the basic options are there, but none are terribly remarkable. You can choose a single race, a tournament where you select several tracks to race on, and a tournament where you race through all of the twelve tracks. I don’t recommend the complete twelve race mode though, as many of the tracks take several minutes a lap to complete, and I got really bored trying to sit through many of the races.
Formula One is much more of an arcade game than a true Formula One simulation, and the goal is to place in the top six. If you lose a race then you get a few tries at redoing the current race, or it’s game over. The gameplay can be pretty tough on the eyes since it sacrifices graphics for speed and doesn’t look very nice in the least. The cars themselves look decent and resemble F1 cars pretty well with a lot of detail, but the tracks start too all look the same making track memorization pretty tough.
The game is full of problems though. To start, the physics are just not very accurate at all. The braking mechanics aren’t even close, and often all you need to do to make even hairpin turns is tap the brakes early and let off of the accelerator. You also accelerate faster than all of the other cars, making the game very easy to pass everyone. The biggest problem is trying to pass the cars. Sometimes you will try to pass a car on a turn, and you will just bump them and crash or run off of course. I didn’t have a problem with this, but many times you will hit them at just the right angle and will jump over them. On a straightaway it’s not a problem at all and can often times give you a unfair lead in the race, but on a turn it will throw you far out into the field off course, or you’ll crash into a bridge or other landmark where you will lose a ton of time. This is probably one of the lamest problems with this game.
The other big problem is with the pits. The pits simply let your change your spoiler or refuel, but it’s all done through a simple menu and isn’t very realistic at all. When you’re approaching the pits the game puts a wrench icon on the screen letting you know you’re approaching them, but it’s still very hard to see where they are exactly as the graphics are so minimal that they often look like the rest of the scenery. The pits look like a red lean-to kind of thingy, and if you bump another car or bump a wall or side of the pit then the game resets your car back onto the track, and you miss your chance and have to complete another lap. If you don’t slow down fast enough once your in the pits then you miss your chance. Often I missed the pits or bumped a wall and didn’t have enough fuel for another lap and lost a race.
Formula One has several difficulty settings, but even on the hardest settings the AI seemed to still be stupid, and it was easy to win races due to the above mentioned sloppy programming. If this wasn’t enough for you then you can try the turbo mode which simply plays too fast to keep up with. It’s as you’re were trying to play the game in fast forward and trying to actually control it sensibly. It’s probably the lamest add-on I’ve ever seen a company try to hype ever. If you still need more of this game then there’s a lame two-player mode where you can play against the CPU or another player, and it’s as boring as it sounds.
I’ve spoken about the graphics in some detail above, but as I’ve stated they’re pretty lame and basic and not much to look at at all. If I had to compliment it on something then I guess the menus look decent and are easy to navigate. There’s some decent tunes in this game (non memorable), but the sound effects are pretty bad. The sound of the engines are too high pitched especially coming from the Genesis which is capable of much nicer sound effects.
Formula One is an amusing game to play around with and can almost be fun for a little while, but it’s far too broken and problematic to be close to enjoyable. I could forgive the graphics if they just fixed the mechanics, but as it stands it’s not worth the time to play it, and you should probably pass unless you have to own every Genesis game ever made like me!
SCORE: 4 out of 10