Genre: Racing Developer: Gremlin Graphics Publisher: Gametek Players: 1 Released: 1993
Nigel Mansell’s World Championship has perhaps the longest title of any Genesis game I have ever played, and it was created by the same Gametek that brought us video gaming giants Family Feud and American Gladiators. Yes, it’s the same Gametek which has elicited much vomiting and screaming due to its miserable and irritating games. This is a genre that Gametek had pretty much no experience with. Will NMWC pass the time trial, or will it crash and burn worse than an Indy car sliding through a corner across the dirt and into the tire wall?
Well, one thing is for sure, the SEGA screen in the beginning is neat, but the sound effects are a little wanting. More on that point later. The game looks to have excellent menus. They’re a little hands off, but they are very slick looking and have a lot of options. Most of the usual ones are there, like championship season, driving practice, options, etc. But, it does have a cool option called “Mansell’s Advice,” which will take you around on a couple practice laps where Mansell will tell you the appropriate speeds to take each corner on each track.
His head appears while you’re driving on the course, which looks mildly creepy. Like the BIG GIANT HEAD from Third Rock From the Sun. That’s a big task for this game to accomplish, as there are 16 different tracks to select from, which is a decent amount. No American tracks, however (‘MERICA, which, hopefully our site’s fearless leader’s land can join soon! Go Puerto Rico!). Which leads me to one of my few RANTS that I have with the racing genre pre-Gran Turismo. Why does every track have to be incredibly difficult and curvy? What’s wrong with an oval? Bah.
Anyway, there are a BILLION options you can mess around with on your car. You can fiddle with your Aerofoil (tail on top of the car), the firmness of the tires (which can affect speed and handling), your gear ratio (do you want your car to shift earlier or do you want it to rev higher so you can improve your acceleration?), and finally automatic or manual transmission (only diehards should do manual). It would have been nice to see the car that’s on the same screen have a pit crew actually making the adjustments, but it’s no big deal.
Finally, something that I had actually missed the first few times playing the game (I have it cart only) was the qualifying option. The text kind of blends in with the menu, which is something I’d fix, but I’m not going to knock much off because of it. No, really, I have only a few major things against this game. One, the sound is a little lacking. The music is okay, but the sound effects, where present, are rather weak. The engine noises especially seem rather stifled.
One of the major things I don’t like is the way the car reacts when you crash; it’s not at all realistic. If you kiss the bumper, or really, slam the bumper, because I don’t think the game is advanced enough to know anything besides “you hit their bumper,” you simply slow way down and fall back. You don’t wreck immediately which is nice, but it’s like being stuck in molasses. That is NOT what happens when you slam an Indy car or an F-1 car in the rear end.
When you DO wreck, it has a great animation of a spin out, but no debris or damage or wreckage of any kind. You can just pick it right back up and get going at your max speed. I’m pretty confident (but I’m not an expert) that if you wreck an F-1, you’re done. I get that it shouldn’t be that extreme, but some kind of damage should be present. The only thing resembling damage is your tire gauge, which you might not even know exists until TIRE WARNING! TIRE WARNING! TIRE WARNING! blares on your screen. There are four little tires near your gear and RPM status screen.
The graphics in the actual gameplay leave a bit to be desired, too. The backgrounds are okay, but the sky and grass is all generic blandness. The one thing the graphics DO accomplish though is the sense of speed. It does make you feel like you’re traveling at nearly 200 MPH. Every other car is the same color, which bothers me, too. I also can’t figure out how to pit. At least in the “single race” option. Oh, this is how. You have to have a TIRE WARNING! TIRE WARNING! TIRE WARNING! to enter the pit, which is near the start line of every lap. Then you press C, to enter the pit and select what tires you want, soft, hard or wet, which don’t sound like tires at all.
There is some kind of an animation here, and it’s not horrible. We’ve certainly seen ones that are a lot worse from GAMETEK. But, my problem with pitting is that, it seems like the AI doesn’t have to pit. This means they blow right by you, if you even managed to make much ground at all. I have never in the history of the years of me playing this game and renting it back in the day, ever won a race. I can’t even remember finishing higher than fourth or fifth.
Is Nigel Mansell horrible, like GAMETEK games mostly are? No, it’s not miserable at all. It just doesn’t have anything that makes it a very fun or exciting game to play. It’s fairly boring, but has a good sense of speed. In a genre of games which has a very small fan base in America, I just can’t recommend this one when there are other games such as Super Monaco GP or especially OutRun (or OutRunners, I still haven’t forgotten how much my readers dislike that game, but I LOVE IT!). I recommend passing this game up near the yellow line for any more than $1 or if it’s deep in a discount bin at a mom and pop shop. (On a separate note: is GAMETEK the LJN of the 16-bit era? Yes, I know about Flying Edge.)
SCORE: 5 out of 10