Sometimes a title appears which changes the face of computer gaming forever. A game with style, originality, incredible graphics and unbelievable addictiveness. Super Monaco GP is not one of these games. Fortunately it doesn't even pretend to be - it's a racing game.
You can choose from three types of vehicle: a bog-standard automatic which is about as useful as a loofah in the Sahara desert, or two manual shift cars, one with four gears and the other with seven. Obviously, if you can handle the seven gear car, it's your best bet. Joystick control is possible but only recommended for masochists.
There are four tracks from around the world on which to compete, but you have to win on each one before you can compete on the next. Before you can race at all, you need to qualify within the top 15 on an empty track - tail at this stage and the game ends before it's even begun. Qualify and you're through to the main event.
To win on the first three tracks - France, Brazil ant Spain - you have to complete three laps and be one of the first few cars to pass the checkered flag. it's not easy. Driving into the side barriers doesn't cause an immediate crash, but make sure you get back onto the track as quickly as possible or you can say goodbye to your wheels, chassis and probably your legs. Other drivers regularly but you up the backside without a scratch - but try the same yourself and you soon know the meaning of pain. When - and if - you eventually make it through all the heats, you get the chance to race at Monaco itself, first in dry conditions where you must finish in the top three to qualify, then in the wet, where you must simply try to finish!
SMGP (as it's known to its friends) is a very professional program. The track scrolls smoothly, the roadside sprites are detailed enough and the other cars look great. The only problem in the graphical department is the way the sprites lose resolution as they approach you - trees become a mass of green blocks, for example.This technique is necessary to keep the speed of the game constant, but it does mean you lose out on some of the realism.
The screen is very colourful too because the programmers manage to display more than 16 shades on screen at once - though unfortunately they don't show up on our screenshots. Visually, then, there's really nothing much to complain about.
Sound is a different matter. There are no samples at all, just a standard intro tune and run-of-the-mill squeal-skid noises during the game. A beefy scream of agony as you're engulfed in a twisted mass of tortured metal would have livened things up a bit.
There isn't anything new to say about Super Monaco GP – although the unnecessarily abbreviated title might tempt you to make some off- hand reference to extremely wealthy doctors who practise on the Riviera.
The game is competently put together, but it's still just another racing simulation. However, it is disheartening to find that a company as capable as US Gold can still release such an average title, It may be a cliche, but the best advice is this: buy Super Monaco GP if you're into racing games in a big way, otherwise you may be disappointed,