F1 Pole Position – SNES

F1 Pole Position was released in 1992 in Japan, and then 1993 in Europe and North America for the Nintendo SNES.  It was the first in a line of F1 Pole Position / Human Grand Prix games and featured Formula One licensing.

When playing this on my large widescreen TV, I was really unsure of what to expect, would it look terrible?
Fortunately, I soon found out as the game really hits you with it’s big introduction as half a dozen F1 cars come roaring at you from the darkness, with the big engines filling the speakers.   Then the hard and fast music immediately hits in with it’s powerful beat, yes, this game means business!

Game Modes

From the main title screen, which is probably the only screen that doesn’t look as well polished as the others, you get three options; Battle, World Grand Prix and Test Run.

If you want a quick game, Battle is the best option.  In this mode you select your driver and as many ‘rival’ drivers as you want, from 1 to a whole grid.  Then you are given some options such as selecting the weather, track and number of laps. Then it’s down to you for a quick race to beat Mansell, Alesi, Schumacher or one of the other drivers.

The World Grand Prix is the main mode, and allows you to input your name and race a full season with the team of your choice. Thankfully, there is a save option.

The game contains all the 16 racing circuits from the 1992 season, but it only includes seven teams (McLaren, Williams, Ferrari, Benetton, Jordan, Footwork and Venturi) and due to legal reasons at the time, Ayrton Senna has been replaced by Michael Andretti. F1 pole position snes review

 

Graphics

The menus still look gorgeous, with beautiful pixel art, that still look good today (and even on a widescreen TV!) . You can tell that they spent a lot of time with the presentation of this game. For example, when setting up your car, the game shows you the car’s internals and where each piece fits.

f1 pole position snes review benetton car

But do the actual in-game graphics still hold-up today?  Well, yes and no.
The track graphics have been done well, I think that the way the grass, curbs and background have a slight blurred or smudge effect, helps detract from that typically square and pixelated look from many other games from the same era.  In fact, compared to some early Sega Saturn, and even Dreamcast and Playstation 1 games, it holds up well (except, obviously for the lack of 3D objects, such as stands and barriers).

The game screen is split into two, at the top you can either have the rear-view mirror or the latest positions.  The rear-view is another well executed part of this game, with cars coming up behind you looking 3D from the corner of your eye, they still even look quite good if you look at them directly.

However, the downside is the actual car graphics, although they have been drawn well, the rear view of your car feels a little too static, and it feels like you are driving a 2D rectangle around a 3D course.  I think they should have done the same for the player’s car  as they did for the rear view mirror graphics and provide a few different graphics at different angles, depending on where the car is on the road.

f1 pole position snes

Game Play

This feels very much the same as Mario Kart, although a little more serious and quite a bit more difficult.   It will definitely take quite a few plays to truly master braking and cornering in this game, and on the first few tries, you will probably be left behind by your competitors.   However, despite the difficulty, trying to master the corners does remain fun, although sometimes the car does seem to slide from left or right of the road too easily.

You really get a good sense of speed going through the corners, however this isn’t replicated with the straights, as they feel slow and dull.  The other big problem with this game, is the famous lack of collisions with cars.  Even though you do feel a very small bump, cars can pass each other by going straight through them.  Maybe, they left this out due to the limitations, but it is a major let-down for this game.

2 Player

The game also includes a 2 player battle mode, so you can challenge a friend. The difference between cars is notable, so any difference in skill can be made up slightly, by choosing two cars from different ends of the grid, such as a McLaren for the worst driver and a Footwork for the best.   The 2 player mode stops itself becoming boring by allowing you and your friend to race against a full grid to race against, so even if your skills are miles apart, at least you will be able to race someone.

f1 pole position snes 2 player

Settings

Nearly everything can be changed in this game on your car, from the steering and tyres to, the gear shifts, suspension and wings, you can either select the type of pit work you want (1,2 or 3 – although I don’t know what each one means).  This allows you to really set your car up for the wealth of different circuits, such as a high acceleration and good tyres for Monaco, or a low wing for a high speed circuit such as Monza.

Sound

As said before, I really enjoyed the title-screen music, and this fast rhythm continues through the game and really helps you feel a sense of urgency in the game.   The car also sounds really beautiful, even through top quality speakers, with your car’s engine really roaring into life!

 

Overallf1 pole position snes cover

When reviewing this game, I wasn’t expecting it to hold-up as much as it did against modern day games.  But, I was pleasantly surprised.  The graphics and sound are really top quality, and I found myself actually wanting to master the corners and finishing the race, despite being in last place.

I would give it a higher score, but the lack of collisions with other cars, pull this game down a notch, as I felt disappointed that I didn’t have to plan any good overtaking manoeuvres down the straight and instead could drive straight through the other cars.

6/10

Reviewed By Siôn

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