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 them.

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?


Curveceous loading screen and good 'gear select' screens, cleanly laid-out in-game display and above-average congratulatory screens. Smart multiload: once you choose your transmission all four tracks are loaded in one.
Good road perspective, mirror works well and the speedy cars look surprisingly good close up.
Well-suited, pacy loading tune by ex-Maniac of Noise, Jeroen Tel. Standard in-game FX include engine tune, screeching tyres and car bumps.
The 'gear select' system introduces the player to the game very easily, but you've got to learn the track layouts to succeed.
Eleven other determined racers weaving around with tight position limits offers a good challenge, beating Turbo Out Run.
A great race game with pace.