Published on July 5th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
A Review of F1 Pole Position: F1 G.U.S. #4
Year: 1992 // System:SNES // Publisher: Ubisoft // Developer: Human Entertainment // Genre: Racing // Atmosphere: Formula One
>>> After being astounded by the staggering number of F1 racing games released for both the SNES and Super Famicom, I set out to play them all to find the one competitor that stood above them all with the greatest Challenge, strongest Handling, best use of Innovation, and most compelling Core Experience. I’m about halfway through just the racing games released in 1992, and from what I read about F1 Pole Position, especially with Michael Andretti being featured as one of its marquee drivers, it appeared that I was in for a stellar Formula One simulation that was like no other, at least of that year.
Turns out I still need to keep searching.
F1 Pole Position mashes the accelerator from the flash of the green light, but sputters over the long stretch. Your have your typical array of game modes…Battle, Free Run, and the Championship Mode. As in Battle Grand Prix, the Battle Mode pits you against one other drive of your choosing. Taking on one other driver can quickly get used to the competitive factor…or, rather, how tedious that factor will become unless you qualify extremely well. In other words, while Battle mode prepares you for the racing aspect in F1 PP’s emulation of the World Grand Prix, Free Run helps you find the most suitable racing grooves and setups for setting the circuit on fire with blistering qualifying laps in Championship events.
A hind-view camera as featured in Exhaust Heat mixes with the split-screen perspective utilized in Battle Grand Prix to give a cramped view of the racetrack. There are, however, some perks to this cramped view.
In Free Run and Practice (which should have been called QUALIFYING), the top half of the screen cuts out your view of the track to give you lap times you have set (Free Run) or need to beat (Practice) in order to win the pole. For Battle mode, the top half of the screen allows you to see your opponent and his location on the racetrack. And during Championship races, the top half transforms into your rear-view mirror to help you see movement from the AI competitors who are on your tail. This was the first game I had played of the F1 SNES simulators that allowed me to see what was going on behind me, and I definitely appreciated knowing how much distance I had on pursuers, or careful I had to be through a certain stretch of the track.
I must say that F1 Pole Position is aptly named, because if you want to stand any chance of winning, then you need to do everything in your power to sit on the pole. Getting caught behind the field will quickly become your worst nightmare.
The game engine shows you no mercy as one bump from your front-end to the opponent’s back-bumper and YOU go spinning around! Granted, most F1 racing games seem to follow the convention that slight contact with the opponent will end up ruining your day. But here, the tracks are so narrow, and the AI take up so much of the track already, that you really need to perfect your entrance through some of these corners to snake on by, and you’ll be lucky if you make all of your turns stick! It seems that if you try to pass other drivers, there’s an eighty percent chance that you will be punished for it. Therefore, master the track so you don’t have to deal with the stubborn competition. But, then again, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having AI? CPU drivers should be tough, but NOT nearly impossible to try and swing around. Out of the four racing titles I’ve played, F1 Pole Position did the worst job in drawing up its competition system.
I’ve already seen that some fans out there argue that it’s one of the most realistic F1 simulations out there. That may be so, and if this were an easier game, then it may not be realistic. But there are two ways that Pole Position could have appealed to casual fans or to those looking for a little more leeway: by widening up the racetracks and adding in an adjustable difficulty setting.
Challenge: 5/10: Tracks are oftentimes too narrow to make adequate passes without scraping through the grass, and one brush of the AI’s tailpipes and you go around. The layout of the Championship mode is done well, but the actual racing itself can become a nightmare for those not hardcore about everything Formula One.
Handling: 7/10: Steering was definitely harder in this game than in the others I’ve played, but I feel that this game was trying to emphasize the sheer difficulty of wheeling one of those roadsters around such difficulty racetracks. I thought the setups corresponded fairly well with how the vehicle’s response to changes. Also, pacing gave you enough time to prepare for upcoming corners without the need for annoying turn signals flashing overhead.
Innovation: 7/10: This was yet another Formula One Racer trying to compete for sales and and the hearts of Formula One enthusiasts throughout Japan, Europe, and the States. However, the incorporation of perspective into the the different modes accounted for a slightly higher caliber of variety within in F1PP than in other F1 releases for the SNES and Super Famicom.
Core Experience: 6/10: While perspectives depended on the mode you were racing in, every one of those views limited your visibility of the track to half the screen, creating a cramped sensation. Furthermore, 14 drivers on the grid were not as impressive as the 25 on-track in F-1 Grand Prix, and you had less teams to choose from (only seven teams with two selectable drivers per team…down from 16 teams in F-1 Grand Prix), with some teams listed as being better than others (McClaren and Benetton were credited as the best, while Venturi had the worst visible stats). Although the imbalanced teams craved realism, it may have not pleased fans of Venturi or Footwork that their favorite teams would not fare as well on the track as, say, Andretti and Schumacher. Plus, I keep noticing disappointed fans asking “Where’s Senna?” I know neither who Senna is nor where he was, but obviously the creators of this game turned some gamers off by not including Senna.
OVERALL: 6.3/Decent: It’s not bad, but it’s not the best of the bunch. F-1 Pole Position has its fans, but I won’t be among those who sing its praises due to its headache-inducing AI and thin roster of teams and drivers.