Published on July 6th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
A Review of Super F-1 Hero: Nakajima Satoru would be proud…right? F1 G.U.S. #5
Year: 1992 // System: Super Famicom // Publisher & Developer: Varie // Genre: Racing // Atmosphere: Formula One
>>> The arcade-style Nakajima Satoru Super F-1 Hero nosed its way into the crowded race for Formula One Supremacy on the Super Famicom in 1992, and although copies of this game never shipped beyond the world’s most powerful island chain, its impact was nonetheless felt through FOCA granting Fuji Television the power to license the game, and Satoru Nakajima providing his celebrity endorsement. Although this game takes a drastic turn from the rest of the F1 titles I’ve played so far by only allowing you to race as Satoru and factoring in the arcade-esque continue system…
…this may be the premier F1 racer I was looking for. At least, out of the releases in 1992.
Super F-1 Hero does a lot of subtle things that made me deeply appreciate its racing style. True, there’s not much depth to find here…but of course, this is a port of an arcade title, so I wasn’t surprised that you could only choose between the Free Run and World Grand Prix modes. Again, you can only race as Satoru, and on top of that, you neither change your car’s color scheme nor do you gain access to a plethora of setup options. You can change things around, sure, but I found that as long as you discovered the setup that gives you maximum speed (324 km/h to my knowledge), then you really needn’t adjust anything else.
We come to yet another game that boils down to Formula One racing, and, instead of focusing on driver selections, attempts to recreate the circuit’s sixteen courses as perfectly as the processing power of the Super Famicom would allow. I found that the difficulty of each course progresses with sharper hairpins as you go along. I did notice one thing that this game didn’t include, however: rain. Disappointing as that was, I hadn’t noticed during the entire playthrough until I sat back and thought about it. Mainly because I was zoning out during races as I dominated hapless field after hapless field.
Taking on each course requires a considerable degree of patience, as races last five laps (or four to eight minutes depending on track length) and certain obstacles can sneak up on you and shatter your roadster into chunks of steel and fiberglass. But as long as you keep focused, very few corners will give you trouble. In fact, as long as you know how to turn left and right, then you will only need to brake through an average of two corners per course. Alongside the fairly easy tracks to maneuver, you can secure victory on the very first straightaway. How do you do this? Well, to launch your car off the starting grid, you need to hit your Shift up button before nimbly alternating to your acceleration and powering away. However, as you start in first place, vehicles all around you will shoot by, sending you back to last place in a heartbeat. I actually thought I was qualifying until everyone passed me, and then I thought, “wait, what happened to qualifying?” But soon after I discovered a game-changing (and possibly game-breaking) maneuver that put the race back in my hands.
Not since Al Unser Jr. Turbo Racing and until this title had I seen the return of turbo, and perhaps for good reason. While it evened out the challenge in Turbo Racing, thus special button ensures that you can’t lose the race if you take off properly at the start of the race…and that you don’t mess up later on. It’s the only game I know of that lets me start the race on the pole without qualifying through the use of turbo. It was a pretty nifty device, to be sure, but the fact that I started with FIVE and I’m taking on the easiest Super Famicom F1 courses turns Super F-1 Hero into something of a cakewalk. Then again, one misguided turn and I flew off the course in a broken mess, forcing me to use up a continue. But although there’s some attempt through arcade mechanics to balance out the challenge, this is still the easiest of the F1 racers I’ve played on the Super Famicom. And mind you, the whole time I was playing on Very Hard, which requires you to finish in the top 3 whereas Very Easy allows you to slide on to the next race in the top 8.
I did appreciate the slower pacing of the game, which allowed me to prepare for upcoming turns. Those annoying turn signals still show up, which were honestly rendered unnecessary by the overhead track map, but even so, the tempo accompanied a greater variety of gamers who wanted to try their hand at Formula One.
Just like the rest, Super F-1 Hero wasn’t the best, butunlikethe rest, it was the quickest to learn and the most accessible to casual fans. Although I still may be searching for the best F1 racer overall on the Super Famicom, Satoru Nakajima’s baby here may have already claimed the top spot amongst the 1992 games due to its easygoing nature.
Challenge: 7/10: Giving a rating here was tricky, mainly because you master a couple of techniques and you’re unbeatable…at least, in a perfect world. Even if you can snap off the grid with the lead firmly in your hands, you still have to weave in and out of a handful of unsuspecting corners, dodge around lapped cars who destroy your momentum should you run into the back of them, and avoid certain obstacles that will take you out of the race upon impact. Limited continues also threaten to keep you from seeing the Championship season to its end.
Handling: 8/10: I noticed that if you ease off the gas instead of braking and wheel your vehicle through a hairpin, then your rear-end sort of slides. That to me was a neat little touch of realism. As far as the control scheme is concerned, you have your acceleration, brake pedal, your overhead display toggle, and your turbo, which of course sends you flying. Of course, just like with any rocket of a vehicle, don’t try to turbo your way through a tight corner. That would not be wise.
Innovation: 7/10: Super F-1 Hero was surprisingly unique for opting out of giving you a bunch of drivers to choose from and slimming down to a simple formula: race hard or go home. It’s as arcade as you will get amongst the F1 games on the SFC. Also, turbo changed how you approached each race and gave you a little more in-race strategy to work with than in opposing racing titles.
Core Experience: 6/10: There wasn’t much you could do outside of race as Satoru Nakajima across sixteen tracks. I did like the top-down overview of the course before you switched to a wide open hind-view perspective during the race. But car setups were shallow and you didn’t receive any true reward for winning outside of points that fueled your high score.
OVERALL: 7/Solid: Ladies and gentleman, the first “solid” Formula One Racing game to emerge in the race for supremacy on the Super Famicom! Although its lenient difficulty made me question its merit as a true simulator, Super F-1 Hero’s accessibility gave it something of an edge, as games that are the quickest to jump into are sometimes those that players stick around for the longest.