Retro Game of the Day! Super Monaco GP
Super Monaco GP by Sega for arcade/Genesis. Released 1989 and ported a year later, I believe-
Alright - this was one of those games that I just knew was going to be special. The advertisements for it looked crazy, could you honestly get graphics to be that good-looking on a home console at the time? The digitized screens - icing on the cake, but still this game reeked of Tender Loving Care. And when it released, the reviews backed it up.
I was never really a racing buff (especially these simulation types) - not at all really - but when I wrapped my fingers around Sega's arcade version of this I knew it was something to behold, they had those crazy colorful scaling graphics everywhere - you were racing thru a dense city, it seemed quite remarkable at the time. I knew the home port wouldn't be as astonishing, but the kept the feeling quite intact and so many little nice touches were in place. Even if you couldn't care less about racing, this game made you actually start to feel excited about that world.
SMGP was no slouch on any front - audiovisuals were impressive to say the least, and the car handled really well. It's always tough controlling this kind of racer with a control pad, yet the designers did an admirable job here. When I picked this game up, it was easily my favorite racing game ever, and one of my favorite games of any sort for the season. Noooo, "you couldn't do this on Nintendo!"
You could be a wuss like me select auto transmission or you could man up and go for manual, and there were a variety of different racing modes. The best involved joining a team and working your way up through the ranks - though this was strictly an arcade racer, they did a great job of capturing the progressive feel of building up a team and getting a more powerful/competitive racer, especially in these early days where you seldom saw this sort of thing.
Overall, a great early effort from Sega, they really hit their stride with racing games for some time after making this breakthru. Unfortunately, it was short-lived - the franchise kind of petered-out, and F-Zero launched a couple of years later on SNES and completely obliterated this more methodical game in so many ways. I suppose Sega could have tried ot revive things on one of their next units (CD-Rom, 32X, Saturn) but they'd since moved onto Daytona and Vrtua Racing and the like - the days of raster racing were drawing to a close!