F-1 Race
  • Genre:
    • Racing
  • Developers:
    • HAL (NES)
    • Nintendo (GB)
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    NES
    • JP 11/02/1984
    GB
    • JP 11/09/1990
    • US 02/03/1991
    • UK 10/10/1991
Score: 60%

This review was published on 04/24/2018.

F-1 Race is a racing video game published by Nintendo for the Famicom and original Game Boy. HAL Laboratory developed the Famicom version, which was exclusively released in Japan on November 2, 1984. Nintendo then developed the Game Boy port and released it in Japan on November 9, 1990, North America on February 3, 1991, and Europe on October 10, 1991. The Game Boy version came packaged with the Four Player Adapter, which could be combined with Game Link Cables to play with up to four players. Believe it or not, Nintendo released a couple of racing games before F-Zero and Super Mario Kart. Along with Mach Rider in 1985, F-1 Race is one of them. It's nowhere near as good as Nintendo's later racing games, but it wasn't too bad for the time period. Still, F-1 Race isn't exactly exhilarating to play today. The same could be said about almost every racing game that predated Mario Kart, though.

Image

Similar to most classic racing games, such as Namco's Pole Position, F-1 Race is a 2-D racer that attempts to simulate 3-D graphics to let you see what's coming up ahead on the track. For the basic controls, you hold the A button to accelerate your vehicle, and hold the B button to activate the brakes. If you try to accelerate and brake at the same time, you'll go at a medium speed that makes it easier to take sharp turns. On that note, you steer the car left or right by pressing those directions on the d-pad, and pressing up or down switches gears. If you're not very good at shifting gears in real life, don't worry, because this game greatly simplifies the process. Unlike real cars, there are only two gears; "HI" and "LOW." Obviously, the LOW gear is for a slow speed and the HI gear allows you to reach a higher top speed. Once you get the hang of shifting gears, controlling the game is fairly easy.

Image

The main objective of the game is to race across the track within a strict time limit. If you fail to do two laps before the timer runs out, you won't be allowed to proceed to the next track. You don't really have to worry about passing the other racers, though you do have to avoid crashing into them. Colliding into other cars or objects instantly causes your car to explode, forcing you to waste precious seconds of your time waiting for your vehicle to reappear. There are three difficulty levels selectable on the title screen, and each one has five distinct tracks. You'll see a map of the current track located at the top of the screen, which helps you gauge upcoming turns. The final track on each difficulty goes on for as many laps as it takes for you to lose, so there's no way to "win" this game. It's all about getting high scores.

Image

In addition to the lack of color, lower resolution, and multiplayer support, the Game Boy version differs pretty wildly from the original Famicom release. Much of the core mechanics mentioned above have been altered. First of all, the manual gear switching has been replaced with a speed boost system referred to as "Jets." Whenever you hold up on the d-pad, you'll get a boost of speed, but doing so takes away from your Jets meter at the bottom of the screen. If your Jets meter is empty, you won't be able to boost for the remainder of the current race. Secondly, colliding with cars and objects no longer results in the total destruction of your vehicle, but it still slows you down. Thirdly, this version lets you power slide like in Super Mario Kart. These modifications result in a more pleasant playing experience, because they give the game a tad more depth.

Image

Not only are the core mechanics different, but the very act of racing has also been changed in the Game Boy iteration. Technically, the original Famicom release had no actual racing in it, but that's not the case for the Game Boy version, which has a real "Grand Prix" mode. In Grand Prix, there are no time limits, but it's a proper race where you actually have to focus on passing the other racers. You must make first place in order to progress to the next track in the Grand Prix; anything less counts as a loss. There are only nine tracks in the Game Boy release, which is far less than the Famicom original. However, all the tracks are entirely original in the Game Boy version, featuring distinct layouts and themes. Each track is now set in a different part of the world, such as Australia, Canada, North America, Portugal, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India, and Egypt. You also get to see cameos of various Nintendo characters if you place first in a track, like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Link, Samus, Donkey Kong, and even Pit. It's moderately neat.

Image

Other features the Game Boy version adds are a "Time Trials" mode and the aforementioned Multiplayer. Time Trials lets you race on a track of your choice, with or without other racers, to see how fast you can complete it. As for Multiplayer, it's the obvious choice if you wish to play with real human beings, though you can play against the AI, as well. The last notable feature unique to the Game Boy version is the ability to pick one of two racecars, referred to as "Type A" and "Type B." They have marginally different stats, like max speed without boosting, max speed while boosting, and quantity of Jet fuel. However, the differences don't have a significant impact on your performance. Surprisingly, the Game Boy version also saves your progress. This feels a little unnecessary for such a short game, but it's nonetheless a nice feature to have.

Image

For one of Nintendo's earliest racing games, this isn't too bad. This was also a pretty decent title to own for the Game Boy back in the day, since the multiplayer was moderately enjoyable and it even came with the Four Player Adapter, which could be used for other games. However, F-1 Race isn't very good when compared to Nintendo's future efforts in the genre, and hard to stomach by today's standards. There's really not much of a reason to play it now.

Word Count: 1,068

Tweet