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Game Review: F-1 Challenge

 

Game Cover Shot

Release Date: 1995
Exhumed Box Front
Number of Discs: 1
Packaging: Standard Case
Number of Players: 1
Simultaneous Players: 1
Languages: English
Controllers: Standard Pad
Arcade Racer
License: Commercial
Publishers: SEGA
Developers: SEGA Sports
Genre: Racing

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Main Review Written by <mick_aka>

 

A fully licensed 1st party Formula 1 game!?
for a young car obsessed chap in the mid 90’s, acquiring this sort of title was a dream come true.

One of my most vivid Saturn memories involves going off into town specifically to purchase F-1 Challenge, it really did look the business, and it really was the business… for about ten minuets.

So how does this title hold up in the objective eyes of a more grown up and dissearning me?
Well if like me you have fond memories of this title look away now...

 
F-1 Challenge Menu
     
F1 Challenge Screenshot
 

F-1 Challenge presents you with the opportunity to race any one of five genuine (circa 1995) Formula 1 cars on a choice of six courses.

There are three courses of various difficulty set around the mythical ‘Neo-City’ as well as three genuine courses; Hockenheim, Suzuka and Monte Carlo which are very accurate reproductions.

Before racing, the game presents you with some basic customization options such as tyres, wing angles and fuel load, unfortunately lacking some of the more advanced options of later games, but this isn’t so important…

     

Once you fly off your mark and take the first corner you may need to instantly quit back to the options screen, one of the rather nice advantages of F-1 Challenge over other F1 titles is that the difficulty mode totally changes the handling characteristics.
The Easy mode presents you with a very easy to handle, arcade, Daytona USA feel if you will, the corners are nice and easy to handle and no serious ability is required.

If you’re an F1 junkie you will want to switch straight into Hard, the handling now takes on a more realistic feel and you will find yourself needing to brake in the appropriate places and consider your positions on the track more precisely.

 

 

F-1 Challenge Screen Shot

     

 

F-1 Challenge Screengrab

 

One of the noticable things graphically is that every competing car sports the same nice quality (albeit low-res) texturing with sponsor logos etc. which is nice to see, as it became very traditional to dumb down the graphical quality of competitors vehicles (blame Atari’s Pole Position for this trend) to save system recourses.
Unfortunately the next thing you notice is the appalling graphical quality of everything else in the game!

On the Neo-City and Monte Carlo tacks in particular the poor texture quality and serious lack of scenery detail totally ruins the feel of the courses, especially on the famous Monte Carlo track which is otherwise an excellent replication of the course.
That said this probably helps the game’s speed which is pretty nice, there’s virtually no slowdown even with many cars on screen and it maintains a pretty smooth feel throughout.

     

F-1 Challenge has the feel of a game that could have been so much more. Only two view modes? A mediocre cockpit view and an awful second-person view that obscures too much ahead of you to be any use, and the floating rear view mirror, which is great when racing from the useless second-person view, but has not been integrated into the actual mirrors for the first person cockpit view.

The scenery texturing is piss-poor, even for 1995 and with the car texturing being so well executed it takes on the feel of an unfinished game, especially flying down towards Mirabeau Haute and Rascasse in Monte Carlo where there are huge sections with no scenery and a view out into a void of solid colour!

F-1 Challenge had masses of potential but falls so short of the mark, the graphics have dated extremely badly, so much so that it’s difficult to ignore during play.
The gameplay does stand up reasonably well but is good at best, not great.

Even back in the day F-1 Challenge was disappointing, and with the Saturn port of the excellent ‘Formula One’ being cancelled F1 fans eventually ended up turning to the far superior Andretti Racing for their salvation.


The Breakdown!...
   
Gameplay:

 

6/10
Stands up reasonably well, enjoyable but sadly lacking the essential 2 player mode.
Graphics:

 

4/10
Car graphics are acceptable, scenery is diabolical, both have aged very badly indeed.
Sound:

 

5/10
Good quality, but nothing special, pretty much what you would expect.
Longevity:

 

3/10
After half an hour you will want to cut off your left foot and beat yourself about the genitals with it.
Originality:

 

5/10
Some innovative features for the time, but much the same as contemporary PC releases.
   
Overall Score:
 

5/10

 

 

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