We all know that Codies latest offering ‘F1 2014‘ is just around the corner but you’ve probably never heard of these more obscure Formula One video games. Here’s a look at five F1 racers that you may not have known existed.
Exhaust Heat (Super Nintendo)
Known as F1 Race of Champions in North America, this 1992 effort from Japanese studio Seta mixed both the driving and mechanical sides of Formula One, seeing the player buy and upgrade aspects of their car such as engine, suspension, bodywork and tyres before heading out onto any one of the 16 circuits from the 1991 season.
This surprisingly in-depth and good-looking game featured great gameplay and detailed sprites for the unlicensed cars. The accurate circuit layouts utilised the SNES’s ‘Mode 7’ graphics mode – better know from games such as Super Mario Kart and F-Zero – to give a real sense of speed.
F1 Challenge (Sega Saturn)
Not to be confused with EA’s F1 Challenge 99-02 which allowed for a 4-season long career mode, this 1995 effort from Sega was released on their under-appreciated Saturn console. Although the game had full licencing from FOCA, only 5 drivers were playable (Schumacher, Hill, Alesi, Katayama and Hakkinen), the remaining 21 being AI controlled only.
It wasn’t just the driver selection that was limited. Hockenheim, Monaco and Suzuka are the only F1 circuits in the game, with a further 3 street circuits set around a fictional city. Although Sega’s F1 Challenge looks and sounds impressive for the time, Psygnosis’ ‘Formula 1’ on the original PlayStation is probably your best bet for the authentic 1995 season experience!
Rad Racer (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Rad Racer was a street racing game released in 1987. You can tell it was released in 1987 because developers Squaresoft (Better known as the makers of the never-ending JRPG epic ‘Final Fantasy’) used the word ‘Rad’ sincerely in the title.
This game was Nintendo’s answer to Sega’s OutRun, seeing you drive a Ferrari 328 along the open roads of the USA. But did you know there’s also an F1 car in there? The ‘F1 Machine’, looking very similar to the 1987 Lotus 99T is selectable from the main menu, turning the game from a highway cruiser into something more like that scene from Driven.
Checkered Flag (Atari Jaguar)
Originally released in 1991 for the Atari Lynx handheld console, this 1994 3D remake found its home on the ill-fated Atari Jaguar. There are no official circuits or cars, but it’s clear to see that early 1990’s F1 is the inspiration. The single-colour shaded polygons give the game a classic arcade look.
The Jaguar was discontinued having sold only 250,000 units in 3 years, taking Checkered Flag along with it. Atari as a hardware manufacturer never recovered and the company was sold.
The-company-formally-known-as-Papyrus’s MMO racing simulator for the PC is known for its extensive roster of American ovals and collection of stock car models. The experience is so full-on that they even have a fully NASCAR sanctioned virtual racing series with serious prize money!
But did you know that hidden amongst all of those left turns and big-block V8’s there are several Formula One cars? As well as the Classic Lotus 49 and 79 models, the Williams FW31 is available. Nico Rosberg’s 2009 season challenger even has its own virtual Grand Prix Championship season visiting tracks like Phillip Island, Road America, Motegi and other circuits we could only dream about seeing real F1 on.