New Star Grand Prix is a brand new top-down F1 racing simulator for the 2009 season. It cashes in on the old-school style of play, reminiscent of classic racers from the NES days of gaming. But unlike those titles, and in New Star style, there is more to this game than you’d find in any archetypal title from back in the heydays. We are modern audiences and consumers, after all.
The game launched parallel to kickoff of F1 season and features the teams, drivers and tracks that comprise this year’s racing roundup. It’s a good bit of addictive fun that will lock you in and have you determined to master the tracks.
New Star Grand Prix is a top-down racing game inspired by classic games such as Super Sprint and Micro Machines, but brought bang up to date to feature all the teams, drivers and tracks of the 2009 Grand Prix season.
This review will be based on the Mac version of the release. It installs as easily as can be, barely present in your machine with its very mild 23.9MB of required hard drive space. That means everyone has room for this little game on their computer. The price sits at a comfortable $9.99 US for both the Mac and PC version, and does come as a three track demo.
So how is it? New Star Grand Prix not only distinguishes itself from classic top-down racers by updating its content to reflect the members of the 2009 racing season, but does so by taking itself past the humdrum race, win, race, win routine structure that those games had. Don’t judge it by its outward appearance, because there are hidden layers of super duper that its physical appearance doesn’t show. There is a lot of heart and amusement in this title that makes for lighthearted entertainment. It’s like the Carrot Top of computer racing games, if Carrot Top wasn’t all insane and obsessed with weightlifting.
You certainly wouldn’t play it to compare with your Xbox 360 racing games. NSGP knows it isn’t graphically spectacular, and it knows it isn’t going to be winning any awards for special effects, sound or fancy texturing. All it has to support itself is being amusing. That’s the goal, and that’s what you get. Classically inspired fun.
You start by customizing your driver, team, cars, and all that good stuff. The difficulty levels are serious – easy is very easy, hard is maniacal. You can choose whether or not you want the map shown, whether to have to worry about fuel and tires, weather, and the other variables that thwart you during the race. Eventually you get into a race campaign, where you have practice sessions and time trials and big fancy races against other cars. You do have to stop at pit stops or your car will burn and not work. You do have to learn to deal with the weather, as rain makes the track slick. You do have to get the hang of the controls and feel of your car, or you’ll be all over the track. I don’t remember much of that back on the NES.
The sound is good – engine sounds are great, and a human voice tells you your lap time as you whiz around. The controls are simple – forward, back, brake – and the game does support a joystick. The controls are pretty solid and respond well without any delays or glitches. You win races, you get prize money, and you can use it to buy more cars and property than Jay Leno. As with New Star’s other titles, you also have to maintain affairs with your boss, crew, teammates and others. If you don’t, well, you’re not going to become the best racer you can. See? There are tactics and relationship simulation. It’s not a lame game. It’s all really quite fancy, like ladies in chiffon dresses, or drinking wine in a ballroom with your pinkie out, or asparagus gently resting on a bed of white rice.
New Star Grand Prix also has a race editor. That’s right kids. Remember how much fun you had making super complicated tracks for your little fellow to attempt to tackle in Excitebike? Well, this isn’t close to that much fun – but it is still swell that it exists. This would have been a better feature if it were a little easier to use and had more of a purpose.
New Star Grand Prix is an innovative approach to classic top-down racing simulation. It takes simple elements of fun and puts them into a tactical, difficult game that requires skill and a lot of interface mastery to succeed. It’s not your typical low-budget 2D racer, nor is it a multimillion-dollar blockbuster of a game. It’s a creative hybrid of both that results in an addictive product and good old-fashioned fun
Lots of different cars and customization
Weather, tire damage and fuel are fun elements to deal with
More than just a racing game
If you’re a graphics nut, this won’t do anything for you
The track editor is weak