Newman/Haas IndyCar

I though Tom Selleck had let himself go for a second there...

I’m starting to wonder what’s left to say about racing games on the Super Nintendo. Most titles you encounter tend to follow the same formula set by Pole Position back in the early 1980’s, with either a behind-the-car or first-person perspective and pseudo-3D graphics for the track. Some of these tried to inject a bit more depth into the gameplay by introducing elements such as turbo pads (boosts speed), brake and suspension wear (boosts realism), or banana peels (boosts energy and cardiovascular health, not to mention clichéd physical comedy antics).

But therein lies what seems to be the root of my issue with most of these racing games. There just doesn’t seem to be all that much variety. Find the accelerate button, maybe the brake button (not the buttons to change gears, though, as I can do a fine enough job of losing with an automatic transmission), and go. I mean, I did find this game somewhat entertaining. I also found Pole Position entertaining as well back in the day. There’s not a huge difference between the two here. Sure, Newman/Haas IndyCar looks nicer with its 16-bit era graphics. That would be just mean to compare the graphics of Pole Position to it. On the other hand, your car doesn’t immediately explode on impact in a giant ball of fire and assorted parts in this game like it does with Pole Position. Points lost for that mistake, Newman/Haas.

This game also proudly features racing driver Nigel Mansell. I don’t know who he is, but I can’t deny the allure of his majestic mustache. Points regained.

I couldn’t help but wonder though how much different this game would be if it was instead Newman/Haas IndyCar featuring Clint Mansell, with the soundtrack replaced by old Pop Will Eat Itself tunes. Alright, the transition to SNES music would have most likely been a bit painful. Either way, a racing game with “Not Now James, We’re Busy…” (which covers James Brown’s 1988 arrest after a high-speed car chase) playing in the background would have been far more entertaining and appropriate.

Wait a sec…a racing game with a drug-addled James Brown at the wheel as well? Solid fucking gold.

"Faster, Soul Master! They're coming at you from all directions!"

Michael Andretti’s Indy Car Challenge

Michael Andretti's Ego-Driven Challenge™
Yes, the wall is covered with nothing but the word "Michael"...

So, do you like IndyCar racing? Do you like looking at Michael Andretti’s face? Do you like looking at Michael Andretti’s name? Not just a little, I mean a lot

Well, then this game’s for you!

Now keep your distance, you sick bastard…

Michael Andretti's Indy Car Menu™
Hey there...

Excessive display of Señor Andretti’s crude, palletized visage aside, Michael Andretti’s Indy Car Challenge presents us with a fairly bland arcade racing experience. The main championship game mode is supplemented by your typical practice race option, as well as a versus mode in case you have any friends who also share an unhealthy fetish for Michael Andretti. That’s about it. Sure, you can use a password to continue an existing championship game, but who in their right mind that isn’t actively defending the Confederate flag as “heritage not hate” whilst proudly displaying it above the gun rack in their beat-up dually truck would want to continue after playing once?

Controls are at least fairly responsive, helping make the game easy to pick up while at the same time remaining challenging/awkward enough that you’re probably not going to succeed in every race on the first try. The game also has the distinction of providing a “reverse” button, because how many times have you played a racing game and wished you could drive in reverse? Well, in all honesty, I admit that I have. Then again, I’m an asshole, so you can’t expect much less now.

Graphically, this game isn’t going to win any beauty pageants. All cars are palette swaps of the same rudimentary set of illustrations, and the Mode-7 tracks look like…well…Mode-7 tracks. Seriously, you can’t expect much else from the Super Nintendo’s Mode-7 effects. They almost make the platform a breeding ground for boring, ugly racing games.

Michael Andretti's In-game Screenshot For Your Eyeballs™

Unless you absolutely love Michael Andretti and want to have, like, ten million of his babies, you should save your allowance money for something else.