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Video Game / Monaco GP

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Monaco GP is a series of racing games from Sega based on Formula 1. Unlike their other games like Hang-On or OutRun, Monaco GP focuses on simulating realistic track racing in single-seater, open-wheel cars.

The series consists of the following games:

  • Monaco GP (Arcade, 1979) - Ported to SG-1000
    • The first game in the series. It's not really a racing game, as all you do is to go through the straight road with vehicles and try not dying, much like Midway's Spy Hunter or their own Turbo. Notably, this game was one of the last games to use discrete logic circuits rather than a CPU; as such, it isn't emulated on MAME. If you want to play it in intact form, you must look for Japan-only Sega Saturn complication Sega Ages Memorial Selection Vol. 2.
    • The game was immediately followed by Pro Monaco GP in 1980, which is believed to more-or-less identical to Monaco GP except housed slightly larger cabinet. An updated version of the game was also released in 2003 as part of the Sega Ages 2500 budget line.
  • Super Monaco GP (Arcade, 1989) - Ported to Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Master System, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 & ZX Spectrum
    • Came out after a decade of absence, Super Monaco GP is far closer to its origin than its predecessor, providing a track similar to real-life Circuit de Monaco. Before the main race, you have to qualify in given time in the shortened track to actually participate the race. Rather than being shown in top-down view like its predecessor, the race's perspective is now in first person from inside the cockpit. The Genesis version is more fondly remembered as, in addition to the arcade race, also has a World Championship mode with all 16 races from the 1989 F1 season (though out of order), in which you can challenge rival drivers and, by beating them, take over their seats to drive better cars and get a clearer shot at the trophy.
  • Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II (Genesis, 1992) - Ported to Game Gear & Master System
    • Developed exclusively for home console, Super Monaco GP II is about winning the Drivers World Championship loosely based on 1991 Formula One season calendar. You must compete against 15 other drivers on the tracks, with the ultimate aim of winning enough points to become the champion. As the name suggests, Ayrton Senna worked closely with the developers to ensure a tighter, more realistic driving experience. In place of the titular Super Monaco GP from the previous game, this one features Senna GP, a mode where you can choose from three entirely new tracks for one-off races.

Monaco GP series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: As much as the arcade version of Super Monaco GP was mind-blowing at the time, it didn't have much replay value because it only offered one single track (albeit raced twice, the second time in rainy weather). The Genesis version fixes this issue by adding a World Championship Mode, which introduces tracks over the world from the 1989 Formula One season. All the other Sega ports and European computer versions are based on this (although the latter ones still adhere to the arcade format, with time limits, checkpoints and position limits, as well as apparently only two tracks, Paul Ricard and Jerez).
  • Artificial Stupidity: AI drivers take corners at a much lower speed than possible in the game; this includes some chicanes in which you don't even need to turn to get past them. This makes the AI waste precious seconds, and is pretty much the only reason the Hopeless Boss Fight against G. Ceara in San Marino and Brazil is not entirely hopeless.
  • But Thou Must!: In the Sega Genesis version of Super, if you win the Championship in the first season, you will begin the second one in Madonna, regardless of where you finished the season racing for. The game does not even warn you of it beforehand.
  • The Cameo: Flicky advertisements are all over the place in Super, albeit only in the later revisions. See Product Placement below. Also, other games are referenced in the Genesis version: there is a recurring "Shadow Dancer" sign in some tracks, and one of the boards that can be seen in the background in Monza reads "PS III".
  • Celebrity Endorsement: The title Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II makes clear the Brazilian racer helped with the game, advising on the gameplay and recording tips on the tracks (proving his commitment, Senna only sent in his considerations on Barcelona after racing there). Sega even added a mode with three tracks designed by Senna, one of whom he based on the track on his farm.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the first two races against G. Ceara, if you look closely, you can notice he does a jump start. And he doesn't get penalized from it.
  • Fauxrrari: Each fictional constructor in both Genesis games is based on the real ones that were around at the time of the games, such as Madonna being a stand-in for McLaren and Firenze for Ferrari. Each team's livery is made up of one or two colors which help players tell which teams they are based on, but Madonna's is yellow and red, in contrast with the white and red McLaren used at the time. A complete list of the teams and drivers in Super Monaco GP 2, and the real life entities they are based on, can be seen here.
  • Hard Mode Perks:
    • Using Manual Transmission instead of Automatic greatly increases the car's top speed. Even moreso if you choose to use seven gears instead of four. If you can manage gears while you're racing, you can outrun anything, even on the D Class constructor cars.
    • Defeating G. Ceara in the first two races of the title defense season is the only way you can beat Super's World Championship mode while driving the Madonna car.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Upon starting the second loop on Super, a guy named G. Ceara comes up and declares your days are over. He drives nearly perfectly and is designed to beat you until you get demoted to a lower crew, keeping you from using the precious Madonna car. By playing exceptionally well, however, it is possible to outrun him. This event lasts for the first two races. Whether you manage to outrun him or lose his AI will suddenly give up on the third race, greatly dropping in difficulty. Despite him being based on Ayrton Senna, of all people.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II. As a matter of fact, he was heavily involved in the development, designing the tracks and writing the advice for the player. He's also the Madonna team driver.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Madonna car in both games has all stats topped out: acceleration, top speed, cornering... The biggest part of the challenge in landing a seat on it is that, no matter how many times you beat it, you won't get it until your title defense season, even if you're in another A-class team that can give Madonna a challenge (and if you lose your seat to G. Ceara, you are not getting back to Madonna, period). The second game reinforces this by putting Madonna in its own rank above A.
  • Klingon Promotion:
    • A non-lethal variation. If you select a driver as your rival in two races, and you defeat him in both, you get offered his seat. You can even get a Klingon Demotion if your rival is in an inferior car.
    • In the second season, G. Ceara is almost certain to pull this on you and your Madonna car. Unlike what happens when you achieve this, you don't end up in his Bullets car, but in Dardan.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: The flyer for the first game features a well-coiffed woman in a racing driver uniform sitting in the game's arcade cabinet. There are no female drivers in the game.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Going in line with Fauxrrari, every constructor in the two console versions has a fictional driver that has the same nationality as and a mugshot that strongly resembles one of the drivers that were part of the real-life equivalent of their team in the 1989 and 1991 seasons (with the exception of G. Ceara in Super, who starts in Bullets even though Ayrton Senna never raced for Arrows). For example, McLaren equivalent Madonna has frenchman A. Asselin, based on Alain Prost. The only exception is Ayrton Senna in the second game.
  • Product Placement: A quite infamous case thanks to the lawsuit involved with it. Back in the days, developers at Sega liked to sketch faux-billboards that rip off real-life designs. In case of Super Monaco GP, there was a Marlboro-like flag featured right at the title screen which, other than being misspelled "Marlbobo", looked virtually identical to the brand it's based on. When Philip Morris found it out, they weren't happy about the unauthorized presence of the trademark and the fact that their cigarettes were possibly being marketed to the underage. Eventually, Sega was forced to change them all in later revisions where it's replaced with the reference to their older game, Flicky.
  • Race Against the Clock: In the eponymous Super Monaco GP mode. Notably, you only race against the clock if you are not above the target position, which keeps increasing as you get through checkpoints.
  • Sequence Breaking: If you somehow manage to make G. Ceara anywhere below second place in the San Marino GP in the title defense season of Super, he won't challenge you in Brazil.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's possible to crash into the flagman and send them flying in Super and II. There's no disadvantage for doing this.