Proof that in a games publishing world dominated by multi-million dollar projects and prolonged development cycles, one person can still churn out an interesting game, and at a very attractive price too.
New Star Grand Prix is the latest title from Simon Read, previously responsible for the really very good New Star Soccer series, and he’s basically tried to marry up the old overhead Super Sprint racing game style to a Formula 1 season. And in the spirit of New Star Soccer, you set up a character to start with who has to keep friends, the pit crew, the boss and the fans happy.
Mostly that’s down to your performance on the track, aside from the odd decision you’re invited to make (such as do you want to go out with your friends). But this element is pulled back a little from the full-on depth of the New Star Soccer series, although you can still go off gambling to try to boost your bank balance and thus stock up on a few luxuries.
The emphasis instead is clearly on the track, and it’s wise to take the time to practice New Star Grand Prix’s many circuits in advance on your first run through the game, before you try to take on qualifying. Because, simply, in the early stages there’s a fair chance that you’ll find New Star Grand Prix a beast to control. We went through a similar thing back in the Super Sprint days, and we actually found here that redefining the keyboard gave us the best overall control.
Once we’d done that, working our car around the track became straightforward, if rarely easy. The game rightly reflects the fact that F1 cars are twitchy critters, and as a result it’s a challenging game. In fact, scrub that: if you try anything above a beginner difficulty level, you’re in for a very tough time. It’s a problem, really, as the gap between different difficulty gradings is a little too broad, though time and practice does narrow it down.
The qualifying and racing itself – and you scale the length of the races in laps easily enough – kicks off with you loading fuel into the car and choosing tyres. There aren’t many variables here, but it’s wise to be on top of them. Likewise, choosing when to take a pit stop is a vital art. You don’t want to run out of fuel, you don’t want your car to take too much damage, and you want your tyres to be up to the job. Crucially, you also don’t want everyone else to overtake you.
It’s a challenging game, but it is, once you’ve spent some time getting used to it, an enjoyable one, particularly for the low asking price. New Star Grand Prix is, though, a title we found we enjoyed best in small doses, simply because keeping up with it in the midst of a frantic race became exhausting (albeit in a good way!).
It’s a welcome hark back to a lost iteration of the racing game, wisely bolted to the competitive demands of Formula 1 racing (helped still further by the inclusion of online leaderboards built onto the game’s dashboard). It’s easily worth the asking price.
Company: New Star Games