Author Topic: New Star GP (Switch) Review  (Read 1036 times)

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Offline VMPhil

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New Star GP (Switch) Review
« on: March 07, 2024, 11:59:15 AM »

Bite sized sim racer for the beginner F1 enthusiast

It's 1992, I’m 12 years old, and I have a pocket full of quarters as I walk into Diversions arcade in Chicago. I weave past Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2 headed for the racing games. Virtua Racing has a bit of a line but still, I put my quarter up, waiting to take a seat at one of the coolest racing games of the time. I can only imagine that the development team at New Star Games have had similar fond memories of the sit-down arcade racers of old. The polygonal aesthetic and feel of games like Daytona USA and Cruis’n USA have long shaped my love for racing games, and it seems like that nostalgic feeling is returning to a Switch near you in the form of New Star GP.

New Star GP is the retro arcade Formula-style racing game that not only pays homage to games like Virtua Racing but brings a simplified, bite-sized take on the Formula 1 sim. The term “sim” is used loosely as the game play itself leans extremely towards an arcade experience but adds on sim-like pieces such as fuel and tire management. The pit stops make the player engage in the refueling process and give you the option of switching out tires with a different compound to strategize future pit stops. There is also a crew to manage. If one doesn't pay attention to the team, they may become unhappy and it will affect their work. If that wasn't enough, there is varying weather to play through, so a set of wet tires are available to you when things get damp. You’ll need to stay aware of your current situation as well as that racing line. If you mess up a turn or crash out, there is always the handy rewind feature that allows you to back the last few seconds up and try it again.

The game features a career mode and an arcade championship. The arcade championship allows you to pick vehicles that range in design from the 1980s to current day as well as choose your team and then sets you off on a series of races that take you on an international tour. Championship mode does away with some of the sim aspects such as fuel and tire management and allows you to focus purely on the racing. The career mode runs you through several seasons and generations of tracks and Formula racing vehicles. In career mode, for each location, you can choose from the main GP, an elimination race, and a timed checkpoint run. Each event awards you cash for car upgrades and team staff, which you will need in order to remain competitive with the AI drivers. Managing the team members is a big part of your overall strategy.  By spending time with them or giving them bonuses, perks like faster refueling time and more money from winning events become available.

When it comes to managing the car, you can use your money to develop your vehicle in career mode just like a sim racer. You can pay to upgrade things like aero, engine, suspension, transmission, and braking. Interestingly enough, you can also license tech from other manufacturers (just like a real racing team) but the performance bonuses are not permanent when leasing. On track, the car handles very arcade-like with a few sim foibles like tire wear and wet or hot roads that can affect handling. The sense of speed is there, but it won’t feel as real as F1 20xx or Gran Turismo, which is fine for the presentation style. In the hot seat, you can choose several different camera views. If you are feeling “simmy,” you can opt for the driver cockpit view or you can flip to a chase cam, near-helicopter overhead view or a drone-like chase cam. New Star GP offers you the ability to see the optimal drive line just like other race games to help keep you on track, and in addition to the aforementioned rewind, you also have a boost button for an ERS-like burst of speed to aid in passing. The in-race AI is very aggressive and occasionally intelligent and at other times overly aggressive and psychotic. They will do their best to defend their position when threatened with an overtake, but their maneuvers at times would warrant a serious investigation from the FIA race stewards. Luckily, you won't have to suffer the abuse for long as races are only 4 to 6 laps in length depending on the track. While there are 10 teams in total, there is only one racer per team instead of the customary two, which cuts down on the mid-race slog of having to wind through AI drivers.

Having talked about how much this is a Formula 1 type game, it is very much that but without the licensing and branding. Racing team and part company names are symbolic to real teams and manufacturers such as Bellini engines being an analog for Ferrar or Parbo brakes being a stand-in for Brembo. Drivers also bear some resemblance to historic racers of old such as Ayrton Serafine and Niki Laube being present in the ‘80s decade. These are fun little Easter eggs to spot during play through and at times had me wondering “who's that driver-mon?!”

Graphically, the game is very Virtua Racing with smoother textures and more details. Shadows of overhead planes and flocks of birds fly by in realistic fashion. When bad weather rolls in, the sky becomes cloudy and gray. Rain pours down in a torrent, pooling up mini lakes on the track whilst strikes of lightning illuminate the darkened skies. The complete visual package is a total   retro feel with 2020ish pizazz. Audiowise, the cars sound like high-revving, low-displacement beasts as one would expect from a Formula type racing game. Other sound effects such as overhead airplanes and the pitter patter of rain all feel organic and real.The music is purposely synth-heavy and has a 16-bit vibe to add to the nostalgia factor.

Overall, New Star GP is a fun, bite-sized racing game that avoids some of the overly in-depth portions of the F1 series and skims the surface of team and car management to give you some control, all while keeping it simple and enjoyable. If you are someone like me who really likes the idea of multi-season sim racing but tires of the constant car development, juggling of team staff and 60-lap races, New Star GP is the game for you. It’s easy to pick up and put down, especially with the much shorter races it features, and it doesn’t require a wheel and racing seat to get the most out of it. New Star GP is an unconventional mix of arcade and sim and even though that may turn off some of the more dedicated sim geeks, I highly recommend it for casual race fans. That said hardcore racers should still find plenty to like here with its upgrade system and fuel/tire management scheme during the career mode. New Star GP is not a replacement for a Formula 1 game and it's not exactly a Sega arcade hardware racer, but it is a damn fine tribute. Is that your quarter?