Formula One racing games have evolved dramatically over the years. It’s now a very popular genre, which has a proud and illustrious tradition that dates back more than four decades.
As some may remember, the ‘70s witnessed a number of firsts in terms of the whole console gaming industry. Games Radar highlights the likes of Magnavox Odyssey, which was the first gaming console ever and was one of the primary modes of entertainment of that era. Who can forget the Ataris, the Pong games, and other archaic gaming platforms that were also prevalent during that time.
Basically, the aforementioned decade saw various game developers’ incorporation of arcade technology and how they transitioned it into handheld and home ventures. F1 racing games, for their part, also followed the same path.
In 1976, there were titles such as Formula One Championship, F1. This old school arcade machine was the first one to integrate a Formula One racecar into games. Despite its rather primitive state, it featured a film recorded racetrack that’s projected on screen. F1 was also the first legitimate arcade racer on the Atari console. In 1979, Monaco GP followed suit and went up a notch by including a simple day/night cycle. Slowly but surely, Formula One racing games were adapted for various consoles.
The next decade saw popular games like Pole Position and Pit Stop. Of course the ‘80s still had other console favourites such as Formula One on ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC, as well as Super Monaco GP for the Sega Mega Drive. As 16-bit gaming consoles were becoming the “in thing” in the middle and latter part of the 1980s, F1 racing titles added certain visual elements into the equation. This decade introduced Formula One titles like RC Pro-Am, Final Lap, and Winning Run.
The ‘90s were not just about grunge music and coming-of-age movies, it was also the time when landmark Formula One racing franchises were introduced to the gaming market. From the more gimmicky racing games such as F-Zero and Super Mario Kart, to Virtual Racing and Formula One Grand Prix, to Gran Turismo, the list became more diverse and to a certain extent futuristic. Obviously, there were still age-old classics like Pole Position and Grand Prix Manager to appease the masses.
Since the popularity and marketability of racing games became apparent, the next decade followed the same footsteps, which in a way continued the legacy. Graphics become clearer, more lifelike, and the actual gameplay was close to real life as well, as reflected by EA’s first venture into Formula One racing, F1 2000. In addition, developers took advantage of the Internet as a tool to create a network of virtual racers – and even incorporate specific aesthetics to heighten the experience.
This current era underlined the significance of online game modes. There’s again the Gran Turismo franchise, which fully incorporated Formula One racecars to its roster. Also, according to this article on James Allen On F1, virtual and augmented reality entered the picture. Furthermore, many Internet based game developers included state-of-the-art racing themes into the equation. There’s an electronic slots game on Spin Genie that has futuristic automobile elements called Light Racers which represents the latest take on motorsport games.
All in all, Formula One racing games have come a long way from being initially developed for old school arcades. Nowadays, they’re played in households on famous consoles, and have entered the worldwide web through a bevy of online games. It proves that F1 racing cars have a definite place not just on the racetrack, but also in the virtual world.