A forgotten racer appears on Game Boy Works
Arriving just a few months before Nintendo's four-player F-1 Race, SunSoft Grand Prix was doomed to obscurity.
First, I apologize for getting some details about Formula One racing wrong in this video. I did my research, but unfortunately I am allergic to sports and had trouble writing an accurate script amidst all the sneezing and runny eyes.
Secondly, there's pretty much zero information about this game out on the internet. I looked up both "SunSoft Grand Prix" and its Japanese title, "F1 Boy," and neither term yielded a single retrospective, review, or analysis. Even GameFAQs, where someone will eventually write a review for every game imaginable, had nothing. I can only assume this game ended up being lost to history due to its close proximity to HAL and Nintendo's far more impressive take on Formula One, F-1 Race (which will appear early on in Game Boy Works 1991). That launched a mere four months after this appeared as F1 Boy in Japan, and a full year and a half before it came to Europe. Naturally, it didn't even come to the U.S. at all. Because, sad as it may be, my cluelessness about Formula One is one of the most American things about me.
Despite my lack of interest in the subject matter of this game, there's no denying it's quite well-made. Developer Lenar included some interesting details, and there are enough options in terms of difficulty, race duration, and car configurations to make for a game that's far more substantial than the last racer we saw in this style (the deeply mediocre Dead Heat Scramble). There's no avoiding the fact that it suffers from the same limitations as all racing games — my 30-lap playthrough on medium difficulty saw me pull into the lead on lap five or six, and the 10 minutes that followed were literally just me taking the same curves with zero chance of ever losing my lead — but hey, at least there's no rubberband A.I.
The good news is that, with this out of the way, there are some pretty interesting games ahead for Game Boy Works. Please look forward to them.
One thing I didn't address in the video is the presence of Ocean's logo on the front of the box, and Infogrames's name on the back. SunSoft had no involvement with F1 Boy in Japan, and they definitely appear to have published it in Europe. I don't know what role Ocean and Infogrames played, but if I were to guess, I'd say they handled distribution. A lovely team effort, even if someone needs a stern talking-to for the ugly box-within-a-box packaging design…