The Odd Case of Monaco Online

We recently featured the Dreamcast's stable of Formula 1 racers here at the 'Yard, and it was concluded that F1 World Grand Prix 2 is probably the best recreation of the motor sport to be found on Sega's final system. However, there was a glaring omission from that list, and only now have I managed to acquire the absent title for analysis. What is this mysterious and largely unknown F1 racer? Why, Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix 2 Online of course! Is that the worst name ever for a racing game? It's definitely a contender in my humble opinion - try saying that to an automated cheats line after a few pints and you'll see why. Do cheats lines even exist anymore? Another mystery that needs to be solved...but first, lets get back on track (pun intended). The original Racing Simulation was released quite early in the Dreamcast's life and was one of the first games I played, as it was bundled as part of the Dream On Volume 1 demo disk. A fairly playable and nice-looking F1 game, Racing Simulation is a game that seems to have suffered something of an identity crisis - just looking at the box, manual and the GD-rom you can see that it has multiple names: it's either Monaco Grand Prix: Racing Simulation; Racing Simulation 2: Monaco Grand Prix...or a weird bastardisation of the two:
Did they forget the '2' on the cover?
These odd naming conventions aside, Monaco is pretty playable and has quite a lot going on with it's arcade and simulation modes as well as a 'retro' option where you can race vehicles of yesteryear. It appears that Ubisoft weren't done with the Racing Simulation engine though as they went on to develop F1 Racing Championship (published by Video System, of F1 World Grand Prix fame) which is essentially the same game but with an official license. Quite why Ubisoft didn't publish F1 Racing Championship themselves, I'm not really sure...but to allow their main F1 developing rivals to publish their game is just plain odd. The story gets even stranger though, as in 2001 Ubisoft released the game again under the mouthful moniker mentioned in the opening paragraph: Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix 2 Online. Talk about flogging a dead horse.

As you can probably tell from the name, Online is basically the first game (which is actually a sequel itself...damn this is confusing) but with added online functionality allowing players to race each other on any of the real-world circuits. As far as I can tell, Online was only ever released as a PAL title - which is quite strange in itself, seeing as we only got 33k modems stuck to our Dreamcasts - and upon playing it myself, I quickly deduced that it is indeed pretty much identical to the first (second) game but with minor graphical changes (the clouds in the sky are more pronounced in Online, for example - see below) and a modified front end, with the added online lobby options plonked in. Speaking of the front end, Online retains the decidedly 'old school' art style that the offline game used, complete with awkwardly-proportioned humanoids and background graphics that look like they were copied from a GeoCities ghost site last updated in 1996.

Below are a selection of images I grabbed from the two games; the shots on the right are from Online, the ones on the left from Racing Simulation 2 (or whatever it's called). As stated, details on the Online game are very scant but I managed to discover that the servers were finally switched off in 2003. It would have been cool to know if the game could support a full grid of 22 cars all being driven by real gamers...but if Online even sold that many copies, I'd be very surprised.
Super Mario makes a cameo in both games if you drive badly.
Did you ever manage to play Monaco If so, how was it? Let us know in the comments.


pcwzrd13 said...

Never heard of this one! Well the online version anyway. It seems to be fairly rare as there's only one on eBay at the moment and it's $36 + shipping.

Tom Charnock said...

Yes, as I said - information is really scarce online. I managed to find a few really old forum threads, but other than looking at the dates in the back of the manual, I can't really find anything else on this game!

RJAY63 said...

Hi Tom, if you are interested there's a post I made on Monaco Online here:

Tom Charnock said...

Wait...they didn't even know it had been released?!?!?!?!? That's insane!!! Thanks for the heads up man!