Arcade racers are having another moment, led by an authentic take on 90s F1

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For a short while I had a very specific obsession with early 90s F1 console games – partly because it’s often acknowledged as a golden age of the sport and partly because there were so damn many of the things at the time. Super Monaco GP! Satoru Nakajima F1 Hero! Super F1 Circus! Nigel Mansell’s World Championship! Of the vast glut of them that crowded shelves back then it was always Exhaust Heat that was something of a favourite, its Mode 7-powered take on the 1992 season surprisingly authentic (plus I’ll never forget the car journey home from a Slough shopping centre clutching the box in the back seat, the passing street lights occasionally illuminating the glorious airbrushed cover art).

It’s one of the first comparison points that comes to mind when playing Horizon Chase Turbo’s outstanding Ayrton Senna expansion. To call it an expansion is a bit of a disservice, really – this takes on the 1991 season with some authenticity, featuring recognisable tracks as well as recognisable takes on iconic liveries like Minardi’s black and yellow or the aquamarine blue of March, but it takes on Senna’s debut season at Toleman, his short but glorious tenure at Team Lotus as well as his breakout championship year in 1988. There is a lot of video game here, and the detail within is – to an old F1 head old enough to have been to Silverstone to see Senna in his 90s prime – absolute manna.

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