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150 SNES games reviewed #21: Exhaust Heat (aka F1 ROC: Race of Champions)

Exhaust Heat (released in North America as F1 ROC: Race of Champions) was a racing game developed by Seta for the SNES. It was released in 1992.

The game had to work against the odds to get noticed having come after Nintendo’s own F-Zero. F-Zero had pulled out all of the Mode 7 graphical tricks that it could and had an excellent sound track and even more importantly a great sense of speed. At first, in comparison to this, Exhaust Heat seemed to be seen by most people as something of a let-down.

Initially you will notice the graphics are not up to the standards of F-Zero and the game doesn’t feel anywhere near as fast. Once you’ve progressed and completed a few races in the career mode though things start to change. You earn cash, and this gives you access to more powerful engines, better tyres, etc. You soon learn that with the right modifications and settings your car can move like greased lightning.

The career mode in this game is excellent. It’s less of a flash and bang racer which you will feel happy to spend five minutes on now and then, and more of an all-out consuming racer. This is its big strength. This is not to say that the game is boring because it is far from it. To compare this to a game I previously reviewed ESPN Speed World, in Speed World the minimum number of laps you can do is 10, and quite frankly after a race or two, 10 laps begins to feel like an eternity in some kind of realm of complete boredom. Here in Exhaust Heat my first proper race was three laps – three laps which actually felt exciting. In the first race I managed to come fourth despite the fact I thought I had put in a really good effort. For a second this was annoying as I didn’t really see how I could have done much better but then I remembered another game I had played not long ago and that was MotoGP 13 on the PlayStation Vita. In that game it had taken a fair amount of time for me to get into the game and some effort before getting a first place. This is the kind of game Exhaust Heat is, you need to put in the effort but sometimes you have to slog along a little, working till you can afford the upgrades, and till you can learn every curve of the track. It’s not an easy game ,but it is a very rewarding one.

If I was going to take a quick look at this game’s negative points I would have to say that it looks very plain. There is  little variety in the backgrounds and the cars themselves are small and lacking in detail. Add to this the fact there is no in-game music , which is a shame as the music featured in the game in other places is brilliant. The Grand Prix mode does not just last for one season, you seem to be able to carry on as long as you want.

One thing to bear in mind is that the game hasn’t aged particularly well. It’s still playable but it now looks very much like a dog. I would advise you not to let this get to you though, if you can get past the surface layer to the real depth of the game I think you’re in for a treat.

I would give this game a nice, solid seven out of 10. There are copies of this game cartridge only online for as little as £5 including postage. You can get fully boxed copies for under £15 if you want to go full on. At £5 anyone who has a SNES should seriously consider giving this game a bash.