NOTE: This blog post mostly pertains to the arcade version of "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge." That is the basis of my review of this game.
SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge (Arcade Version)
The game of the hour is "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge," or its full name of "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge Passiona Rossa." Get to know it in this blog post.
^ from: on.aol.com (best I could find) - What adventures await you when you strap into a Ferrari F355 Challenge car? Find out in "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge!"
SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge has you racing only the Ferrari F355 Challenge Car, and you will be racing it across a number of international courses. The F355 Challenge Car is a racing-spec version of the Ferrari F355 F1. It was the of-the-moment Ferrari at the time. The Ferrari F355 Challenge was NOT the first Ferrari Challenge car, as the F355 Challenge replaced the 348 Challenge cars. This car would later be replaced by one of my personal favorite cars- the Ferrari 360 Modena in the late 1990s. The Ferrari F355 Challenge Car is a proper race car, and Ferrari Challenge is a proper series. It is no kind of feeder series to anything. Ferrari Challenge dates back to 1993.
SEGA had a reputation of exciting and outrageous racing action with its history and portfolio of racing titles. So to see SEGA come up with a simulation racer such as F355 Challenge was rather unusual and against the grain. It didn't mean, however, that SEGA lost their touch in trying to make a quality racing game. F355 Challenge is as quality of a racing game as almost any other in the long history of SEGA racing games. They were one of the innovators in helping shape the future of racing games. Since I am focusing on the arcade version for this blog post, this game could either be played as a single unit or in a twin unit. The arcade version of "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge" was one of few racing games (let alone arcade racing games) to have different manual transmission options as well as a clutch pedal. You could choose to race with the paddle shifters or use the traditional gear lever.
Ferrari F355 Challenge would be available for home granted you have a Sega Dreamcast or a PlayStation 2. This game would garner a sequel in 2000 called "Ferrari F355 Challenge 2: International Circuit Edition." This sequel gives you eight tracks to race on as opposed to the six in the first game. Home versions of "Ferrari F355 Challenge" featured courses not in the first title such as Atlanta Motor Speedway, Laguna Seca, Nürburgring, and Fiorano. Atlanta Motor Speedway replaces Motegi Superspeedway as the oval course in the home versions.
What Makes the Arcade Version Special?Why am I focusing on the arcade version, and why am I specifying the Arcade version? To me, I remember when I played this arcade game at Baybrook Mall in Webster, TX, USA long ago. This game still compels me because it offered one of the most amazing racing experiences I have ever experienced in my vast racing game experience. For one thing, if you played the single unit version of this game (which I did), you were treated to a three-screen experience. This game awakens you as a racer. You used the center screen to try to see what is ahead of you. The left and right screens are your mirrors. Also, this game is LOUD! You hear the full ferocity of your car as you take on this game's courses. In other words, you feel a connection to your car and to the racing that you do that is unlike almost any other arcade racing game. "SEGA Super GT/SCUD Race" is my all-time favorite arcade racing game, but "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge" offers perhaps the greatest racing experience anyone can ever experience. Maybe the only thing that would have made it even more intense is if this game had some kind of Force Feedback or something. But considering this was a game from 1999 or so, I don't know if this technology was really available for arcade racing/driving games at the time of this game.
Playing the Arcade Version.I mentioned earlier that SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge was a much different racing game experience than any almost any other arcade racing game. You have your standard set of options regarding automatic or manual transmission. Manual transmission is done either by the paddle shifters or the traditional gear lever. You can actually choose which transmission setup you want to use prior to racing a course.
Cars.All you race is the Ferrari F355 Challenge Car. All you are racing against are Ferrari F355 Challenge cars. All of the racing comes down to driving skill instead of trying to have the most capable car. There are three different transmission modes allowing and disallowing certain driver aids. The driving aids include Stability Control (keeps the car stable while driving), Traction Control (limits spins in corners), Anti-Lock Brakes (prevents brakes from locking up when brake is applied), and Intelligent Brake System (automatic braking into corners). You may then select to take on a Training Mode (get cues and advice on how to race properly), a Driving Mode (race any track alone to test your driving skill or practice a course), and a full-on Race Mode (a race against you and seven other racers).
Tracks.While the game features Ferrari Challenge action, this game does not follow any realistic schedule or set of races from Ferrari Challenge. Home versions have other tracks, but these are the six courses in the Arcade version of SEGA F355 Challenge:
• Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway - race this non-traditional oval in Japan.
• Suzuka Short - race the East course of Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
• Monza - the legendary, long-running, long-standing Italian high-speed battleground since the 1920s.
• Sugo - a technical course in Japan.
• Suzuka Circuit - Japan's most formidable Grand Prix racing challenge.
• Long Beach - this is the legendary American street course 24.2 miles (approx. 39 km) south southeast of Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Each track should provide plenty of challenge for you as you try to win at each track. Since this covers the three international regions with at least one venue, this is a true world tour of racing.
Action.Whatever action you take part in depends on the mode you select.
Use this mode to get accustomed to the handling and driving dynamics of this game. You even get to learn how to drive the courses in the game. I would recommend this mode to beginners.
This mode is more like a mode to practice driving a certain course. Unlike Training, you don't have all the different cues to learn to race a certain course.
Compete in a full-on race set to a certain number of laps. Make sure to reach the checkpoints in time for your race to be extended. The game is over either when you complete the race or time has expired.
No matter which mode you select, you will need to learn how to properly control your car and how to properly race. Remember- "Ferrari F355 Challenge" is a simulation racing game. So any tactics to take out your opposition in most arcade racing games will result in you losing speed or getting yourself into trouble. Proper racing technique will help see you through in each of the game's races and help you land the fastest lap times.
Final thoughts coming up. Get ready.
Ferrari F355 Challenge: Final Thoughts
What makes Ferrari F355 Challenge great is also what makes it not so great to most casual racing game fans. Having focused on the arcade version in this blog post, its downfall is that there will be people who may think it is overly difficult because the racing experience is not like any traditional arcade racing game. What makes "Ferrari F355 Challenge" great is its amazing simulation racing dynamics and pure racing feel. This game offers a level of immersion that few arcade racers can match or better. Everything from the driving dynamics to the loud engine roar and the three-screen setup (on single units) make this game a must play at the arcades. Some people even wish they had a three-monitor setup for almost any racing game. Even most hardcore sim racing types would vastly respect the level of challenge and intrigue this game has to offer. Offering different driving modes and options helped add to the appeal of "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge."
There are two weaknesses to this game in my view. Some people would probably complain this game could be a bit more realistic if it had a damage model (or does it have one?), some weather effects, or anything like that. I think the home versions have a weather system. The weakest element to me about this game is the poor rock music soundtrack to this game. Then again, you're not playing "Ferrari F355 Challenge" to enjoy the music. The music is very tolerable- just not good or enjoyable. Maybe the weakest element to a lot of other people is the fact that since this is an arcade racing game, people expect arcade-style thrills rather than a realistic and borderline unforgiving simulation racing game. Those who appreciate the realistic challenge of SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge will be greeted to a game that offers incredible racing and driving unlike any other racing game out there. I may even go a step further and say this was a game ahead of its time with its level of simulation and realism. What you could probably find today being done better with PC simulation racing games was done on an average arcade unit with "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge."
"SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge" isn't for everyone, but it is a sensational game offering the most realistic racing experience of any SEGA racing game or almost any other racing game. At least this game was a much better and more engaging simulation racing experience from SEGA than the lackluster SEGA GT released later.
Video Preview.Get ready for a demonstration of the arcade version of "SEGA Ferrari F355 Challenge." Here is a video for you:
^ "HD - Ferrari F355 Challenge Simulation Training (Arcade)"
I usually don't offer two videos of the same game, but here is another one demonstrating "Ferrari F355 Challenge":
^ "SEGA F355 Challenge2"
That's all for this one. I hope you enjoyed this post.
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