January 7, 2001
Ferrari F355 Challenge is a port of Sega's arcade game which was released late last year. It was developed by Yu Suzuki at AM2 and published in Japan by Sega. However Acclaim had secured the rights to release games using the Ferrari name in America and Europe which meant that Sega could not release Ferrari F355 Challenge in these territories. While it was dicey for a while, Acclaim soon agreed to publish the title outside Japan on behalf of Sega. Here it is, the game that has been touted as the most accurate driving simulation ever.
When Yu Suzuki decided to make Ferrari F355 Challenge he wanted to make the most realistic driving game ever, and what better car to use then the Ferrari F355. Don't be fooled, this is not a racing game like Daytona USA or Sega Rally 2, this is a serious driving game. The only perspective when driving is from inside the car. There are no external viewpoints while racing, which may come as a shock to some, but you don't sit on the roof when driving your car do you?
Fortunately for those of us who don't own a real Ferrari, which is pretty much everyone, Yu Suzuki has included a training mode where the tracks have a red line marked to show you the perfect racing line into the corners as well as sight and sound hints around the courses. The next step up from the training mode is the driving mode where the hints are removed and you can drive on the courses to improve your times. The Racing mode will put you on the track with several other Ferrari F355's to give you racing experience. Following this you can enter the Championship mode where you race on the six tracks over the entire season. Just like in real life the computer controlled drivers are extremely intelligent and one slip up can see you loose several places in a matter of seconds.
As with most good racing simulations Ferrari F355 Challenge allows you to tweak the car to your own desire. Everything from the wing angles to the tyres and cambers can be modifies. But in all honestly the initial setup will be more then adequate for most people. It is also possible to paint the cars to your own individual tastes. The cars (supposedly) handle exactly as you would expect it too, and Ferrari would have certainly tested this game to check the accuracy.
Ferrari F355 Challenge is one of the most graphically impressive driving games ever. The arcade game used four Naomi boards to power the graphics onto the three monitors in the sit-down cabinet. The home conversion, only having to display the game on one screen, is arcade perfect. The cars (of which you can only choose the Ferrari F355) are wonderfully detailed and the six tracks are probably the most detailed ever seen in a video game with some amazingly detailed ground and track textures. Everything runs at a silky smooth 60fps with no slowdown at all. Unfortunately, in order to run the split screen 2-player mode without slowdown AM2 had to sacrifice some of the smaller details in the scenery but they are negligible.
Ferrari F355 Challenge is not for the casual racing game fan. This game takes days, if not weeks, to master but for most people that will become the biggest enjoyment from Sega's title. The detail is superb and while the choice of only one car may seem disappointing it's probably the best car in the world. For most people this will be as close to the real thing as you will ever get.