Review and release - prototypes of F355 Ferrari Dreamcast

Yu Suzuki returns to his first love with a flagship license: Ferrari ! If you want to fly an F355 Challenge , the Dreamcast version is for you.

F355 Challenge

If I tell you Super Hang-On, Out Run, Daytona USA or even Virtua Racing, you should answer me with SEGA, but also AM2 and of course Yu Suzuki. Passionate about motorsport, Ferrari lover Yu Suzuki and his department have left their mark on the arcade world forever. At the end of the 90s, the Ferrari of the moment was the mythical F355. Replacing the much criticized 348, the F355 is neither more nor less than the corrected version of the previous model. It is also the first road-driven Ferrari to adopt an F1 sequential gearbox, a technology inherited directly from Formula 1 driven by Michael Schumacher himself.

F355 Challenge Dreamcast Cover Asset.jpg
F355 Challenge GD-R Dreamcast Driver.jpg

A fan of the prancing horse brand, Yu Suzuki decided to pay tribute to this model. Having already been in contact with Ferrari in the past, the contract therefore had been validated. You should know that in the 90s, the use of automobile licenses were not numerous, let alone from Ferrari (which was not distributed to just anyone). The game will therefore be called F355 Challenge, as the most successful model released; a specific model dedicated to single-brand competition.

Deluxe Version

F355 LOGO.jpg
Sega F355 Challenge Arcade Deluxe.jpg

It was in 1999 that arcade fans could admire the monstrous "Deluxe" terminals made up of 3 CRT screens. The player takes position in a large cockpit taking advantage of the large speakers which perfectly transcribe the sound of the V8 Ferrari. To make the game work, it required no less than 4 Naomi cards working together. The challenge was therefore taken up to release F355 Challenge on Dreamcast, but that was without counting on the talent of the AM2 studio and its leader Yu Suzuki.

On Dreamcast, we find all the magic of the arcade, but this time on your simple TV screen. The introduction near the Ferrari factory, and the Gran Turismo-style replay are a real tribute to the prancing horse.

Simulation Arcade

F355 Challenge offers decidedly arcade-oriented content. No less than 11 international circuits are at your disposal. Whether in Arcade, Championship, Versus or online mode, you will initially find Twinring Motegi, Suzuka Short, Sugo, Monza, Suzuka Long and Long Beach. Thereafter, you will unlock Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Nurburgring, Sepang, Laguna Seca and Fiorano.

A substantial number of races, which will require many more hours of play than you might think. In everyone's mind, an arcade game is fun, fun and more fun. We remember the 3 tracks of Virtua Racing or even Daytona USA, which after 30 min were a real amusement park. Well in F355 Challenge, this is absolutely not the case. It's a separate genre, a simulation in the arcade world. Yu Suzuki has refined his game so much that we can, without blushing, compare the physics of F355 Challenge to any current simulation. You will be able to fine-tune your engine settings, aerodynamics, weight distribution and much more. If you want to win, forget the automatic transmission! It will be necessary to use the gear carefully to prevent your vehicle from losing time in recovery, but also in sliding. You will also have driving aids by default. Anti-skid, ESP, ABS, and assisted braking. In addition, there is the opportunity to learn each track with a common thread and improve your times before facing the eight competitors.

F355 Challenge Dreamcast beta Replay.jpg
F355 Challenge beta dreamcast replay.jpg
Dc F355 Challenge GD-R replay mode.jpg

The only black mark of the game (and not to a major demerit), the lack of sensations of speed. The animation is certainly fluid but we do not feel the speed, so that at the start of a turn, it is sometimes difficult to gauge correctly. The joystick and its analog triggers are perfectly fine tuned, though the direction pad remains yet to be mastered. It is too steep and the analog stick is sometimes a little awkward. Technically, although suffering from a slight aliasing, the game is very faithful to the arcade model and has nothing to be ashamed of in 2022. Admittedly, the tracks lack a little with the visual, but we recognize each site perfectly and apart from the Monza circuit which has been modified, the benchmarks under braking remain the same.

F355 Challenge, published by Acclaim on Dreamcast, remains a benchmark in this field even 20 years later. The sound of the V8 engine is still just as striking, and it's a real pleasure to decelerate around a chicane. If you are a fan of the prancing horse brand and of the works of AM2 and Yu Suzuki, then Ferrari F355 Challenge is made for you!

Review carried out and written by Mick , You can follow him on his blog " https://www.blog-acteur.com/ "

F355 Challenge prototype for Dreamcast Ferrari logo.jpg
Dreamcast F355 Challenge prototype.jpg

The specifics of the build:

This analysis  was made on the prototype of F355 Challenge: Passione Rossa dating from May 1, 2001. It's an old one out of my releases. It was never examined properly. Now, it's time. I also took the opportunity to perform a redump with the BBA . The beta is a demo; a lot of things are locked. It could be an E3 GD-R based on the build release date.

When starting the game, the first window to appear should be the information about the memory card, where it says the number of blocks needed to save, etc. This screen is not available. The save system is probably not implemented.

The scrolling order of the following 4 windows, before arriving at the presentation sequence of the game or at the title screen, is incorrect.

Scrolling order of the prototype:

(1) Copyright of F355 Ferrari - (2) Logo "ADX" (copyright) - (3) Logo of the publisher "Acclaim" - (4) Logo of Sega (animated)

Scrolling order of the final version:

(1) Logo of Sega (animated) - (2) Logo of the publisher "Acclaim" - (3) Logo  "MPEG Sofdec" and "ADX" (copyright) - (4) Copyright of F355 Ferrari

An inscription is missing during the animated Sega logo; it should be written " Presented by Sega " and not just Sega.

On this build, " MPEG Sofdec " does not appear  again.

F355 Challenge Dreamcast prototype ADX logo.jpg
F355 Challenge Passione Rossa prototype Sega logo.jpg
F355 Challenge prototype.jpg
  • At this point, the intro cutscene should start. In this prototype, the player will arrive directly to the title screen. The intro presentation in this one is completely different.

Prototype

F355 Challenge Passione Rossa Dreamcast prototype.jpg

Final

F355 Challenge Title Dreamcast.jpg
  • The intro scene will start after a short while, by not pressing START , like auto-demos in other games. This short film showing the garage of prestigious Italian cars begins with the previously mentioned windows (copyright etc.). In the final version, it's the same (also in auto-demo mode), except that the cinematic also appears before arriving at the title screen without, this time, the copyrights. During the replay, after the scene, the logo (Trademarks) "AM2" should appear at the bottom right. "PRESS START BUTTON" is no longer at the bottom of the screen.

  • Like the title screen, the menu window is represented differently (font, layout etc). The "Home Page", "Save Game" and "Load Game" options are not included in this demo. "Network Race" is referred to herein as "Network Play". The "Cable Versus Play" option seems new to this build. As it is locked, it might be necessary to hack the game to access it. "Internet Ranking" is also specific to the prototype. There is no background music. Only "Arcade" and " Versus Play" are selectable.

Dreamcast prototype F355 Challenge.jpg
F355 Challenge Dreamcast prototype Main Menu.jpg
Final Version Dreamcast F355 Ferrari Menu.jpg
prototype Dreamcast F355 Ferrari.jpg
Dreamcast prototype F355 Challenge Passione Rossa.jpg
  • Once you get to the race selection menu, the layout is slightly different. This prototype  seems to be directly linked to the Arcade version since the information for navigating in the menu is explained not by the A button (validate) and the directional pad (choose), but by the steering wheel and the accelerator pedal. It is the same in the other menus that follow.

F355 Ferrari Dreamcast prototype Select Course.jpg
F355 Challenge Dc Select Course.jpg
  • When the game asks to choose between "Novice" and "Intermediate", it says "Turn ON/OFF white driving". There should be nothing written.

  • The information explaining the different racing modes "Training", "Driving" and "Race" is written in lowercase instead of uppercase.

  • "NOW LOADING" isn't mentioned during the loadings, but instead "Good luck".

Dreamcast F355 Challenge prototype in game.jpg
  • The in-game pause menu is basic, work hasn't been put into it (including functionality.

  • At the top left of the screen, during a game, the color of the elapsed time and lap time information is brighter.

  • Only the "IBS" assistance, among the four, can be deactivated. In the final version, a small red bar acting as a cursor is above these assistances. We move it from  right to left with button B; then Y allows you to activate or deactivate the selected assistance. In this demo, the red bar is not present, Y simply enables or disables "IBS". Some game modes do not allow to modify this data; it would be possible in the final.

Sega F355 Challenge prototype.jpg
  • In "Versus Play", after choosing the race, the difficulty level selection screen is for 1 player only. A particular screen should appear for 2 players. Player 1 will choose for both players; normally player 2 can also choose their level of difficulty. The prototype directly launches the multiplayer game without going through the "VS.RACE" or "TIME AG RACE" game mode selection screen, nor asking whether to start the game or tune the car at the screen following it.

F355 CHALLENGE (May 01, 2000 prototype).jpg

You can download F355 Challenge Dreamcast build below

Old release (BBA redump): F355 Challenge (May 01, 2000 prototype)

The other prototypes:

FERRARI 355 DEMO (Aug 04.2000 prototype).jpg
  • As for the previous demo, the memory card information window is not present.
  • On the title screen, it says Demo Version; this message repeats  in the main menu. Only "Arcade" and "Versus Play" mode   are  playable.
  • The number of laps in races is limited to 2.
F355 Challenge Demo Version Main Menu (prototype Dreamcast).jpg
F355 Challenge Demo Version Dreamcast prototype.jpg
F355 CHALLENGE (Aug 04, 2000 prototype).jpg
F355 CHALLENGE (Aug 21, 2000 prototype).jpg
F355 CHALLENGE (Aug 21, 2000 prototype (different)).jpg