F355 Challenge (F355 チャレンジ) is an arcade racing game developed by Sega AM2 for Sega NAOMI Multiboard hardware. It is the brainchild of AM2 head and Ferrari enthusiast Yu Suzuki, and was originally released in 1999.
Like previous Sega AM2 racing games, F355 Challenge is based on a real event endorsed and run by supercar manufacturer, Ferrari - the "Ferrari Challenge". Here, Ferrari owners come together and race across various race tracks across North America. At the time, they were likely running an "F355 Challenge" for the Ferrari F355 as the car was still current, however this changes year-on-year (at the time of writing for example, they are running F430 and 458 challenges, though the basic goals are the same).
As the name suggests, the game has you race in a Ferrari F355 against other cars around a series of tracks. No other cars feature within the game though there are a number of options allowing you to modify your car to your liking. The player races through a dozen tracks based on real locations aiming to finish first. Up to two players are supported on-screen at once.
The arcade F355 Challenge is also notable for its deluxe configuration, which adds an extra two screens on either side of the "main" monitor. This allows players to look left or right and see more of the playfield. It is impossible in F355 Challenge to change the view - games are always played as if the player was sitting in the driver's seat.
F355 Challenge was conceived by Yu Suzuki, who had been working for over ten years trying to deliver a true driving experience to video game consumers. The game can be seen as a spiritual sequel to the 1986 release of OutRun, however was designed with a completely different style of gameplay in mind. Whereas OutRun (and many other Sega arcade racers) aim for a unrealistic and fast-paced arcade experience, F355 Challenge aims to be as realistic as possible, giving the user the experience of driving a Ferrari without actually owning one.
It is rumoured that Yu Suzuki's personal Ferrari F355 was used as a basis for many of the features included in this game.
Less than a year after its arcade debut, F355 Challenge was ported to the Sega Dreamcast, in the west sporting a subtitle, F355 Challenge: Passione Rossa. Acclaim distributed the game in North America and Europe instead of Sega itself. Following the demise of the Dreamcast, it was also brought to the PlayStation 2, this time as Ferrari F355 Challenge. The home ports feature a number of options not seen in the arcade original, most notably five unlockable tracks.
While the use of NAOMI hardware makes the Dreamcast port almost identical to the arcade game, the PlayStation 2 version makes several noticeable cutbacks, rendering in a lower screen resolution and sporting a simpler lighting model.
The Developers with to Thank the Following: City of Long Beach, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Inc., Autodromo Nazionale Monza S.I.S.A., SpA, Twinring Motegi, Sportsland Sugo, Suzuka Circutland, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Laguna Seca Race Way (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, Nürburgring GmbH, Sepang International Circuit SDN. BHD. and Ferrari Idea S.A.
The Developers wish to Thank the Following: City of Long Beach, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Inc., Autodromo Nazionale Monza S.I.S.A., SpA, Twinring Motegi, Sportsland Sugo, Suzuka Circutland, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Laguna Seca Raceway (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, Nürburgring GmbH, Sepang International Circuit SDN BHD and Ferrari