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Based on Atari Games' 1998 arcade game of the same name, California Speed has you racing across eleven courses inspired by the Golden State. Players can initially choose from ten vehicles (including a golf cart!) divided into three classes: light, heavy or sport. While there are three different game modes available, each involves trying to reach the finish line as quickly as possible.
Practice lets you drive for 999 seconds to get a feel for a particular track's layout, while Single Race has you challenging up to seven computer opponents on your choice of courses. As with most arcade racing games, checkpoints must be crossed within the allotted time in order to keep playing. The heart of the game is the Series mode, forcing you to race each track three separate times in four assorted competitions: Light, Heavy, Sport and the California Cup. A fifth competition, State, only requires you to race each course once.
Points are awarded for the top three finishers of each race, and the player with the highest total after the series ends is considered the winner. Win each Series competition and you'll also unlock the five hidden courses! Besides keeping an eye on their opponents, players will have to avoid oncoming traffic and endure different weather conditions as they progress from race to race. The eleven featured courses are: Central Valley, Highway 1, Los Angeles, Mojave, Monterey, Mount Shasta, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley and Yosemite.
Courses differ from those found in typical racing games in that you'll drive through "fantasy" elements such as a shopping mall, inside a computer or even atop a roller coaster! California Speed supports the Controller Pak to save best times as well as the Rumble Pak for vibration feedback while driving. Players can also race on mirror tracks, set the amount of traffic (light, normal, heavy or none), adjust the number of computer drones (from one to seven), switch between multiple camera views, and race a friend on a horizontally-split screen. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide