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Formula One: Built to Win is a racing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that is centered around its career mode. Once the player enters in his or her user name (one letter initial for given name and a family name), the player has to start out driving a Mini Cooper (from the British Motor Corporation) without an international racing license. From there, he or she must earn the rankings needed to get better performing vehicles and automobile parts. These cars consist of the Vector W2 (from Vector Motors) and the Ferrari F40 (from Ferrari); most of the game is driven with these vehicles. Races start out as single-lap events but become double-lap events as the player starts racing against more experienced competition in places like Las Vegas, Nevada and Hawaii. Formula One: Built to Win is also considered to be one of the first racing games with races that contain multiple stages. With gameplay similar to Rad Racer and Pole Position, the driver races towards the back of the screen. Drivers must also be prepared to negotiate their way through civilian traffic. Despite the American setting (which was unusual for a game made by a Japanese-based company at the time), Vector Motors is the only American name brand for automobiles used in the game. The more familiar name brands of Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Pontiac (which also have dominant legacies in the automobile racing world) are absent because of licensing issues. European name brand vehicles are dominant (the British Motor Corporation is considered to be a British company while Ferrari is an Italian company). The names of the opponents are chosen partially at random; they can also vary because of the ranking level of the course and the type of vehicle used. Like in Rad Racer, the player can supercharge his or her automobile to go up to 255 miles per hour (410 km/h). While it is not possible to reach this limit with the Mini Cooper or the Vector vehicle, the limit can be easily achieved with either a fully powered-up Ferrari or a fully powered-up Formula One vehicle. Realism is affected by this because it was considered to be more plausible for a Formula One car in the early 1990s to go up to 255 kilometres per hour (158 mph) as opposed to 255 miles per hour.
Managing a racing career
The player starts in New York and must work his or her way to the West Coast. The last stop in the continental United States is considered to be Los Angeles; Hawaii is considered to be the final stop in the entire United States. All of tracks that make up the Formula One portion of the game are actual Formula One tracks from around the world. Elements from the 1990 and 1991 Formula One seasons have been used for this video game. Most major American racing competitions like the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 are excluded from the game due to lack of proper licensing. Even though the American South serves as the origin of stock car racing in America, tracks from the NASCAR Winston Cup are not included the game for that same reason. Because this game is based on the career of a race car driver who is trying to go from "Rags to Riches," the beginning of the game provides a slow and conservative period. Designing an unbeatable car from the parts that they purchased in parts shops helps improve the handling, acceleration, braking, and maximum speed of their vehicle. It is possible to develop millionaire or even multimillionaire race car drivers by being successful at the slot machine game at the Las Vegas portion of the game which may be visited at any time. Even though the player must manually turn his or her entire bank account into casino tokens, the casino tokens are automatically turned back into "dollars" after the player leaves the casino. The player must earn money in order to keep racing; this is done by either winning races or finishing in podium position. After winning the race, the money must be invested in faster and/or more efficient parts to improve the performance of the vehicle. Having a more efficient racing vehicle will eventually result in winning more difficult races where the winner's prize is higher than in the easier races. Eventually, winning certain races will result in acquiring an international racing license. Players must learn that it "takes money to earn money"; this is a maxim that is just as effective in race car driving as it is in business. Parts in this game vary in cost and tires can only be used a limited number of times before they have to be purchased again. Tires that have the worst handling can be used an unlimited number of times. These tires are the only automobile parts that are free and the player automatically starts out with these at the beginning of the game's "career mode." It is assumed the sponsor is paying for these tires and not the player. The currency used in the game is the dollar regardless of the license or vehicle that the player holds in the game.
In addition to the career (normal) mode of the game, there is also a "free mode" of the game that allows unlimited use of all four vehicles on their respective tracks. These races are done without the distraction of other vehicles. All races in "free mode" are single-lap only. There is still a limited amount of nitro like in the "normal mode" of the game. However, all races done under "free mode" always start with the nitro gauge filled up. New time records made in the "free mode" are saved into the game's battery along with the driver's name until they are broken by another player. Once the player reaches the Formula One level, he or she must race against drivers whose names sound similar to the actual drivers of the 1990 and 1991 Formula One seasons. For example, Satoru Nakajima is known in the game as S.Nakazma.
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