Published on July 28th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
A Review of Kyle Petty No Fear Racing: Wait…It’s GOOD?!
Year: 1995 // System: SNES // Publisher: Williams Entertainment // Developer: Leland Interactive Media // Designers: Gary Luecker, Dave Wagner, Stephen Kramer (Programmer) // Genre: Racing // Atmosphere: NASCAR
>>> Get ready for some of the most shocking news I’ve come across, retro racing fans! Kyle Petty No Fear Racing…is a good game! SERIOUSLY! This may in fact be the best racing game I’ve played for the Super Nintendo thus far! Few stock car racers graced either the Super Famicom or SNES in an era when Formula One was the world’s most privileged and most recognized auto sport. Since Japanese popularity with the series was at an all-time high in the early to mid nineties, the video game console market became saturated with F1 simulators. In my research I discovered over twenty-five games for the Super Famicom that were released within a span of four years. Twenty-five! The average Joe’s SNES collection of games probably didn’t amount to any more than fifteen! Needless to say, that was a lot of titles for one particular theme.
Obviously NASCAR wasn’t as big in Japan, but in 1995 Virgin Interactive released a NASCAR-themed racer and titled it Circuit USA. Williams Entertainment in the states got a hold of it and cleaned up the programming by adding in overhead bridges and elevation effects where the crossovers on the track were located in order to heighten the sense of realism and make the racer more attractive to an American audience which was more likely to buy into the stock car themed racing style.
Renamed Kyle Petty No Fear Racing because of Kyle Petty’s celebrity status in North America, this stock car racer took on open-wheel-type fantasy circuits based in real American cities while throwing in a couple of ovals to represent tracks that were featured on the Winston Cup schedule in 1995. If you wanted to turn left, then you could simply turn left…but be prepared to steer clear of rain puddles and road blocks strewn about the course! There are different palette backgrounds fortwenty-eightdifferent tracks (yes, you heard right…each one with their own track lengths, lap amounts, and road hazards). For example, snowy tracks featured slippy ice patches, while the courses driven in fog limited the player’s visibility of upcoming corners.
You had two main modes:Season and Single Race. In single race, you can skip qualifying and line up with a provisional. But in Season, you qualify for each and every race AND you must take on ALL twenty-eight courses in order to reach the end!
Oh, by the way, this was the first racer I’ve come across (so far) that allows you to build your own track! No NASCAR-themed or licensed game has even bothered with such a feature after the fact, but in this game, you could build the course from the top-down and then zoom in to flesh out the environment with scenic backdrops and hazards of your own! You could then race this track in the Single Race mode! Now THAT’s what I call innovation! Well, at least for an SNES racer…
The only issue with building a racetrack concerned the slippery controls. In placing objects on the course, you sometimes had to cycle to another item before returning to the one you wanted because the game didn’t recognize that you could indeed place that specific item on or next to the track. Also, in the overhead view, you placed the pieces of the course itself through the D-pad alone, instead of allowing you to rotate between pieces of a track with the directional buttons like in Roller Coaster Tycoon and then press A or another command button to confirm your selection. That would have slimmed down on the confusion that working with the D-pad alone causes while putting together a racetrack…
The racing itself is smooth, interesting, and highly dependent on your difficulty setting. Easy lets you begin your domination right away, Normal requires you to spend money on equipment upgrades such as stronger engines, transmissions, suspension, and fuel tanks before you can start to tear up the field on a regular basis. Hard keeps you on your toes even when you finally acquire all of the fastest and most durable upgrades. Therefore, if you want a challenge, then Hard (Veteran) will give it to you without becoming ridiculous…
I will say that it was disappointing how many road courses there were in the place of the real life ovals that those fantasy tracks represented (i.e. Charlotte, Bristol, Dover, Phoenix…), and I hated how they used the Formula One points system (in NASCAR, the top 6 are NOT the only ones to gain points…just saying…that’s not realistic), but it’s worth mentioning how this was a far more enjoyable racer than the standard fare that made its way onto the Super Famicom due to its roads littered with debris and slick spots, antsy competition (Kyle Petty made your life a living Hell…unless you were really good), and well-paced use of powerups such as the turbo.
Congrats to you, Virgin and Williams Entertainment, for cooking up a high-speed thriller that gave us stock car racing fans just enough of those styles of cars with all of the recognizable car numbers (3 for Earnhardt, 6 for Martin, 43 for Kyle’s dad Richard Petty…or Wally Dallenbach, Jr. in this game) and racetracks with familiar names (Daytona Beach, Talladega) while keeping the game play itself varied and exciting.
Challenge: 8/10: Three difficulty settings are well-planned and allow the player to set the game at his or her own pace. Only on the hardest setting, Veteran, does this rad racer flex its muscles…and that’s because the player asked for it. You have one of the longest season schedules known to man on the SNES with twenty-eight different race tracks to conquer. Yikes! Pitting starts off kind of rough, but becomes more intuitive as you go along, and the pit times pick up as you obtain upgrades via your race winnings.
Handling: 7/10: The in-game racing is fine in itself: You have your four buttons- each one for cruise, gas, brake, and nitro- and then your L and R buttons which allow you to shift gears if you’re in manual. The means of using only the D-pad to create racetracks in the Custom Course mode could turn confusing right fast, and there were certainly glitches in selecting objects to decorate the track with in the more detailed custom course mode. Also, pitting could turn sour if you forgot to hit the right button (and it’s bad enough that the function for each button is not clearly explained during pit stops) and ended up leaving pit road without changing your tires or, worse, replenishing your fuel tank. But once you got the hang of the pit commands, then the game play during races presented no issues.
Innovation: 8/10: The custom track feature takes the cake on this deal…not to mention the means of upgrading your vehicle through both permanent and temporary upgrades with your winnings was pretty smart…even if the temporary power-ups weren’t clearly separated from the permanent ones.
Core Experience: 7/10: I’ve got beef with the Formula One points system. That doesn’t belong in NASCAR. Personal point that doesn’t actually reflect the grade aside, the whole feel of the game was thrilling and fast paced, but could turn repetitive after twenty-eight races in the season mode. Once you’d seen them all…especially in the breezy Novice and Pro modes…then you were okay if you never saw them again.
OVERALL: 7.5/Solid: Kyle Petty No Fear Racing is a good racing game on the Super Nintendo…and so far, it’s the best one I’ve come across. No, no, it’s not “amazing” or breathtaking,” and I haven’t played some of the classic racing entries out there like “Super Mario Kart” and “F-Zero,” but as a stock car racer for one of the lower-res systems like the Super Nintendo, this title will certainly suffice.