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North American Nintendo 64 cover art
|Developer(s)||Midway Games (arcade)
Williams (Nintendo 64)
|Programmer(s)||Eric Pribyl (lead software)
|Arcade system||Midway V Unit|
512 x 400 resolution
Cruis'n USA is an arcade racing game originally released in 1994. It was developed by Midway Games and published and distributed by Nintendo. It is the first game in the Cruis'n series and features locations around the United States.
Although Cruis'n USA was advertised as running on Ultra 64 hardware (based on the Nintendo 64's hardware), it was actually implemented on the Midway V-unit hardware. The hardware consisted of a TMS32031 CPU clocked at 50 MHz, an ADSP-2115 DSP clocked at 10 MHz for sound and a custom 3D chip that could render perspective-correct but unfiltered quads at a high resolution (512 x 400 pixels).
Along with Killer Instinct, it was planned as a launch title for the Nintendo 64. Neither game made it out for Nintendo 64's launch, however.
It was released on Wii's Virtual Console in Europe on March 28, 2008, making it the first third party developed Nintendo 64 game to be released on the service. It became available on the Virtual Console in North America on March 31, 2008.
Like in most racing games, players race down one-way courses consisting of streets vaguely based on real-life locations. While racing, they do their best to avoid various road hazards such as oncoming traffic and construction. Players chose between seven different cars to race with. The car can simulate either an automatic or manual transmission. Automatic increases the speed of gear shifts, while players using the manual transmission must switch during races. The environments of the tracks range from Golden Gate Park to Washington DC. Players must reach first place to move on to the next track. Unlike most racing games, there is the option to change the music by pressing the music button. Whenever a race is completed, the player unlocks either a new vehicle or a new color, depending on the difficulty completed. Each new color represents a performance upgrade, as indicated in the specifications when selecting a vehicle. Players have the option to select the color of the car that they choose to play, with each color being a higher or lower spec.
Along with Killer Instinct, the arcade original was showcased at the June 1994 Consumer Electronics Show as running on Ultra 64 hardware, upon which a 64-bit Nintendo console of the same name would be released. However, a few months later Nintendo of America admitted that Cruisin' USA was actually programmed before Ultra 64 development tools were available, and that even at this point Rare (the developer of Killer Instinct) was the only development company to have access to Ultra 64 development tools. (The Cruis'n USA cabinet shown at the Consumer Electronics Show was actually running on a modified JAMMA board.) Cruis'n USA was programmed to run on arcade hardware that was very different from that of Nintendo's home console, later renamed the Nintendo 64. As a result, Williams, the developers of the Nintendo 64 version, had to downgrade most of the graphics in the home version. Originally announced as a launch title for the Nintendo 64, less than a month before launch day it was pulled from the lineup and returned to Williams for retooling because it did not meet Nintendo's quality standards. Several elements of the game, such as the ability to run over animals, were censored from the Nintendo 64 version. During the last couple of months of development, people sent letters or emails about the censorship.
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