Winning Run

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Winning Run
Winning Run flyer.jpg
Arcade flyer
Composer(s)Hiroyuki Kawada
Genre(s)First-person Racing
Mode(s)Single player
Arcade systemNamco System 21 "Polygonizer"
CPUMotorola MC68000P12 @ 12.288 MHz,
Motorola 68020[4] @ 12.5 MHz,[5]
Motorola M6809 @ 3.072 MHz,
Hitachi HD63705 @ 2.048 MHz,
Zilog Z80[6]
SoundSix speakers,
Sound chips:
Yamaha YM2151 @ 3.57958 MHz,
Namco C140 @ 21.39 kHz[7]

Winning Run (ウィニングラン, Winingu Ran) is a first-person, Formula 1 racing video game which had been released by Namco as an arcade game in 1988. It was the first game to run on their then new 3D Namco System 21 "Polygonizer" hardware. The music was composed by Hiroyuki Kawada (who had previously composed all the music of Galaga '88) [8] - and this title was an early example of a 3D racing game.[9] Development for the game and the System 21 hardware began over three years before release,[6] since around the mid-1980s. Upon release, it was considered a milestone in 3D polygon graphics technology, pushing 60,000 polygons per second,[6] and using polygon shapes as building blocks for graphic structures such as flood-hit tunnels, pits and steep cambers.[10]


The game was housed in a movable silver/orange sit-down cabinet; as with other Namco racing games from the time, the player had a choice of two game modes: Easy Drive (with Automatic Transmission and slower gameplay), or Technical Drive (Manual Transmission and faster gameplay). The game also featured a Dunlop-style tire bridge over the track with the text of "NAMCO" on it - and the music also had similarities to that of Namco's own Final Lap (1987), where it only used short jingles when the race started. The game also displays a rear-view mirror to show if any cars are behind the player's vehicle.

The game had two sequels: Winning Run Suzuka Grand Prix (1989) and Winning Run '91 (1991); Driver's Eyes (1990) also features similar gameplay to this series, but utilizes three monitors instead of just one.


The game was commercially successful in Japanese arcades. On Famicom Tsūshin's arcade earnings chart, it was number-one in August 1989. In September 1989, it was number-two, after being overtaken by Sega's sprite-based pseudo-3D racer Super Monaco GP.[11] Winning Run was then number-three in October 1989, just below Super Monaco GP at number-one and Sega's arcade version of puzzle video game Tetris at number-two.[12] At the 1989 Gamest Awards, it was nominated for Best Graphics, but lost to the 2D side-scrolling shooter Darius II.[13]

It was also well received in Europe, where it debuted at London's ATEI (Amusement Trades Exhibition International) show in January 1989.[1] In the March 1989 issue of Computer and Video Games, Clare Edgeley and Julian Rignall gave it a positive review, comparing it favourably with Atari's Hard Drivin', which also debuted at the same ATEI show. They described Winning Run's graphics as "simply stunning, with a Polymiser system used to give the most impressive 3D graphics yet seen," noting the "tunnels, hills, alcoves" and "just about everything you'd expect to find on a real race track." They also stated that the gameplay feels "incredible too, with superb handling and feedback as you skid, countersteer and bump on the kerbs." They concluded that it "is easily the best racing game yet seen – it's thoroughly realistic and totally exhilarating."[14] The March 1989 issue of The Games Machine, which also covered the same ATEI show, stated that a "glimpse of the future was offered by Hard Drivin' but Namco were the ones to show what could really be done with polygon graphics," praising the "new 3D Real Time CG Simulation System known as System 21" which "looked incredible" running Winning Run. They noted that, using polygon "shapes as building blocks for graphic structures," this "Formula 1 racing game adds a whole new dimension to car driving – true first person perspective with no compromises!" They noted the presence of "flood-hit tunnels," pits and "steep cambers" while "feeling the pull of gravity," and how it allows the player to go "the wrong way around the course," concluding that it is an "astonishing coin-op."[10]

The September 1989 issue of Commodore User noted that the game is starting "to flood the UK's arcades" and published a positive review by Phil Harrison, who stated that "the sheer speed, resolution and detail created by the Namco programmers is literally breathtaking," noting that the "System 21 Polygoniser" hardware produces 1000 polygons per frame, at 60 frames per second (60,000 polygons per second). He also praised the "six speaker stereo system" for "making the whole game a complete, sensory experience," but noted that it was expensive, with the complete rig costing £10000 (equivalent to £22832 or $28835 in 2018). He concluded that it is "highly recommended as the best, true racing game yet."[6] The October 1989 issue of ACE gave it a full score of 5 out of 5 coins. They also compared it favourably with Hard Drivin', describing Winning Run's graphics as "much faster, smoother, better," with "the fastest filled polygon graphic system in the Universe" and "the best race driving model in the Universe." They described it as "a very playable and accessible game," concluding that "it is the ultimate coin-op driving experience to date."[1]

It came third place on Computer and Video Games magazine's list of the top arcade games of 1989, stating "Namco's ultra-realistic filled-3D racing simulation is a joy to ride."[15] The March 1990 issue of Your Sinclair included it on their list of top five arcade games of 1989, at number-five (below Hard Drivin' and Super Monaco GP). They compared it unfavourably with Hard Drivin', however, stating that Winning Run was "perhaps more technically accomplished" but the "lack of a stunt course" or "trackside cow" diminished "the appeal somewhat."[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Home page of Arttu". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Winning Run for Arcade Games - GameFAQs". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Winning Run International Releases - Giant Bomb". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  4. ^ "System 16 - Namco System 21 Hardware (Namco)". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d "Commodore User Magazine Issue 72". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Namco System 21 (Concept) - Giant Bomb". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  8. ^ Namco G.S.M. Winning Run
  9. ^ Winning Run at the Killer List of Videogames
  10. ^ a b "The Games Machine Magazine Issue 16". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  11. ^ Famicom Tsūshin, issue 19 (September 15, 1989)
  12. ^ Famicom Tsūshin, issue 22 (October 27, 1989)
  13. ^ Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-26
  14. ^ "Home page of Arttu". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  15. ^ "CVG Magazine Issue 098". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Home page of Arttu". Retrieved 21 June 2017.

External links[edit]