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Video Game / Fatal Racing

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"It's Fatal Racing!!!"

Fatal Racing (known as Whiplash in the US) is a PC racing game by Gremlin Interactive that can best be described as Race Drivin' meets Destruction Derby. Eight teams of two race on courses until either all human players have crossed the finish line (or are destroyed 3 times) or only one car is left running on the track.

Supporting up to 16 players over an IPX network (unusual for its time, as it's a DOS game), fiendishly difficult to the end, the game didn't catch on as most computers of the time struggled with the graphics (unless you had one of them newfangled 3dfx Voodoo cards that came with a 3d accelerated version). A decent Pentium was needed to play the game with SVGA graphics and all the graphics options turned on.

A couple additional notes: The majority of the examples below refer to the unpatched v1.0 Fatal Racing. A patch for Fatal Racing was made, and the US version, Whiplash, uses this "2.0 patch," which fixes a few bugs and changes a couple of options.

This game provides examples of:

  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Each team has two cars, and if one falls far behind the other, it will start driving backwards, which might seem like this trope, but it's actually an intentional attempt to mess with the other drivers And when your teammate does it, he'll let you know in a sarcastic way:
      I, uh, seem to be going in the wrong direction.
      The artificial stupidity comes into play when the driver approaches a jump or corkscrew from the wrong side. They weren't programmed to stop.
    • The Bonus Cup shows off just how stupid the AI cars can be, especially when it comes to trying to pit. For a good number of the courses, the pit areas are actually smaller than indicated on the minimap (though typically ending at the end of the marked area), and yet the AI will insist on coming to a complete halt at the very start of the yellow area on the minimap. On the plus side, it's an easy point in championship mode if you can nail them at full speed while they sit there doing nothing.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Damage from landing can be decreased quite a bit by slamming on the brakes until the engine shuts off. The downside is that the engine must be turned on when you land. Surprisingly, the AI never figures this out, leading to more than a handful of otherwise-unavoidable suicides on Bonus Race 3.
    • The fastest way to accelerate is to hold accelerate and rapidly mash the shift up button, as your acceleration is tied to what gear you're in. Similarly, the fastest way to brake is to downshift all the way to Neutral and hold brake. In the original release Fatal Racing, you could actually shift into Reverse, which allowed you to come to a stop even faster (though it made staying at a stop difficult, which was generally what you wanted since you only ever needed to do so in the pits).
  • Coming in Hot: Figuratively in that a car heading for the pit lane is usually spitting flames and smoke. Literally in that you have to slow down a car going 300 kmh to a dead stop in a pit lane that is about five cars long. And don't even think of slowing down early, you'll just get rear ended despite the best efforts of the drivers behind you by drivers swerving off the racing line just to do that to you.
    • However, if you're lucky enough to come to a stop in the pits while upside-down, there's no problems with repairing you before you're flipped back onto your wheels.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Acceleration stats mean nothing to the computer. Same for braking. Oh, and they can see you perfectly coming off of that loop.
    • Acceleration is fudged, but top speed is scarily accurate. As in, you're going at full speed on a narrow stretch of road with no escape and there's that Reise Wagen slowly creeping up on you... With many tracks being essentially flat out, choosing a slower vehicle is a liability, not for those few measly kmh but because it is slower at all.
    • Thankfully, the Advanced Cars (unlocked with the FORMULA1 code) all have identical stats, maxed out across the board, despite what the car selection interface says. Whether this is actually an improvement or not is debatable, though, since it means taking enough damage to drop your top speed at all means you need to bee-line for the pit before anyone decides to use you for tailgating practice.
  • Damage-Proof Vehicle: Averted and subverted. You're going to take damage, guaranteed. Pitstops of course fix you right up. And your car won't display any visible damage, but will emit gradually increasing quantities of smoke and fire until it suddenly explodes at 0 hit points.
  • Death as Comedy: In addition to comically calling its hardest difficulty Dr. DEATH, the announcer gleefully shouts "Yeah, FATAL!" every time you destroy an opponent.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
  • The Zizin drivers seem to have an even harder time than the player keeping the slippery car on the road and away from track hazards.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Played straight with "girlie" difficulty's naming, but the actual implementation of it makes some courses impossible to get 1st place on (difficulty determines the number of laps, and on Girlie mode, only a handful of courses reach 4 laps).
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: With bonus points coming from head-on collisions or knocking a critically damaged car into a wall! And an Out of the Inferno moment for the car that wrecked it.
  • Excuse Plot: The top eight car manufacturers annually hold a series of races. The winner enjoys a big boost in sales.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Playing a championship on the Bonus Cup will invariably have screwed up championship tables by the time Bonus 3 finishes. Examples include racers appearing twice on the table, racers not appearing in subsequent tracks (because they're no longer on the championship tables), destroying every car on the grid so you're the only remaining car... yet you're still in 3rd place and either have a long time trial or you just kill yourself.
    • Not just limited to the Bonus Cup, apparently. Just triggered this upon total destruction on 1-2 Snake Pass doing the Zizin Challenge.
    • The Divide-By-Zero jump bug that exists in a couple levels has a chance of crashing the game. On one of them, the computer will happily trigger it.
  • Harder Than Hard: Impossible and DR DEATH (the latter of which also locks the damage scale to where any track that has unavoidable damage cannot be won without using the pits) DR DEATH also cranks up the AI's aggressiveness up to eleven.
  • Have a Nice Death: Not winning a race will often result in the announcer giving you particular messages on your performance:
    • Top 5 places: "You just missed it!"
    • Lower places or last one standing: "You've got to try harder!"/"You need more practice!"
    • The voice cheat gives a hilarious one that plays the trope for laughs: "RUBBISH RACER!" (in a cheery mood)
  • Just a Stupid Accent: One of the cheat modes changes the Race Announcer's voice into an alternate version. When the alternate voice is active while navigating the Car Selection Menu, the standard female voice describing the cars with be substituted by the alternate voice, except that on some of the cars, it will speak English with the accent of the country of the car's origin:
    • Auto Ariel: French Accent
    • DeSilva: Italian Accent
    • Pulse Engineering: British Accent
    • Global: Native American Accent
    • Reise Wagon: German Accent
  • Marathon Level:
    • Bonus Race 3 takes about 30 minutes to finish on Impossible, assuming no crashes or flipovers. No other tracks approach this in length, even on Impossible, leading to suspicion of this being a bug. Incidentally, this remained unpatched, and appears even in the US version. Putting this in perspective, the average time for the computers is around 55 seconds. The track has 10 laps on Girlie. That's upwards of 10 minutes on the easiest difficulty. And it's one of those levels where you take unavoidable damage due to completely random flippers that are about ten times as strong as any of the other flippers in the game.
    • Bonus Race 7 is a short, perfectly round circuit. Its sides are sloped, with springy walls that send you bouncing high into the air and most often to your doom (like most courses in the Bonus Cup). What makes this a Marathon Level is the complete lack of friction on the course that sends your car careening outward and into the wall. Oh, and did I mention that it's 50 laps long on Impossible? So much for those 11 second laps.
    • Bonus Race 8 is equally long and it is also a bug. The track has another bug where if too many cars fall into the cycling trapdoor before turn 1, they get stuck upon respawning. So if you're up for an unfair race, you can just cruise around until everyone is stuck.
  • My Car Hates Me:
    • The more damaged your car is, the longer it takes for it to start again after you flip or fall off the track, leaving you stuck in the middle of the road for a few agonizing seconds with a car that's about to explode and 15 other drivers that gain points if they destroy you.
    • Bonus 4. Respawn after getting killed. Car stalls. A car cruising at 360 kmh crests the hill in your rearview mirror...
    • And of course performance loss on damage, just so everyone else can have a go at plowing into your badly damaged car to try and score two points for killing you while they pass you by.
  • Nintendo Hard: Especially with the DR DEATH cheat code.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • Subverted. The only time that certain cheat codes (or, specifically, Cheat Car effects) don't work right is when a specific cheat code is activated (specifically, DUEL)
    • If you activate the alternate Race Announcer's Voice using the appropriate cheat code, it hilariously lampshades cheating at the start of each race:
      "On your marks; no cheating now; GO!!!"
  • Pinball Projectile: Your car, after impacting one of those interesting slanted walls that ricochet you into the air and across the road into the opposite wall, which may or may not do the same thing. The normal tracks have only one short instance of this, but the Bonus Cup is practically made of it.
  • Ramp Jump: Including moving ramps. Most tracks feature those little speedbumps that slowly and mysteriously go up and down. Naturally one pair of those is located in the middle of a turn, on a track section suspended over a ravine with no guardrails.
  • Rubberband AI: Surprisingly averted. It is very possible to lap second place TWICE in a race. Conversely, if one of the AI pulls ahead of you, it can be incredibly difficult to catch up, in spite of watching the lead time ever so slowly close...
  • Shout-Out: Well, the default drivers' names have loads of these.
    • It's not hard to see how the game's tendency to announce the destruction of a car with the word "fatality" pays homage to Mortal Kombat.
  • Spiteful A.I.: Frequently, cars will do a 180 and run tracks backwards with the deliberate intent to take out any car on the grid. This frequently includes you.
    • They'll take out their own partners, especially if their partner is you. You can sometimes force them back in the right direction using the macro message keys (F6 - F8), but chances are they'll acknowledge and ignore.
    • Sometimes they chicken out and turn back, sometimes they drive the wrong way until the bitter end. There is a potential for schadenfreude in the fact that they don't stop for jumps that are impossible to clear in reverse.
    • Some will also race through the pit lane (which is out of the way and usually longer than the regular track) at full speed, aiming for anyone that is recovering health (which requires you to stay motionlessly for extended periods of time in a pit lane).
  • Video-Game Lives: You have only two spare cars, excluding the one you start with, to finish a race. Lose all three with fatalities and you are disqualified from the race.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The conversions between MPH and KMH are wrong. For example, if you play as Global, the max speed in MPH is 197 miles per hour (198 on split-screen two player, for whatever reason). In KMH, you top out at 379/380 km an hour. That should be 237.5 MPH, not 197. Or, 315 KMH if 197 MPH is the base speed of choice.