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Indy 500 is a simulation of the 1989 Indianapolis 500 and includes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a selection of three Indy cars

Released: 1989
Profile Updated: Mar 14, 2024
Sorting Tags: Amiga, Best simulations, Classic, Downloads, Indy 500: The Simulation, Joystick Support Feature, Keyboard Support Feature, Mouse Support Feature, PC-DOS, Playable, Playable Mobile, Practice Session Feature, Qualifying Session Feature, Single Player Feature, Single Race Session Feature, Software (by date), Software (by name), Papyrus Racing Games.
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Indianapolis 500: The Simulation is a 1989 (PC) and 1990 (Amiga) racing video game by Papyrus Design Group. It was the first release from the legendary sim racing studio that went on to define the genre.

The game was intended as a realistic simulation of the 1989 Indianapolis 500 and featured Penske, Lola and March chassis as-raced in the real-life race that year.

It featured many firsts in sim racing and is considered by many to be the first true racing simulation.

Product Overview
This is the title that finally tore a rift between racing game and racing simulation, with magazine reviewers suggesting that anyone who couldn’t handle it stick to less realistic software. While there had been other software which attempted to give a realistic gameplay experience, with Indy 500 the player found themselves locked to first-person (cockpit view) and forced to adjust the standard car setup in order to compete for wins.

The game also forced players to qualify with damage on, meaning that while a slight brush with the wall could be ignored, any significant impact resulted in a disabled car. Players had to complete the four-lap qualifying session at near-perfect levels in order to qualify with an average speed high enough for the front row. To this day it is still one of the few situations in any software where a player can feel genuine pressure to perform. Skipped qualifying always resulted in a 33rd-place starting position.

Players had the option to run a 10-lap sprint race without damage or yellow flags, a 30-lap race without damage, or challenge themselves to a 60 or 200-lap race where a single mistake could end it all. Many people experienced the horror of losing hours of gameplay and desperately trying to drive a crippled car back to the pits for repairs.

Bad driving and setup also had an impact, as you could blow the engine and tires could overheat, forcing cars to drift into the wall exiting turns two and four, or to retire from the race. By all standards, Indy 500 was one of the first racing titles to offer players this depth of difficulty.

After any major event a player could choose to view a 20-second replay from five different angles, all of them locked to the player car. An additional leader and crash camera was available at trackside which was useful for placing and avoiding wrecked cars, or seeing how close you were to being lapped!

Cars and Track
Drivers take control of car number 17 and select from a red Lola-Buick, blue March-Cosworth or yellow Penske-Chevrolet. With the exception of Rich Vogler, who qualified in 33rd and is replaced by the player, the field of 32 A.I. opponents in the software mirror the 1989 Indianapolis 500 starting grid.

The Penske-Chevrolet had the fastest default setup, but it was the Lola-Buick that many found to be the best car after tweaking the setup. Apart from the obvious differences, the color of the car and team uniforms in the race win congratulations slideshows also were different for each car. Celebration styles were also different, with the Penske driver drinking milk and the Lola celebrating with his crew.

As a simulation of the 1989 Indianapolis 500, the software features the 2.5-mile near-rectangular Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval used for the event in real-life. The model captures all major structures and is surprisingly detailed for this period with Pagoda, scoring tower, grandstands and turn two VIP suites all visible (see image below).

The main difference in terms of gameplay was the fact that the Amiga version supported joystick, keyboard and (most usefully) mouse input in steering that worked incredibly well, while the PC version remained stuck on keyboard. Most joysticks had digital axis at this time, so the mouse allowed you to drive in an incredibly precise way and perhaps this explains why the A.I. on the Amiga seemed capable of slightly faster laptimes. The Amiga also had just one type of graphics output, but on PC they varied quite a lot between all the (M)CGA modes, Tandy mode, EGA and standard VGA.

Another of the most noticeable differences between the Commodore Amiga and MS-DOS versions, were the engine and collision sounds; A standard Amiga was far more capable at this time of producing quality sound than most home computers. However, there were better sounds available on PCs with the rarely used specialist soundcards of the time; such as the Roland MT-32 noted on the box.

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