Final Lap (ファイナルラップ, Fainaru Rappu) is a racing video game produced by Namco, and released by Atari Games for the United States in 1987. It was the unofficial sequel to the popular Pole Position games. In many ways, this game can be considered Pole Position 3, as it improved upon its original formula and bears much similarity to its predecessor.
Final Lap was the first racing game to allow up to eight players to simultaneously race, on the Suzuka Circuit in a Formula One race. This was at the time considered a revolutionary feature, implemented by linking together multiple arcade machines. It was also arguably the first racing game to implement "rubber banding" to ensure that less talented players were never too far behind the leader, a concept that would be taken much further by the Mario Kart series. There was also a single player mode, in which player score was based on how far the car travelled until time ran out or if the player completes four laps (on default settings).
The player either pilots the Williams-Honda, Lotus-Honda or McLaren-Porsche or March-Cosworth cars on the Suzuka track. The cars resembled the respective models of 1987, which was also the first time a formula one grand prix was held on the Suzuka track. The track is reproduced very similar to even down to sponsor billboards to the original track but greatly shortened, as i takes less than 40 seconds to complete one lap in the game. The only music is (i) the theme when race being start, which plays for three seconds and sounds like the Pole Position start music, a short fanfare (ii) if a record is broken or (iii) the four laps completed.
It ran on Namco's System 2 hardware, which was composed of:
Motorola 68000 x2/12.288000 MHz
Motorola 6809 3.072000 MHz
Hitachi HD63705 2.04800 MHz
Namco C-140 Custom PCM chip
Yamaha YM-2151 sound processor
It was also the first game to use this system.
Final Lap was succeeded by two sequels: Final Lap 2 in 1990, which featured courses in Japan, USA, Italy and Monaco, Final Lap 3 in 1992 and Final Lap R in 1993. It also had a racing-RPG spin-off called Final Lap Twin in 1988.
In 1990, Philip Morris, the tobacco conglomerate, filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement against Namco, Atari Games (the Final Lap distributor in the U.S.) and Sega on behalf of their Super Monaco GP game because both of these games featured a Marlboro billboard, which was found on the real-life Suzuka and Monaco tracks.
Philip Morris was under investigation at the time for their role in preteen smoking, and the appearance of one of their brands in games aimed towards children and teens did not help their image. Namco was forced to pay a settlement and Sega had to edit their game to remove all Marlboro signs.