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Ford Simulator 7.0 – 1996 Virtual Showroom CD-ROM

Ford Simulator 7.0 - 1996 Virtual Showroom CD-ROM

Back when I was about 7 years old I
ended up with a copy of Ford Simulator for MS-DOS, specifically the second
release from 1990. I made a video talking about it almost a decade ago here on LGR
but my fascination with the series remains intermittently steadfast, I guess
you could say. There's just something odd about these pieces of software which
were distributed freely for about a decade beginning in 1987, with six of
them being released by Ford Motor Company and the SoftAd Group by the
time the series ended. Or so I thought.

Then I happen to see this show up on
eBay a while back and I had to grab it! This is Ford Simulator 7.0 From 1996
which as far as I can tell has never appeared online before this video. Well it's
never been seen in any real depth, at least. Heck it's even hard to find a reference to this thing anywhere on the internet at all, other than one lone forum post
from 2003 inquiring in vain about its existence. As well as this scan of a
Brazilian shareware catalog which is actually just an optical character
reader's flawed interpretation of "Ford Simulator 2." So say hello to the Internet,
Ford Simulator 7.0! You have a lot of cat videos to catch up on.

And yes that is a
Jaguar plopped in there between the Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury products, being from
the era when Ford owned Jaguar Cars. What makes this notable is that all
previous versions of Ford Simulator did not acknowledge that fact and from what
I've seen this is the only release to have done so. And as with all these Ford
Sim releases they originally came directly from Ford Motor Company in
Dearborn, Michigan, provided free of charge if you requested it from a
dealership, by mail, over the phone, whatever worked. And this one has never
been opened since it was first shipped out decades ago, so this is quite the
exceptional moment! I mean, I guess it is.

I don't know my opinions on these things
are skewed. Once unsealed it folds open to reveal the program itself on a CD-ROM. A
pleasant surprise to me since all previous versions I've owned have only
come on floppy disks. The only other thing you get inside is a card with a
few technical details, which includes some details of the technical variety.
Like the fact that it not only requires Windows, but also SVGA graphics, 8 megabytes of RAM, and a 50 megahertz 486 CPU.

Pretty
hefty specs compared to previous releases that were only made for DOS and
could run on most any PC with a VGA card. We'll be running this on Windows 95
since well, it came out in 1996 so it felt appropriate. And without further ado
behold" the long lost Ford Simulator 7.0! Narrator: "Welcome to Ford Simulator 7 and the exciting world of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and Jaguar vehicles. Please select a
specific vehicle now!"
LGR: eh it's fine.

It's just a virtual product catalog like all
the other Ford Sims. But I mean, there's got to be more to it so let's keep going
because I'm sure there's some 90s CD-ROM. Goodness in here. Like the pointless and
long-winded narration that happens on every menu when a simple line of text
would suffice.
Narrator: "To see a list of available accessories and elec–this screen provides a view of the many features available to each of Ford's–accessories and
electronics options–paint your car by selecting one of the colors at the bottom of the
screen…"
LGR: or the bodacious full motion videos that play for every single
vehicle complete with saxophone music and more of that sultry narrator.
Narrator: "the Mercury Grand Marquis offers convenience, comfort, a powerful 4.6 Liter
overhead-cam v8 with a 100,000 mile tune-up, and a body-on-frame construction
that helps produce its legendary ride.

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With a roomy 6 passenger interior,
luxurious upholstery, and convenient appointments, you'll feel right at home
away from home!" LGR: Ahh, the mid-90s. When CD-ROM was still the new hotness and every program went out of their way to use all 650+
megabytes whether they needed to or not. And Ford Simulator 7.0 Is a delightful
example, functioning more like an interactive audio-visual encyclopedia
than any of the previous releases. You could slap a Compton's logo in there
somewhere and it'd have no problem fitting in with the rest of the
presentation.

But yeah beyond the state of the art 1996 multimedia facade, Ford
Sim 7 really is the exact same core experience as the Ford Simulators that
preceded it. That is, it's a computerized advertisement meant to sell you on a new
car. Look at photos, videos, lists of
specifications, accessories, trim levels, lease options, and even customize the
paint! So instead of flipping through a physical Ford catalog or visiting a Ford
showroom, you can browse an interactive selection
of their automotive offerings from the comfort of your own computer chair. So it
not only made sense for someone in the market for a new car but for those
looking for something, anything, to run on their computer for free.
I was definitely one of those people back then, and at ten years old I still
would have been somewhat amused by Ford Simulator 7.

Not just because it was
a computer thing, but I just liked anything with cars at all. But really the
biggest thing that drew me to Ford Simulators was the so-called "simulator"
aspect. Choosing the 'Game' mode from the main menu left behind the confines of
manufacturer warranty information and annual finance rate calculations and
provided a welcome reprieve in the form of a cheap ripoff of the game Test Drive
with a little bit of Outrun tossed in. And the version of Ford Simulator that
comes with Ford Simulator 7.0 Is practically identical to the one in 6.
And five.

And probably 4 and even 3 to a degree… Yeah they got lazy
with these releases later on it seems. Oh well, it does differ a bit in that there
are fewer features than previous releases so that's nice… Like, right away
you can't choose the car to drive like you could in 6.0.

Not that it made a huge
difference to the gameplay since the driving is so basic, but still, why take
that away? All you can do here is choose between automatic and manual
transmission and you're given the objective of reaching Lake Wakatonka as
fast as possible, with multiple forks in the road presenting multiple routes to
take. Sounds like a fun race right? It isn't. It's not really a race at all
since you're not racing anyone or limited by time. All you need to do is
make it to the end of the road in one piece, which is accomplished by driving
slowly, cautiously, and more or less within the speed limit.

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Wheeeeeeeee. Along the way you'll be running into plenty of traffic though. And I mean it you literally run
into them, complete with Bat-Fight words. *1960S Batman TV show sound effects play* And if you drive too fast within view of
a police car you'll be pulled over.

Four miles over the speed limit?! Ooh you're such a rebel! But the biggest obstacle are the roads themselves which are
bizarrely tough to stay on. Not sure if it's a mixture of the controls, the
physics, or the fact that this sucks but the driving in this is atrocious. Even at
low speeds you're frequently but inconsistently being pulled from one
side to the other, like a giant but faulty electromagnet keeps switching off
and on to each side of your car, while the road itself is covered in a mixture
of molasses and snot. This is a confusingly-built advertisement for Ford
vehicles seeing how badly the car handles here, it's infuriating! Then every
so often you'll be presented with a gas station you can stop inside and oh! Who are y–what the heck is wrong with your face…? So this guy says after you've paid for
gas you only have enough money to buy one thing, even though you don't actually
have money that runs out.

Oh well. You've got three options: buying a map is the
most useful item to grab since it provides you the ability to press F2 to
open the map and refer to a map of the map. Not necessary of course and each
route looks 99% identical to all the others, but still nice to have since it
lets you know which fork in the road leads where. The other two purchase
options, soda pop and candy bars, do absolutely nothing.

I thought maybe they
might act as a kind of health, removing one of the hits you took when you
collided with something, but nope. All they do is nothing. Which really about
sums up this mode to be honest… A whole lot of nothing.

It's a driving simulator
that simulates the most mundane aspects of driving while providing little more
than a test of your patience and obnoxious PC speaker noise. *Obnoxious PC speaker noise plays, pulsating painfully as the engine revs* Once you make it to the end 15 or 20
minutes later, hooray I guess. You get a perplexing
animation showing who I presume is the developer and a logo that is not SoftAd,
but Code To Go. Well that's strange.

Code To Go I've talked about in the past since
under programmer Dan Duncalf they developed the Disney game Coaster, as
well as the DOS port to Turbo Outrun among others. This is the first time I've
seen a reference to them having developed the driving portion of Ford Simulator games and considering the Outrun connection that kind of makes
sense. So hey that's something we've learned together. Fun times.

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Fnd that's it
for Ford Simulator 7.0! This particular release may have been forgotten by most
until now but I can't say I blame anyone. It's the final release of a debatably
memorable series of free computer software and the most notable thing
about it is that it eluded being properly cataloged on the internet for
all these years. There are some wonderfully cheesy FMV sequences for
each vehicle, and that's fun enough I. Guess.

Especially since the older
releases just had static or animated imagery. But then the quote-unquote
"simulator" mode that it comes with is just as much of a letdown as the
previous few Ford Sims. To me though Ford Simulator 7 is a bit more
fascinating for the context in which it was released rather than the software
itself. In the days before widespread worldwide web access and multimedia-laden websites these kinds of software packages made a lot more sense for a car
company.

And Ford Simulator 7 was the last of its kind for Ford. This was 1996,
where you could realistically expect home users to have a 33.6 Kilobits per
second dial-up modem connection, if they had one at all. So embedding full motion
video and sound into a website didn't make much sense. And the game mode,
well, even being a freebie it was hardly very appealing when you had fantastic
racing games hitting the PC left and right by then.

Finally, the explosion of
internet usage in North America around 1997 meant that it really didn't make
much sense to continue releasing Ford Simulators. All one had to do was log on
to www.Ford.Com and get 95% of the exact same content and functionality that you would from Ford Simulator. Yeah maybe you didn't get the hundreds of megabytes of narration, video clips, and ethereal candy bar-chomping roadtrip
gameplay… But the website did the job for most computer-savvy folks, and it didn't
require writing CDs or floppy disks for physical distribution.

Ford Sim Seven
existed as it did, when it did, for a list of reasons that only existed for a small
moment in tech history: where the world of offline and online multimedia were
evolving, shifting, and merging in intriguing and unpredictable ways
month-to-month. And I can't help but smile thinking back to that specific
moment in time that flew by without most of us even noticing. I just realized that
I've been messing with Ford Simulators for like 27 years and I've never ended
up owning a Ford. Heh, yeah not a very effective piece of adware I guess.

But
anyway if this video was effective in providing some enjoyment then perhaps
you'd like to see some of these others! And as always thank you for watching LGR..

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