Paris-Dakar Rally Special! is an unusual racing game in which the player must successfully win the Paris-Dakar Rally. However, in order to do so, the player is faced with a wide variety of odd challenges to overcome, a scant number of which actually involve racing.
Developed by ISCO for the NES, Paris-Dakar Rally is notorious for its bizarre structure. Depending on who is asked it is either a testament to the NES library's occasionally creative and off-beat ingenuity, or a legendary "kusoge" (crap game).
Stage 1 - Preparation
In the first stage the player is without vehicle. In order to race in the Paris-Dakar Rally, the player must first acquire a sponsor, some money, a car and a navigation partner. In order to achieve these objectives, the player must walk around town and talk to the right order of sponsors, executives, bank tellers and rally co-ordinators to begin. Once the car has been purchased and a navigation partner chosen (which is resolved with a fast reactions mini-game), the player can take a plane to Paris to begin the rally.
Stage 2 - First Day
The first day races most closely resemble an actual racing game. The player has a top-down view of a vertically-scrolling track and must control the car's speed and direction with the D-pad. In order to qualify for the next stage of the event, the player must make it through the course within a time limit while dodging hostile vehicles from behind and in front. Losing three lives restarts the stage.
Stage 3 - Second Day
This mode more closely resembles the Arcade game Rally-X. The player must maneuver and corner around the Parisian streets in order to avoid rival drivers. They can distract pursuing CPU opponents by dropping rubber balls (possibly tires) behind the player's car to deter them.
Stage 4 - Third Day
The action changes to a side-scrolling perspective and now the player must contend with birds dropping deadly eggs, bridges that collapse once driven on, rolling boulders, fires and other obstacles on the racecourse. Occasionally, the player will need to leave the vehicle in order to hit a switch to extend a bridge before they can continue.
Stage 5 - Fourth Day
As the player is on a variant of the Paris-Dakar course that will inconveniently cross a major sea, the player must steer their car-boat over and under the ocean and avoid various hostile sea creatures and jagged rocks.
Stage 6 - Fifth Day
Into the Dakar desert, the player must drive vertically up the screen while avoiding vicious desert animals like snakes, scorpions, spiders, camels and other hostile racers. The player must also contend with some narrow walls and a section where they must cross between two rafts.
Stage 7 - Sixth Day
At some point between starting the race and the sixth day, World War 3 broke out and the player must use their newly mounted machine guns to take down the enemy aircraft and tanks between them and the finishing line.
Stage 8 - Final Day
The Dakar finish line is just ahead, all the player must do is survive a gauntlet similar to that of the First Day. As with that stage, the player must be alert for other racers all around them and make it to the end within the time limit.