In honor of Rush 2 I decided to dedicate this time to discussing more about the genre. Today I'll be counting down the Top Ten Racing Games of all time! Or more accurately the Top Ten Racing Games out of all the ones I've played, but that doesn't get nearly as many hits, does it? So, buckle up and get ready for a wild ride!
Road Rash is a game known for its motorcycles, cops, and use of weapons to battle it out for first place. This racing gem by Electronic Arts was one of many Sega exclusive that made getting a Sega Genesis worth the money. I was first introduced to this game through my brother as I watched him and his friends used to play it all the time. I can still remember his friend falling off his bike and trying to finish the race on foot. Yeah, you can actually do that. Unfortunately for him, he got caught by police.
While Road Rash 1 and 2 are particularly bland, mainly due to technology restraints I'm sure, Road Rash 3 offers a lot more color and features and ages a little more gracefully than its predecessors. There are more variety to the courses and focus on fighting other racers, and that was always one of the things that made it standout from other racers, and introduces bike upgrades that changes the controls when you install them. There's more than enough to keep you busy even now assuming you're a fan of retro games or grew up with them.
While it can be seen as a little bit of a Mario Kart rip off, Crash Team Racing still has that Naughty Dog team spirit and was one of the last good Crash Bandicoot games next to Bash. Unlike Mario Kart this game actually has a plot and a reason why everybody in the Crash universe is racing. All of our favorites are here: Crash, Dr. Cortex, Coco, Dr. N-Gin, Ripper Roo, even Tiny Tiger. You start the game off with eight characters, but there are fifteen characters you can play overall after unlocking them. Remember when you had unlockables for new content? Good times.
Like any good racing game based off a platformer, it has plenty of weapons and power ups to use during a race. We have bowling bombs, explosive crates a plenty. We have turbo, warp orbs galore. You want Aku Aku masks? I've got twenty! But who cares? No big deal. I want more... Okay, I'm getting sidetracked. Back when I first played this I didn't care for it all that much, but that had more to do with my thoughts on the genre than the game. Looking back it was actually pretty good and help cement Crash as a good alternative to Mario.
Rush 2049 pushes the franchise into a futuristic settings with new cars, new tracks and an even better obstacle course. Not to mention that this time around you have up to four players at any one time making it great to play with friends. If you're familiar with the series at all then chances are this addition is the first one you think about. There are more obstacles on the actual tracks during races you have to contend with too. You think you're safe and happy and then next thing you know you run right into a train! Tough luck, pal.
Instead of being all around America the game goes back to the city of San Francisco. I would've preferred it'd be all around the world given the expansion of the last game, but I digress. We're in the future so we have that going for us and cars even have wings. It's 2049 so it's about damn time cars can fly, but it only for a limited amount of time so look out! The circuit is a lot more refined and is separated by difficulty. Be sure to strap in and get ready to drive off into the future!
Have I mentioned lately that I like San Francisco Rush a lot? This is the game that started it all for the Rush franchise and introduced me to a new way of racing with more explosions and... explosions. I'll always remember the sight of the Golden Gate bridge when starting at the first course and driving through it. This game doesn't have any of the refinements or additions that Rush 2 introduced, but it's still a good game to pick up and play either alone or with a friend. Especially if you just want to race. The whole franchise is good if you just want to race and not care about anything else.
While you can't set the difficulty of the track, you can make things easier or harder for you depending on the type of car you choose, and each one was labeled easily so you knew what to expect going in. Like 2049, it was limited to San Francisco, but that was fine because it was the first game. If you want present day San Francisco (well, more like 90's day San Francisco now) this was the game to get. If you wanted Future San Francisco then 2049 was your baby. You could bang up your car, make others crash, and enjoy all of the explosions that dare I say was better than the sequels? I haven't encounter a miniature explosion in the other games yet. If you like the other games and haven't played this one yet then I definitely recommend it.
A friend introduced me to this game back in either the late nineties or early two-thousands and it quickly became one of my favorite racing games. This was also my introduction to Donkey Kong as well. Unlike CTR you can actually race in other vehicles like a hovercraft or a plane in addition to the usual cars. This game even came with its own adventure mode in Single Player that really makes it stands out among other racing games, even one based off of platformers.
You can definitely tell Mario Kart had a lot of influence over this game. It even comes with a battle stage where you can just run around blasting the hell out of each other. Weapons include things like explosives, a trail of bananas, and a bunch of other things I forgot. Been a while since I played this. I may need to correct that soon. By the way, plane is the best vehicle. Diddy Kong Racing is a lot of fun and easily earns its spot on the list. Now it's time for the top five!
Let's face it, this was going to get on here eventually. Mario Kart 64 is one of the best 3D racing games to ever come out and like all things Mario it executes its straightforward presentation to perfection. No story, no adventure mode of any kind. Just good old fashion racing with weapons and power ups that you can only get from a Mario game. Play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser. Wait a minute, he invited his sworn enemies to have a race with him? That's pretty generous.
Each characters have their own stages like Mario and Luigi Raceway, Toad's Turnpike, Wario Stadium, Royal Raceway, DK Jungle Parkway, Yoshi's Valley, and Bowser's Castle. There are four tracks per cup you want to race for and in the end first, second, and third place winners gets a gold, silver, and bronze trophy respectively. Mario Kart 64 also has its own battle arena where you can fight to the death. Whether you want to race or fight, you can never go wrong with Mario Kart.
Road Rash 3D took everything that was great about the previous titles and brought it together in 3D for the first time. Now with full-motion-video, we could experience Road Rash in a whole new way. This was the one that really made you feel those catches by the police because it'd cut to a clip of a dog's face barking at you. I can still remember doing so poorly on a race that the guys gave me training wheels when I finally reached the finish line.
You can still whack other racers upside the head with weapons, but there's a lot more emphasis on the actual racing aspect of the game this time around. The various courses all connect to one giant track rather than being set in different cities and it's pretty cool seeing how everything interconnects. Big Game is your one-player mode where you can buy bikes, earn more cash, and even lose cash depending on how you do in the races or if you're caught by police. This is one EA game we don't want to toss out the window.
Need for Speed is another game by EA that raced its way into our hearts in 1994. First only available on the 3DO before being ported to PC, Sega Saturn, and the PlayStation. In case the cover choice wasn't hint enough, I only ever played the PlayStation version. I remember playing this on one of my brother's demos a long time ago and while I haven't divulge any deeper into the franchise what I have played was very enjoyable.
Similar to Road Rash, it's possible to get arrested in these games and run into traffic on the roads you're racing on. People just can't help but to street race. Unlike Road Rash the cops don't carry you off straight away. Only after you receive a couple of tickets do they take you to jail. The game really goes out of its way to tell you more about the cars, from detailed specs, history, audio commentary, and real-life videos of each vehicle you can select excluding Warrior. It's actually educational! I'm glad they took the 'the' out in future titles. The Need for Speed? That sounds horrible. With seven tracks, and eight cars to choose from, Need for Speed is a great start for a great series.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to any longtime race fan. Gran Turismo 2 was my introduction to the franchise and one of the first racing games I played after Road Rash and Need for Speed. Instead of racing in the street you have official race tracks to drive on so there's no reason to worry about being pulled over by police. Depending on how good you are may have to worry about staying on the road, but that's another story. Like Need for Speed, the game has licensed cars separated in three categories and plenty of color choices. I always liked riding in the Mustang since it reminds me of my mother's car. There's also an option for drag racing.
Gran Turismo 2 is separated by two discs: Arcade and Simulation. Arcade is your straightforward racing stuff that I always spent the most time on. Simulation is about getting your license and starting your career out as a racer. Not a bad setup and I'd talk about it more if I was any good at taking tests. As embarrassing as it to say, I never past the driving test in that game so I never got my license. GT2 also has the best opening of any racing game I've ever played. The black and white scenery, the music, it's just great. Just one more reason to love the PlayStation.
And first place goes to...
Oh, what a shocker. The game I reviewed last week is number one. Let's just say it managed to leave a lasting impression on me. I can't help but feel the series should have taken a cue from this game and kept expending until we were racing all around the world. Rush 2 refines a lot of the gameplay from the first game and introduces a lot of things that are carried over to the third game like cars modifications, course settings, and the obstacles/stunt course. Another thing I like about Rush is that there are no licensed cars. Just pick the car you like, pick the color you like, and race away.
With the difficulty setting on tracks you can play the game at any level you're comfortable with and decide how many cars you want to race against as well as weather conditions. I have a whole review on the game so if you haven't checked it out you can scroll to the bottom to find the link. This is the only game in the franchise exclusive to the N64 too, and they were smart to keep it to themselves. Rush 2 is worth getting a Nintendo 64 for if you're a huge racing fan.
And that's it for the Top Ten Racing Games. I had a lot of fun writing this list up and hoped you had just as much fun reading it. Catch you guys tomorrow when I review Xenogears. You won't want to miss it.