You may or may not have noticed, but, Arcade style racers have been in short supply. Today, most developers of racing games focus on realistic physics, handling, weather effects, as well as a myriad of other design choices to make the games feel as though the player is a real-world racing driver. While this is fantastic for players who love racing simulators, it has left a vacuum in the arcade segment of the racing market.

Games such as The Crew, Forza Horizon and to some extent, Mario Kart are among the current selection of players looking for an arcade racing experience. Forza Horizon best resembles a virtual play area with cars where players can compete in several different race types resembling a mix of arcade and simulation racing. The Crew is an open-world modern racing game that offers a decent amount of customizability. Cars can be modified to run cross-country, for sprint racing and off-road, depending on the situation the player may find themselves in. Mario Kart is unique as it is a combination of racing and car combat when used with the power-ups scattered along the race tracks.

These games exhibit some of the fun and feeling of the old-school arcade racers but lack much of the substance that made the older generation of games a fun and memorable experiences such as the original Road Rash and its sequels on the Sega Genesis.

Road Rash

 

In Road Rash, the player is competing in illegal street racing; they must deal with police and other racers on the road. Players and NPC’s can use weapons to knock one another off each other’s motorcycles which can be a fun little mini-game. After each race, the player receives messages from some of the NPC’s that competed, depending on how the player treated them during the race regarding clean racing or using a weapon against said NPC, they would have different positive/encouraging or negative/threatening remarks for the player. The player would earn cash which could be used to buy faster motorcycles with better handling which would help evade police and the various traffic and obstacles in the way of the player throughout the race.

The gameplay of Road Rash was fun and unique for the time. The combat between the player and the NPC’s would lead the way for a very specific title to be released on the original PlayStation console with car combat at the forefront.

Twisted Metal

 

Twisted Metal, while not a racing game, focuses on vehicles – a petrol head’s heaven. Twisted Metal revolves around car combat as players pick designated characters that have designated vehicles. Each Vehicle has its strengths and weakness in regards to handling, top speed, acceleration, armor and their special weapon. The game consists of several stages in which the player must defeat all other opponents. When 50% of the matches have been completed the player will have to face a mid-boss and at the end of the final stage, face the main boss before completing the game.

The developers of Twisted Metal were able to create a unique and fun gaming experience by taking vehicles, some based on real-world counterparts, throwing out the racing elements and giving players machine guns and rocket launchers in a demolition derby environment instead of a race track. The game was set in the not too distant future which leads us to other futuristic arcade racers that were released earlier and around the same time as Twisted Metal.

Wipeout

Wipeout is a futuristic racing game with vehicles that use anti-gravity to levitate and propel themselves forward. The player pilots a ship from various teams in the game and each ship has a set of characteristics related to acceleration, top speed, mass and turning radius. During racing events, power-ups that allow the player to protect their ship or disrupt the NPC’s, litter the track that can give the player or NPC’s shields, boost, mines, shock waves, and missiles.

The setting and speed of the races are fun; however, the soundtrack to the Wipeout series of games enhances the racing in ways that were beyond imaginable at the time. The Techno/Electronica music combined with the fast-paced action of the racing created a level of excitement during the races that have yet to be matched with modern racing games. As exhilarating as Wipeout was to play, it still owed its existence to another futuristic styled racing game released back in the year 1990 on the Super Nintendo.

F-Zero

F-Zero is the pinnacle of the arcade racing genre of games; although other racers came before it, none captured the essence of fun arcade racing like F-Zero. Using a unique technique called ‘Mode 7 Scrolling’ Nintendo was able to simulate 3D environments for the game by scaling and rotating the background, this was extremely out of the box thinking as most games of the era consisted of static or flat backgrounds with 2D images.

The gameplay of F-Zero required the player to win a sprint race versus a selection of opponents while avoiding landmines, magnets that pull the player off course causing damage, and slip zones that could force the player off the track. Each vehicle has a power meter to give the player a measurement of their vehicles durability, which decreases when hazards or other vehicles collide but can be refilled on the home stretch of each track in the pit area on the track.

Each race consists of 5 laps around the track which must be completed in a successively higher position to avoid being disqualified from the race. After each lap, the player is given a moderate speed boost to help overtake opponents when the time is right. Jump plates and dash zones are built into each track to help the player with micro speed bursts during race events.

F-Zero is fast and a difficult game to play; however, that is what has cemented it as one of the greatest racing games to date. The level of skill required to fully master the game is a testament that most modern games fail to fully grasp.

It seems as though the arcade racer is in decline for the foreseeable future, as graphics processors get more powerful, most developers will want to create the ultimate simulation racer to show off raw graphical and physical performance. For the arcade racing fan, the gaming industry operates on a cycle that once racing simulations saturate the market, the arcade racer will find its path. Luckily for players, a game was released relatively recently that satisfies the appetite of those looking for fast-paced arcade fun.

Aeero

Aeero is not the fastest game, but the stylized environments, mixed with one of the best licensed soundtracks since Wipeout 3 on the original Playstation, definitely makes Aeero a fun rhythm racer. The player character is propelled along the course and must navigate the course by tracing a light beam while avoiding obstacles along the path, destroying enemies by targeting them and launching projectiles in accordance with the beat similar to the game Rez. Players who loved F-Zero and Wipeout will love Aeero due to the insane amounts of fun that Aeero is capable of producing. Aeero is an awesome game with a fantastic soundtrack that gives homage to the Wipeout and F-Zero series of games, which will have to tide players over until the market adapts and arcade racing games make a comeback.

About The Author

Christopher T
Staff Writer

I'm an old timer that started in 1988 with Tempest at the Disney arcade; in 1989 I was given an NES with Contra and Super Contra, thus sealing my fate forever. I moved onto the Genesis, followed by the original PlayStation, PC (mainly just for DOOM) and the N64. I got a launch day PS2 settling for the PlayStation family of consoles until 2015 when I renewed my interest in the PC world. Outside of gaming, custom PC water cooling and car parts are life.