Rage Racer

Rage Racer

After all this time, Rage Racer lives up to its legacy; it’s fast, it’s arcade-style racing, and loaded with snazzy if twitchy graphics with the usual funky Namco music team soundtrack.

Jewel Case Release – 2 Ring

Genre:
Racing
CDs: 1
(?? Megs)
Players:
1 Player
ESRB: Kids to Adults
No Descriptors
Publisher:
Namco
Retail Barcode:
7 22674 02066 4
Memory:
1 Block
Developer:
Namco
Sony ID:
SLUS-00403
Accessories:
neGcon
Released:
May 14, 1997
PSRM:
006630

Rage Racer shatters the standards of PlayStation racing, and has industry insiders scurrying to their Thesaurus’ for new speed descriptors. This is a whole new engine, chassis and shocks; shocks coming, of course, at the expense of your central nervous system. But enough hype. You’ve got to play this bad-boy to believe it. Then you’ll see why Game Fan insists, “you must obtain Rage Racer as soon as humanly possible.

  • The definitive street-racer. New from the radials up; 13 brand new cars, 4 big new tracks, plus an 11 circuit challenge.
  • Win races and save prize money to modify your car or purchase a new racer.
  • Customize your ride. Design team logos, alter car paint schemes and improve tire traction.
  • Save best times, customized cars and game data to memory cards.
  • Must-see cinematics and track scenery; nothing has ever looked this good at 150 mph.
  • Breathtaking hills and narrow hairpin turns put a premium on shifting, drafting and sliding skills.
  • Compatible with the neGcon analog controller.

Review

There comes a time in all game series when a change is needed. Without question, that always seems to be the third game in the set. For some reason, developers believe that the third time is the charm for changing things up and really trying to refresh the series. Many times, it fails (Mortal Kombat 3) and other times it’s really good (Crash Bandicoot 3). With Rage Racer, Namco took their arcade racing legacy and snuck in just enough simulation bells & whistles to create an all new, but more importantly, refreshing entry in the series.

First a bit of backstory – the console Ridge Racer games vary from their arcade counterparts, existing more as alternate takes on the idea. While the original Ridge Racer and it’s follow-up, Revolution have close ties to their quarter crunching brethren, Rage Racer was a complete separation from what should have been a spiritual successor to the arcade game Rave Racer. This was a brilliant decision on Namco’s part, as it laid the foundation for the eventual phenom known as R4: Ridge Racer 4.

Here in Rage, drivers have access to just one car at the start, the lowly Gnade Esperanza. From there players will need to race the 4 variant courses until enough money is earned to purchase new cars and eventually tune them up for better improvements. This cash-and-carry method of snagging cars was new to the series, and finally provided a reason to constantly replay the same tracks over again. The tune-ups come in the form of classes, which tie in with the GP Classes. Each tune up improves 4 areas of the car; acceleration, max speed, handling, and grip. This makes for some interesting car choices – one could essentially have a smoother ride driving a souped up version of an older car than they could a brand new one.

Multiple fictitious car manufactures join the fray, so there’s a healthy selection of 4 wheeled chariots. Everything from a sedan, to a pick up truck, to an imitation Lamborghini are available on the showroom floor. Price points for the vehicles and their respective tune-ups jump exponentially between classes, so ensuring there’s a healthy stream of income from racing is a must.

Along side the tune-ups is another newcomer to the series – actual visual customization. Gamers can create their own Team name, which displays on the windshield, along with creating a team logo. This can be scratch designed or by easily manipulating a pre-made one. Besides appearing on the cars, creative folk will also view their logos on random billboards. As a bit of trivia, an editor of GameFan magazine had their design featured on the back of the retail packaging.

Once the chosen ride is ready for its spotlight, the courses finally come into play. Like previous Ridge Racer games, Ridge City’s newest locale is essentially a hub, which is then remixed 3 different ways providing 4 total tracks. These 4 tracks are then re-used through all 5 GPs, and when Extra GP is unlocked, are repeated again, but in reverse.

As is the norm, Rage Racer’s graphics are excellent but this time with a regretful visual tick which we’ll get into in a second. The newest locale features the typical yellow lighted tunnels and starting line building, but now the world opens up with beautiful seaside strutures, overpasses with visible opponents, ancient temples, and of course, wonderful in-jokes. If a player slows down just long enough to read them, they can spot other Namco titles posing as highway destinations on the overhead green signs, while then modern day gamers were treated to billboard ads for Soul Blade, Time Crisis, and the Guncon.

The aforementioned visual tick comes in the form of the world not being 100% connected to itself. Too often there is a visible gap between textures, so rather than see a solid brown mountain side, there will be a mountain side that looks like it suffered paper cuts. If upscaling to a higher resolution, especially HDMI, these minor hiccups become glaringly obvious. Thankfully gamers will be too busy avoiding rival cars to pay too much attention to that issue.

Speaking of rivals, the game’s only other real flaw storms in around GP Class 4, thanks to an unthinkable difficulty spike. Even if players aren’t all that great with a power slide, several easy re-attempts will usually follow through with 1st Place finishes. Once drivers hit the 2nd race in Class 4 though, unless precision handling or driving stick is their speciality, a long, long road of continues lay ahead.

This sacrifice in time is not in vain. Once Extra GP mode is unlocked, gamers essentially double the tracks, and then claiming a 100% Gold 1st place finishes across the board reveals a  hidden 6th GP, where psychotic speeds and 3 exclusive cars wait.

After all this time, Rage Racer lives up to its legacy; it’s fast, it’s arcade-style racing, and snazzy if twitchy graphics with the usual funky Namco music team soundtrack. If one can forgive the difficulty spike, and the sometimes forced replay to rack up spending money, Rage Racer is still a fantastic entry into anyone’s gaming library.

 

Media

YouTube

Screenshots

Magazine Ads

There are no Ads for this game yet.

Variants

  • There are no known Variants for this game.

Trivia

  • The neGcon icon on the back of the case uses the European Part number.
  • Rage Racer is the only console released Ridge Racer game that does not use “Ridge” in the title.
  • Your hood decoration has a secondary function – whatever you design there will also appear on various in-game billboards.
  • Besides bumping into each other, you’ll occasionally see CPU cars bump into each other, especially if you’re in the middle of them.
  • The game’s back insert cites there are “11 Circuits” to race. This breaks down into Class 1 through 5 Forward, the same 5 reversed, and then the mythical 6 Class.
  • If you snag a Gold Trophy in all first 5 Classes (Meaning a Gold for the entire circuit), you’ll unlock a hidden 12th song in the music player.

The Verdict

7.5Solid

The Good: Excellent, if glitchy graphics | Great soundtrack | Lots of unlockables

The Bad: Difficulty curve hits hard late in the game | Certain cars are only Manual Transmission


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