Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer

Namco's launch day racer is still the one to beat.

Genre:
Arcade / Racing
CDs: 1
(387 Megs)
Players:
1 Player
ESRB: Kids to Adult
No Descriptors
Publisher:
Namco / Sony
Retail Barcode:
7 11719 43002 5
Memory:
1  Block
Developer:
Namco
Sony ID:
SCUS-94300
Accessories:
None
Released:
September 9, 1995
PSRM:
001020

You’re holding the fastest racing game in history.

You want to drive fast? Really Fast? Nothing provides the adrenaline charged rush of speed like Ridge Racer. State-of-the-art features, amazing control, neck-snapping acceleration and true-to-the road realism make this the only racing game you’ll ever need. Ever. And please, always wear a helmet.

Before Kaz Hirai made the name infamous with his ill-fated E3 speech, Ridge Racer was a cornerstone in the building of PlayStation’s legacy. It was not only an amazing launch title, but proved that arcade games could finally come home quickly and eventually be even better than the original.

With Ridge Racer, it was essentially a test against time. An issue of Die Hard Game Fan reported that Ridge Racer only took 6 months to convert over from the original arcade version. Now this wasn’t to say it was 100% perfect – there were minor changes to the game, both additions and subtractions, but the core game itself was intact. With the minor adjustments in place, the game player now had the absolute fastest racing game ever seen at the time, with beautiful control and a damn near impossible hidden boss character to boot.

We’ll get the negatives out of the way first – missing from the arcade is the opening intro, the pit guy running stage left, and certain aspects of the name entry and stage select screen. The positive changes are the Stage Select screen looks much better with 3D stage previews, and the announcer now celebrates fast lap times on the replay screen rather than a blank one.

That aside, when you finally get to the green light, Ridge Racer is nothing but speed, more speed, and power slides. There essentially is 1 track with a variant area, and then reversed mirror versions. All total there are 8 races you need to perform, and each one gets faster than the last. After 3 regular stages, the 4th and final race is a time trail in which you must beat the Diablo car. This little bastard is the fastest, meanest, and most sarcastic racecar in the history of games. It’s the only enemy AI I know of that will actually pull aside and let you take over the lead, just to pass you again.

The game’s graphics did take a hit from the arcade, but not by much. The arcade game runs at twice the resolution and frame rate as the PSX version, so there would be some obvious differences. Once you remember that this was a launch game, and how much better it was than it’s rivals (Daytona, Crash N’ Burn, etc), the drop in visuals is no longer an issue. Besides, during the later races, everything is flying by too fast to even judge it.

Oddly enough, Ridge Racer’s soundtrack still rocks. A very eclectic mixture of pop, techno and rock tracks with a dab of bizarre all pump your speakers while a crazy talking announcer compliments your every smooth move and time victories.

Control is dead on, and for once the little graphs they show you actually match up to the in-game performance. High Handling will get you cars that snap on a dime, while the maxed out speed performers damn near fly off the occasional speed bump in the road.

Fifteen years later, and I still love playing Ridge Racer. While it does look a bit garbled in 1080p on a PS3 (what 15 year old game wouldn’t?) there is no denying it’s speed, it’s white knuckle boss character, and how proudly it brought true at-home arcade experiences kicking and screaming into the 32-Bit era.
Launch games always have a special place in gamers’ hearts. Many still play Super Mario Bros., more are still playing Halo. For me, there’s no better place than living on the Ridge.

There are no Ads for this game yet.

Not For Resale Variant, Included with System.
Jewel Case Variant, still under Sony’s publishing.
Greatest Hits Variant, returns to Namco’s publishing stable. Note the SLUS and Barcode updates.

 

  • The original arcade game was a sit down model.
  • Ridge Racer is somewhat of a red-headed step-child in terms of ownership. Sony provided the publishing duties early on, but when the game was released as a Greatest Hits, it was back in Namco’s stable.
  • During the initial boot sequence, you can play a single round of Galaga. If you destroy all the enemies before they fly away, you’ll unlock all but the last car in the selection screen.
  • Ridge Racer started a sad trend for Namco. After a gorgeous entry point for the PlayStation and 3 amazing sequels, the series has become nothing more than launch fodder for each new system. Even the 3DS has a launch day Ridge Racer coming. It is this fan boy’s utmost hope and desire that one day it can return the height of it’s popularity during the Rage Racer / R4 era.
  • There’s a way to spin around and break through the starting area wall, essentially racing the track backwards before you can actually race it backwards.
  • The only game to load the entire data track sans music into the system’s RAM. You can actually toss any music CD into the deck and the PSX will automatically select certain tracks to use for each song section.
  • One of the few games that will play ‘perfectly’ in the defunct Bleemcast Beta for the Dreamcast with one small hitch – it runs at about half speed.
  • Having a sense of humor, your final challenge is against the Black Diablo car. The joke here is that the AI will actually give you a second chance during the race. If you are not in first place when entering the 2nd lap, the Diablo will pull over to a hidden spot on the left side of the track, and allow you to pass him into first. He’ll then take off in a mad chase for the remainder of the race. It’s about as white knuckle as sarcasm gets.
  • Barring Working Design variants and Greatest Hit / Collector Editions obvious needed changes, Ridge Racer is one of the few PSone games to have it’s disc artwork completely changed from the original version. The small jewel case version has a full color image over the original monochromatic launch disc. Another case is the ESPN / ESPN 2 Xtreme Games makeover into 1xtreme.
  • For those looking for a bit of goofy fun, there are GameShark codes that allow you to map out the perfect rank for each category (Speed, Control, etc). If you choose the maxed out control, your car will quite literally turn on a dime. If you apply this with the Max Speed code, you become a maniacal 4 wheeled bullet.
  • Your rival is actually the Yellow Car – if you play as the Yellow Car, another is turned to your rival.

The Verdict

8Great

The Good: Almost Perfect Control | FAST

The Bad: Not 100% Arcade Exact | Essentially just 1 track.