Ridge Racer (video game)
Cover art of Ridge Racer
|Genre(s)||Racing video game|
|Arcade system||Namco System 22|
|Display||Raster, 640 x 480 pixels (Horizontal), 32768 colors|
Ridge Racer (リッジレーサー Rijji Rēsā?) is a 1993 racing video game created by Namco. It was initially released on the Namco System 22 arcade system board, and was later ported to the PlayStation console. It is the first title in the long-running Ridge Racer series of games released for arcades and home systems. In the game, the player assumes the role of a car driver and competes with other computer-controlled cars.
The first home version of Ridge Racer was released in Japan in 1994 as a launch title for the original Sony PlayStation console; the version for North America and Europe was released in 1995. The game played a major role in establishing the new system and in giving it an early edge over its nearest competitor, the Sega Saturn.
After release, Ridge Racer received a positive reception. Most reviewers praised the graphics, audio, and arcade-like gameplay, but later criticized the lack of strong artificial intelligence.
After launching the game, the player can choose a course, transmission (automatic or six-speed manual), car and song. Each course has varying difficulty. There are two modes in the game: Race, which is played against 11 other cars; and Time Trial, in which only one opponent is given. During the race, the player can observe the racetrack from the first-person perspective (or from the third-person perspective for the PlayStation version).
The game consists of 4 race course modes, which are Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Time Trial. The Novice and the Intermediate consist of racing on the same circuit. The higher the difficulty level, the faster cars run. The game contains unlimited restarts, and the player can restart during a race at any time. After the player wins all the race modes, the player has to go to the Time Trial race mode which turns into a three-car battle. The player has to face the final boss—the Devil 13th Racing car (which is available only in the PlayStation version). This car is very fast and difficult to beat. To win, the player must learn the perfect racing line of the track. In the arcade version, after finishing the game, the winning player's score is saved in action-replay highlights.
As the player progresses through the game, extra courses will be given. The player will be racing on the same tracks but in reverse directions. The extra tracks lack one checkpoint and therefore the player is at a higher risk of running out of time, making the game more difficult. If the player obtains the Devil car before playing the extra courses, it can be used to race in all the courses including extra courses in order to complete the game.
A special 'mirror mode' version of the track can be played by turning the car around on the starting line and driving into the wall behind at top speed. The car will pass through the wall and the track will revert to the mirror of the normal track.
For the PlayStation version, once the game has loaded, all the CD is needed for afterwards is to play 6 instrumental music tracks. The box encourages the player to race along to their own audio CDs by simply replacing the disc at any time during gameplay. However, the game does not update to reflect the switch: No matter what disc is inserted, there will still be 6 tracks to choose from, corresponding the starting points of the 6 tracks on the game disc.
Development and release
Ridge Racer had a development cycle of eight months. Development for the PlayStation version began in April 1994. Because of the radical differences between the Namco System 22 board and the PlayStation, the PlayStation version had to essentially be done from scratch, and so took nearly as long as the arcade version to develop, being completed in November 1994.
During release for arcade system board, Ridge Racer was called by Namco "the most realistic driving game ever". The game featured three-dimensional polygon graphics with texture mapping and various types of terrain. The game in the PlayStation version was shown at the 1995 Electronic Entertainment Expo event, and it was an innovation in the use of three-dimensional polygons. Ridge Racer was released in North America on September 8, 1995 as one of eight launch titles for the PlayStation.
Ridge Racer received mostly positive reviews. GamePro called the PlayStation version "a near carbon copy of the original" and praised the graphics, soundtrack, and the fact that the entire game is loaded into the PlayStation's RAM, thus eliminating mid-game loading and giving players the option of removing the game disc and using the PlayStation as a music CD player while playing the game. However, they criticized that the game suffers from graphical glitches and slowdown, though they gave it an overall recommendation. The game was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon #221 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Jay did not rate the game, but Dee gave it 2 out of 5 stars. In 1996, IGN gave Ridge Racer 7.5/10, saying that despite two years of release the game "has definitely stood the test of time". However, IGN complained that "there is no two-player mode" and that "the cars don't really vary in performance that much". In the April 1994 issue of the UK magazine Computer and Video Games, the arcade machine (based on the full-scale unit) was rated 80% overall by writer Paul Rand. Graphics received 97%, sound 95%, and gameplay 80%.
Despite the positive reviews of the game, it was later criticized by 1UP.com for the arcade style of gameplay. The lack of artificial intelligence has also received criticism—the movement of the computer-controlled cars is restricted to predetermined waypoints. AllGame's Shawn Sackenheim praised the game, particularly the graphics and audio, and concluded that it "is a fun title that racing fans [...] will love."
Ridge Racer has been followed by many sequels and helped establish the position of the PlayStation console. IGN stated that Ridge Racer had been "one of PlayStation's first big system pushers" and "an excellent port of the arcade version that showed the true potential of Sony's 32-bit wonder". UGO Networks's Michael Hess and Chris Plante said that the game had "set the stage for Gran Turismo by adding an option to choose between automatic and manual transmission". John Davison of 1UP.com said that Ridge Racer was an "unbelievable demonstration of what the PlayStation could do."
Ridge Racer Full Scale
A Full Scale arcade version of Ridge Racer was released alongside the standard arcade version in 1993. Players sat inside an adapted red Eunos Roadster, the Japanese right-hand-drive version of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and controlled the same car on-screen. The game was played in front of a 10 ft/3 m-wide, front-projected triple screen (which benefited from dimmed ambient lighting), with the car's wheel, gear stick and pedals functioning as the game's controls. The ignition key was used to start the game, the speed and RPM gauges were fully functional, and fans blew wind on the player from inside the air vents. Speakers concealed inside the car provided realistic engine and tire sounds, while overhead speakers provided surround music. In almost all locations, an operator stood by a console, to collect payment and control the operation. The game's P.C.B. was located under the hood of the car.
The steering wheel could be re-linked to the rack and pinion steering of the car, making it easier to move.
Ridge Racer: 3 Screen Edition
A version of Ridge Racer with 3 screens was also released in the arcades to give a peripheral vision effect. The machine used multiple System 22 arcade boards to drive the additional monitors and was only available in the sit down version.
A super deformed version of Ridge Racer with cars look like Choro-Q model cars. The game was only available in upright cabinet version, and has ported to Ridge Racer Revolution under the name Buggy Mode.
Ridge Racer Turbo
R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 includes a bonus disc containing a new version of the original Ridge Racer, called Ridge Racer Turbo (known in Europe as Ridge Racer Hi-Spec Demo). It featured improved graphics, runs at 60 frames per second, as opposed to the original 30, and supports vibration feedback.
On December 31, 2005, a version of the game for mobile phones was released. It received mixed reviews. GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann gave the game 6.1/10. He praised graphics as "somewhat impressive for a mobile game", but he criticized too easy steering, saying that "it doesn't take long to master the game." Levi Buchanan of IGN gave Ridge Racer 6.2/10, complaining about the problematic controls and saying that the game without the analog control "feels really lacking".
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