Ridge Racer

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Ridge Racer
Ridge Racer series logo.svg
Genre(s)Racing
Developer(s)Namco
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Publisher(s)Namco
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Creator(s)Yozo Sakagami
Fumihiro Tanaka
Platform(s)Arcade, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Mobile phone, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, iOS
First releaseRidge Racer
October 30, 1993
Latest releaseRidge Racer Draw & Drift
October 20, 2016

Ridge Racer[a] is a racing video game series developed and published for arcade systems and home game consoles by Bandai Namco Entertainment, formerly Namco. The first game, Ridge Racer (1993), was originally released in arcades for the Namco System 22 hardware, later ported to the PlayStation two years later as a launch title. It was met with several sequels and spin-off games for multiple platforms, the latest being the iOS game Ridge Racer Draw & Drift (2016). Gameplay involves the player racing against computer-controlled opponents to be the first to finish in a race. Drifting is a core aspect of the series, and is used to keep speed while turning corners.

Ridge Racer is a spiritual successor to Sim Drive (1992), a racing simulation game met with a limited release in Japanese arcades. Originally meant as an F-1 racing game, similar to Namco's own Pole Position and Final Lap series, it was instead replaced with racing on mountain roads, a popular trend for Japanese car enthusiasts at the time. The PlayStation version was a launch title for the console and an astounding success for Namco, prompting the creation of several sequels for arcades and home platforms. After Namco merged with Bandai in 2005, the series would become exclusive to consoles and later mobile phones. Several games in the franchise were released as launch titles for consoles.

Earlier Ridge Racer games received critical acclaim for their graphics, gameplay and musical score, many citing it as a contributing factor to the success of the PlayStation in its early years. Later entries were criticized for straying too far from the source material and lack of content, with Ridge Racer Vita (2011) being listed among the worst video games ever made. The series is considered influential to the racing game genre,[1] and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Games[edit]

Release timeline
1993Ridge Racer
1994Ridge Racer 2
1995Rave Racer
Ridge Racer Revolution
1996Rage Racer
Pocket Racer
1997
1998R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
1999
2000Ridge Racer 64
Ridge Racer V
2001
2002
2003 R: Racing Evolution
2004Ridge Racers
Ridge Racer DS
2005Ridge Racer 6
Critical Velocity
2006Ridge Racer 7
Ridge Racers 2
2007
2008
2009Ridge Racer Accelerated
2010
2011Ridge Racer 3D
Ridge Racer (Vita)
2012Ridge Racer Unbounded
2013Ridge Racer Slipstream
2014
2015
2016Ridge Racer Draw & Drift
  • Ridge Racer (1993) is the first entry in the series, originally released for arcades and ran on the Namco System 22 arcade system. A PlayStation conversion was released in 1995 as a launch title for the console. Two other versions of the game were released for arcades: Ridge Racer Full Scale, which featured a replica Eunos Roadster that the player sat in to control the game, and Ridge Racer: 3-Screen Edition, which used three different monitors to provide a peripheral vision effect, similar to Namco's earlier game Driver's Eyes (1991). A Japanese mobile phone version was released in 2000.
  • Ridge Racer 2 (1994) was released for arcades, running on the Namco System 22 hardware. It serves as an update to the original game, featuring multiplayer, a rear-view mirror, and a remixed soundtrack composed by Shinji Hosoe.
  • Rave Racer (1995) was released for arcades. It features two new tracks alongside the two present in the original Ridge Racer, and had linkable arcade cabinets that allowed for up to eight-person multiplayer. Home conversions for both the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows were announced in 1996, but were later cancelled.
  • Ridge Racer Revolution (1995) was released for the PlayStation. It is a modified home release of Ridge Racer 2 with new music, additional vehicles and multiplayer via the PlayStation Link Cable peripheral.[2]
  • Rage Racer (1996) was released for the PlayStation. Alongside the introduction of series mascot Reiko Nagase, it featured customizable cars and a retries rule, both of which have become prominent throughout the franchise. It also features a more gritter and darker graphical style, a departure from the series' more colorful art style.
  • Pocket Racer (1996) is a spin-off arcade game released exclusively in Japan. Gameplay is near identical to the original Ridge Racer, however all the cars have instead been replaced with "super-deformed" Choro-Q-esc vehicles. A similar concept was included with Ridge Racer Revolution, titled Buggy Mode, which served as the inspiration for Pocket Racer.
  • R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 (1998) was released for the PlayStation, simply titled Ridge Racer Type 4 in Europe. It marks the debut of racing teams, which became a core aspect for all games to follow, and is the first in the series to use Gouraud shading for its graphics. Multiplayer modes are also present, being displayed in a split-screen orientation. In 2018, it was released as one of the built-in games on the PlayStation Classic mini console.[3]
  • Ridge Racer 64 (2000) was released for the Nintendo 64 exclusively in North America and Europe; it was also not developed by Namco, but rather Nintendo Software Technology. It includes tracks from Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, alongside brand-new tracks and cars.
  • Ridge Racer V (2000) was released as a launch title for the PlayStation 2. An arcade version was released a year later, subtitled Arcade Battle. The original Ridge Racer game's free-form structure is instead replaced with Grand Prix races found in Ridge Racer Type 4.
  • R: Racing Evolution (2003) was released for the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The European release was titled R: Racing and published by Nintendo. It includes over 33 licensed vehicles from real-world car manufacturers, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Super GT. Some releases of the GameCube version include Pac-Man Vs. as a free bonus.
  • Ridge Racer DS (2004) was released as a launch title for the Nintendo DS. A remake of Ridge Racer 64, it includes touch-screen controls that allow the player to use the stylus to steer the car, alongside online multiplayer via the now-defunct Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service.
  • Ridge Racers (2004) was released as a launch title for the PlayStation Portable, and was simply titled Ridge Racer outside Japan. It features tracks, cars and music found in earlier Ridge Racer games, leading it to being described as a "compilation" of the series. The Japanese version was re-released as a budget title a year later under the PSP The Best label.
  • Critical Velocity (2005) is a plot-based spin-off game released exclusively in Japan for the PlayStation 2. Known in development as Rune Chaser, it features Ridge Racer vehicles and settings in a more adventure-like game with a storyline.
  • Ridge Racer 6 (2005) was released as a launch title for the Xbox 360, featuring a total of 130 vehicles and 30 playable tracks, alongside 14-person online multiplayer through Xbox Live. The game's soundtrack was released through Xbox Live by SuperSweep Records in 2009, titled Ridge Racer 6 Direct Audio.
  • Ridge Racers 2 (2006) is a direct sequel to Ridge Racers, released for the PlayStation Portable — international releases rename it to Ridge Racer 2, with the European release being published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. It retains the same concept of the first game, featuring tracks, cars and music taken from earlier games in the franchise.
  • Ridge Racer 7 (2007) was released as a launch title for the PlayStation 3.
  • Pachi-slot Ridge Racer (2008) is a pachi-slot spin-off of the series, released exclusively in Japan. A digital remake was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan later the same year.
  • Pachi-slot Ridge Racer 2 (2009) is the direct sequel to Pachi-slot Ridge Racer, again released exclusively in Japan.
  • Ridge Racer Accelerated (2009) was released for iOS devices.[4]
  • Ridge Racer 3D (2011) was released as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS.[5]
  • Ridge Racer Vita (2011) was released as a launch title for the PlayStation Vita
  • Ridge Racer Unbounded (2012) was released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows. The game is a large departure from the series' core gameplay, instead focusing on vehicular combat akin to the Burnout series.[6]
  • Ridge Racer Slipstream (2013) was released for iOS and Android devices.[7]
  • Ridge Racer Draw & Drift (2016) was released for iOS devices.

Common elements[edit]

Gameplay of Ridge Racer Revolution (1995)

The basic gameplay of the Ridge Racer series has remained relatively consistent throughout each installment. The objective is to race against computer-controlled opponents to finish each track in first place — the player begins the game in last place, and have a limited number of laps around the track to complete where they can overtake opponents. Some entries have a time limit that the player must race against, with each completed lap extending the timer; if the timer reaches zero, the game ends regardless of which lap the player was on. Later entries remove the timer and instead requires the player to finish the race in a minimum-assigned place to advance to the next course.

Unlike other racing games, which usually feature closed circuits, Ridge Racer instead has races laid out on streets, beaches, cities and mountains, taking place in the fictional coastal metropolis "Ridge City" — circuit tracks are included in some entries. Nearly every entry in the series features the original tracks from Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer 2, sometimes modified to accompany for certain mechanics. Players can drift their car around corners to maintain speed, as most of the tracks were based on real-world locations that were not intended for race speeds. Ridge Racer Unbounded (2012) removes the drifting mechanic in favor of vehicular combat, similar to the Burnout franchise.

The playable cars each have their own stats and mechanics, such as a faster speed or improved drifting. Many of these are also named after older Namco video games, including Dig Dug, Xevious, NebulasRay, Rolling Thunder, Bosconian and Solvalou. The PlayStation sequel R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 introduces the concept of racing teams for the series, all being named after Dig Dug, Mappy, Pac-Man, Xevious and Galaga. Similar to Namco's own Tekken series, several games feature classic Namco arcade games as short minigames that play during loading screens, a mechanic that was later trademarked by Namco — the PlayStation home port of the original Ridge Racer features Galaxian, while Ridge Racers features New Rally-X. Completing these minigames will award the player with new tracks or cars, sometimes unlocking a full emulated version of the minigame to play.[8]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Ridge Racer 81%[9] -
Ridge Racer Revolution 79%[10] -
R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 88%[12] 88[11]
Ridge Racer 64 85%[13] -
Ridge Racer V 80%[15] 78[14]
Ridge Racer DS 64%[16] -
Ridge Racers 89%[17] -
Ridge Racer 6 70%[18] -
Ridge Racers 2 70%[19] -
Ridge Racer 7 79%[21] 78[20]
Ridge Racer Accelerated 52%[22] -
Ridge Racer 3D 75%[23] -
Ridge Racer Unbounded 69%[24] -

The original Ridge Racer was very well received by critics for its 3D graphics, audio, and the drifting mechanics. It also received an admirable port to the PlayStation, where it became one of the best selling titles in the console's early lifetime. It is also considered as playing a part in giving Sony's system an edge over rival Sega's Saturn during 1994-1995.

Its sequels during the 1990s were also highly successful, in particular Ridge Racer Type 4, often considered the series' best. Its sequel Ridge Racer V received more mediocre reviews, but the subsequent PSP title achieved very high praise. The series' 'idol' mascot Reiko Nagase, who has appeared in most games since 1995's Rave Racer, has often been rated among the most recognizable female characters in video games.

2006's Ridge Racer 7 is considered to have been the series' peak before declining in popularity - the Vita title was negatively received for various reasons, whilst the latest console game, Ridge Racer Unbounded, was marked with a departure from the drifting style and mechanics of what the series is known for, experimenting with a more destructive style similar to the Burnout series. The game was never as popular as its previous main titles and never had a Japanese release either.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Japanese: リッジレーサー Hepburn: Rijji Rēsā?

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shea, Cam (2015-06-23). "The Original Ridge Racer: A PlayStation Launch Classic - IGN". Uk.ign.com. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  2. ^ "Special Extended Play The sequel to the stunning original! Ridge Racer Revolution". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 5. Emap International Limited. April 1996. ISSN 1360-3167.
  3. ^ "Announcing PlayStation Classic's Full Lineup of 20 Games". PlayStation.Blog.
  4. ^ Buchanan, Levi (16 December 2009). "Ridge Racer Accelerated Review". IGN. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  5. ^ Bawell, Tom (10 January 2011). "Nintendo 3DS Japanese Launch Line-up". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  6. ^ Andrew Laughlin (1 April 2012). "'Ridge Racer: Unbounded' review (Xbox 360)". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  7. ^ Fahey, Mike (3 December 2013). "Ridge Racer Stops Trying To Launch Consoles". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  8. ^ Rijji Rēsā Reboryūshon (Pureisutēshon hisshouhou supesharu) リッジレーサーレボリューション (プレイステーション必勝法スペシャル) [Ridge Racer Revolution (PlayStation winning strategy special)] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Keibunsha. 1996. p. 94. ISBN 978-4-7669-2427-5.
  9. ^ "Ridge Racer for PlayStation". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 21 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Ridge Racer Revolution for PlayStation". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  11. ^ "R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  12. ^ "R4: Ridge Racer Type 4". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Ridge Racer 64 for Nintendo 64". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Ridge Racer V for PlayStation 2 Review". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Ridge Racer V for PlayStation 2". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Ridge Racer DS for Nintendo DS". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 14 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Ridge Racer for PSP". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Ridge Racer 2 for PSP". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 30 April 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Ridge Racer 2 for PSP". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 30 April 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Ridge Racer 7 for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Ridge Racer 7 for PlayStation 3". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 21 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Ridge Racer Accelerated for iOS (iPhone/iPad)". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  23. ^ "Ridge Racer 3D for 3DS". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  24. ^ "Ridge Racer Unbounded for PC". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.

External links[edit]