Ridge Racer (video game)

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Ridge Racer
Ridge Racer Coverart.png
Developer(s) Namco
Publisher(s) Namco
Series Ridge Racer
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation, PlayStation Portable, mobile phone, Zeebo
Release date(s) Arcade
  • JP 7 October 1993
  • NA 1 January 1994[1]
  • EU 26 April 1994
  • JP 3 December 1994[2]
  • NA 9 September 1995[3]
  • EU 29 September 1995
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player
Cabinet Upright and sitdown
Arcade system Namco System 22
CPU 1x Motorola 68020 @ 24.576 MHz,
2x Texas Instruments TMS32025 @ 49.152 MHz
Sound 1x C352 @ 16.384 MHz
Display Horizontal orientation, Raster, 640 x 480 resolution, 32768 palette 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. Ridge Racer was among the first racing games to utilise polygon graphics to its full potential. The PlayStation version supports the use of Namco's NeGcon controller.

The first home version of Ridge Racer was released in Japan in 1994 as a launch title for the original Sony PlayStation console; the versions for North America and Europe were released in 1995. The game was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation The Best range on 12 July 1997, and for the Greatest Hits and Platinum ranges in North America and PAL regions respectively the same year. 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, and was seen as a rival to Sega's Daytona USA.

After release, Ridge Racer received a positive reception. Reviewers praised the graphics, audio, drifting mechanics, and arcade-like gameplay, but later criticized the lack of strong artificial intelligence. The arcade version was followed by a sequel, Ridge Racer 2, in 1994, whereas the PlayStation sequel, Ridge Racer Revolution, was released on 3 December 1995 in Japan, and in 1996 in North America and PAL regions.


Screenshot of a race in progress, PlayStation version

In the PlayStation version, the player can play a mini-game of Galaxian as the game loads. If the player wins before the game loads, eight extra cars become available to drive in the game.[6](p50) The twelve cars are varied in their specifications, with some having a high top speed, some have a high acceleration, some excelling at turning, and others falling in-between. Some of the cars are named after other Namco games such as Solvalou, Mappy, Bosconian, Nebulasray, and Xevious.[6](pp84–90)[7](pp50–51)[8] Once the game has loaded, all the CD is needed for afterwards is to play six instrumental music tracks. The player can replace the disc at any time during gameplay, although the game does not update to reflect the switch; no matter what disc is inserted, there will always be six tracks to choose from, corresponding the starting points of the six tracks on the game disc.[6](p10)[8]

After launching the game, the player can choose a course, transmission (automatic or six-speed manual),[9] car and song. Each course has varying difficulty. There are two modes in the game: Race, which is played against eleven 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).[10] Namco's NeGcon controller can be used to play the game.[11](p3)

Being an arcade racer, collisions do no damage to the car, and merely slow the player down. There is also a time limit, which ends the game if it counts down to zero, though there are checkpoints throughout the track that give the player additional time when passed through.[6](p2)[7](p4)[11](p1) Each race consists of three laps (two on the beginner course).[6](pp18,24,30,40)[11](p5)

The game consists of four races; Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Time Trial (in the latter two, the track is extended).[12] The higher the difficulty level, the faster the cars run.[6](pp18,24,30,40)[12] In the PlayStation version, after the player wins all the races, extra courses become available. These extra courses are the same, but reversed. The Time Trial race mode becomes a three-car battle. The third car is the Devil 13th Racing car.[10] If the player wins this race, the car becomes available to drive. In the arcade version, after finishing the game, the winning player's score is saved in action-replay highlights.[8][9]

The PlayStation version also has hidden "mirror" version of the tracks. The track becomes a "mirror image" of itself; left turns become right turns and vice-versa, and the surroundings switch sides of the road.[7](p56)[8]

Development and release[edit]

At JAMMA's 1992 AM (Amusement Machines) show in Japan, held during 27–19 August 1992,[13] Namco debuted a racing game called Sim Drive,[13][14] for the then new Namco System 22 arcade system board.[14] The game was a sequel to Eunos Roadster Driving Simulator, a Mazda MX-5 driving simulation arcade game that Namco developed with Mazda and released in 1990.[15] Its 3D polygon graphics stood out for its use of Gouraud shading and texture mapping.[16] After a location test at the show,[14] where it was previewed by the November 1992 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly,[13] Sim Drive had a limited Japanese release in December 1992, but did not get a mass-market release.[14] It served as a prototype for Ridge Racer.[14]

Ridge Racer had a development cycle of eight months.[17] 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 essentially had to be done from scratch, and so took nearly as long as the arcade version to develop, being completed in November 1994.[17] The PlayStation port was developed by the same team as the arcade version. Due to technical limitations, the PlayStation port was difficult to program and runs at a lower resolution, lower framerate (30 frames per second for NTSC, 25 for PAL), and was less detailed than the arcade original. The game's visual director Yozo Sakagami remarked that the hardest element of the game to port was the experience of driving a car.[18]

During release for arcade system board, Ridge Racer was called by Namco "the most realistic driving game ever".[19] The game featured three-dimensional polygon graphics with texture mapping and various types of terrain.[19] 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.[20] Ridge Racer was released in North America on 8 September 1995 as one of eight launch titles for the PlayStation.[21]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 81% (PS1)[22]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4/5 stars (PS1)[23]
CVG 80% (ARC)[24]
Dragon 2/5 stars (PS1)[25]
Edge 9/10 (PS1)[26]
EGM 17.5/20 (PS1)[27]
18/20 (PS1)[28]
Famitsu 37/40 (PS1)[29][30]
Game Informer 8.75/10 (PS1)[33]
GamePro 5/5 (PS1)[31][32]
IGN 7.5/10 (PS1)[34]
Famitsu PS 36/40 (PS1)[35]
Maximum 4/5 stars (PS1)[36]
Coming Soon Magazine 4.5/5 stars (PS1)[37]
Publication Award
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Driving Game (1995)[38]

Ridge Racer received positive reviews. 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%.[24]

In a review of its Japanese console release, 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. Although they criticized that the game suffers from graphical glitches and slowdown, though they gave it an overall recommendation.[31] Their review of the later North American release judged that the game surpassed competitor Daytona USA in graphics, audio, and control responsiveness, and called it "The best racing game to date for home systems".[32]

The game was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon No. 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.[25] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it scores of 9 and 8.5 out of 10, praising the gameplay and music.[27] Maximum commented that "Ridge Racer isn't without its bad points - basically, there is only one track and the game lacks the awesome crash sequences of Daytona USA, but everything else in the title is sheer class." [emphasis in original] They commented positively on the "feeling of smoothness and speed", the "distinctly European" dance music, the engine sounds, and the unrealistically exaggerated driving maneuvers.[36]

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, they complained that "there is no two-player mode" and that "the cars don't really vary in performance that much".[34]

Despite the positive reviews of the game, the game 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.[10] 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."[23]

Ridge Racer was awarded Best Driving Game of 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[38] It was later listed as one of the best games of all time by Game Informer in 2001,[39] Yahoo in 2005,[40] Electronic Gaming Monthly in 2006,[41] Guinness World Records in 2008[42] and 2009,[43] NowGamer in 2010,[44] and FHM in 2012.[45] Coming Soon Magazine praised its "ultra fluid and very realistic" graphics, but criticised the game for being too short.[37]


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".[46] 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".[20] John Davison of 1UP.com said that Ridge Racer was an "unbelievable demonstration of what the PlayStation could do."[10]

Ridge Racer is also mentioned in the song My Console (1999) from the Italian electronic dance group Eiffel 65.[47]

Other releases[edit]

The PlayStation version of Ridge Racer re-released for The Best, Greatest Hits, and Platinum ranges in 1997.[2] Ridge Racer also received a number of ports and spin-offs:

Ridge Racer Full Scale[edit]

Ridge Racer Full Scale

A Full Scale arcade version of Ridge Racer was released alongside the standard arcade version in 1993. This version was designed to give the player a more realistic driving experience. Players (a passenger could sit in the car next to the driver) sat inside an adapted red Eunos Roadster,[48] 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.[15]

Ridge Racer: 3 Screen Edition[edit]

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.[14]

Pocket Racer[edit]

Pocket Racer.

Pocket Racer (ポケットレーサー Poketto Rēsā?) is a super deformed version of Ridge Racer with cars that resemble Choro-Q model cars. It was released in 1996 in Japan. The game was only available in upright cabinet version, and uses Namco System 11 hardware.[49] A similar game is included in Ridge Racer Revolution using the same cars under the name Pretty Racer.[50][51][52]

Ridge Racer Turbo[edit]

R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 (released on 3 December 1998 in Japan,[53] 1 May 1999 in North America,[54] and on 1 September 1999 in Europe[55]) includes a bonus disc containing a new version of the original Ridge Racer, called Ridge Racer Turbo in North America, Ridge Racer Hi-Spec Demo in Europe,[56] and Ridge Racer Hi Spec Version (リッジレーサーハイスペックバージョン Rijji Rēsā Hai Supekku Bājon?) in Japan.[57] It featured improved graphics, runs at 60 frames per second (50 for PAL), as opposed to the original 30, and supports vibration feedback.[58][59] There is only 1 opponent (2 in time trial duel races), and the White Angel car from Ridge Racer Revolution appears alongside the 13th Racing in this version of the game as a boss and unlockable car.[60]

Mobile versions[edit]

On 31 December 2005, a version of the game for mobile phones was released.[61][62] 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 the steering, saying that "it doesn't take long to master the game."[63] 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".[61] Also in 2005, a version of Ridge Racer was released for mobile phones under the name Ridge Racer 3D[64][65] (not to be confused with the later Ridge Racer 3D for the Nintendo 3DS). On 11 August 2009, this version of the game was ported to Zeebo.[66][67]


The arcade sequel, Ridge Racer 2, was released in 1994,[68] and the PlayStation sequel, Ridge Racer Revolution, was released in 1995 in Japan,[69] and in 1996 in North America and PAL regions.[70]


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External links[edit]