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Ridge Racer on the Playstation was a genre defining game - a racer that actually tried to mimic (unsuccessfully at times) a high-octane driving experience.
First released in 1994 as a port of the Namco System 22 arcade system board, which made its debut the previous year, the game was an instant success.
It was the first game for the Playstation which I owned, and I was instantly impressed with the graphics and speed of the action. Nowadays it looks rather dated, but if you squint your eyes you can see that the overall structure and movement of the graphics bears more similarity to today's modern day racers than to the pre-1993 attempts at driving games.
Playing Ridge Racer was a limited experience - it was only single player, with a couple of game modes, however, it was unlike anything that had gone before in terms of being an adrenaline fueled driving experience. No, it wasn't ultimately realistic - 200mph crashes into a barrier or sidewall would barely hinder a racers progress, and collision detection with other cars was very poor - but it brought the feel of the arcade to the home console with great success.
The game suffered from terrible pop-up, and textures were blocky and low-res but remember, this was a Playstation launch title. One cool feature of the game was the ability to remove the disk and add an audio CD during gameplay, which allowed the user to listen to their favourite tracks whist driving around.
Overall Ridge Racer was an excellent driving experience, which lead to a range of copy-cat games which were quick to jump on Namco's success. A groundbreaking title.
This was a limited racing game - for the single player and with only two courses (not counting the possible variants), of which these shared a section of the track. There are two views but notable is the lack of a rear-view mirror. Collisions with other cars were not too unforgiving, but the detection is not too developed. This is arcade checkpoint racing, where it only counts to be the winner. The racing itself, is fast and smooth, but exaggerated so that cars can drift around corners at outrageous speeds. Those whom can muster manual gears will get the most out of the cars. With advanced technique the car can be made to turn away from the corner yet come out of it facing the right way - something for show-offs!
Graphically it's decent, with cars and buildings being brightly coloured if basic. There are patches of pop-up, but they're not so much of a problem as the colour changes in the sky - the darkness does come and go quickly but during then it becomes difficult to see the corners! Audio-wise, the sound effects are limited and the commentary is cheesy, with the music not being of the type I would listen to, but I can put up with it. As the game is loaded onto the PlayStation's RAM in one go - you play a bit of Galaxian while this happens - you can then pop in a music CD of your own to listen to (albeit playback options are lacking), which is cool. I find the inital choice of four cars to be enough. Unfortunately as I did not unlock a couple early on I would have had to save over my achievements. I like this game but the difficulty lied in the darkness.