#228 Virtua Racing

Posted: 7th August 2017 by Jeroen in Games
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623th played so far

Genre: Driving
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

We see a lot of experiments with 3D in the early nineties and I vaguely remember the Virtua series being at the forefront of it. Aside from the Virtua Racing series, there were the Virtua Fighter games we discussed a few years ago. They look quite dated now, but they sure tried…

Looking at the screenshots, the differences in the animation required means that Virtua Racing looks less chunky than Virtua Fighter despite being a year older. We got Daytona USA a year later, which is as much of a touchstone now. Graphics were changing, and this is one of the places where this started.

Our Thoughts

There is a pretty standard setup for these racing games – a few laps around a track, trying to get ahead of the pack – and Virtua Racing doesn’t really do anything different there. This is one of the first that did it, and the first that made 3D seem as something that had to be here. The impact is diminished, in part because I’ve played later games that build on this, but I can see from that what makes this special.

There’s one other weird feature that stands out – rather than provide a full score, the game plays a short music clip as you pass through checkpoints. It’s an odd feature, one that really stands out when it suddenly drops in.

As for the tracks, they’re fairly varied, but can be a bit of a pixelly mess where it can be hard to figure out early where you go, which meant I set myself up to go the wrong way a few times. This would be different if I memorized the track, but I rarely get far enough to really do that.

In the end, one of the things that breaks down here is that there are timed checkpoints that means you’re unlikely to finish your laps. I can see how it’d be an arcade constraint, but for too much, it just feels like an annoying thing that gets in the way.

Final Thoughts

I do enjoy the racers of this era. There’s something not quite as complex about them, while getting past the clunkiness of earlier racers. As said, it’s a shame about the time limits, but that is a limitation of the arcade requirements. It’s possible playing another version woudl have solved me for this, but at the same time, right now I feel I could find better in other games.