Category Archives: Ridge Racer

Ridge Racers: The Greatest Hits

I wasn’t originally planning to cover the PSP titles in the Ridge Racer series, but after being well and truly glued to them for the last week there’s no way I can’t say something about them.

Known as Ridge Racers in Japan, the two PSP games are almost identical to one another, so we’ll be taking them as a single “unit” today. The main difference between the two releases is that the confusingly named Ridge Racer 2 has more tracks than its PSP-launching predecessor — most notably incorporating all of Ridge Racer Type 4’s circuits instead of just two — plus a few additional single-player modes, including the return of a “checkpoints and countdown”-style arcade mode of the type that hasn’t been seen since Ridge Racer Revolution.

Other than that, they’re pretty much the same game. It’s fortunate, then, that they’re pretty much the same brilliant game.

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Ridge Racer Unbounded: The Black Sheep

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a lot of series attempt to “reboot” themselves for one reason or another.

In many cases, this is an excuse to go back to older games and remake them with a more modern aesthetic or gameplay conventions, but in others, it is in an attempt to completely reinvent the series for one reason or another — usually as an attempt to respond to the ever-present phantom that is “market forces”.

The Ridge Racer series underwent such a reboot in 2012 with Unbounded. Not only was this an attempt to turn the ageing franchise on its head, it marked a shift in development strategy, too; Unbounded was developed not by Namco itself, but by Bugbear Entertainment, a Finnish outfit who had previously been responsible for the FlatOut series and Sega Rally Revo on the PSP.

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Ridge Racer 7: The New “Revolution”

Almost exactly a year after its previous installment, Ridge Racer got another mainline entry — a title which marked the franchise’s return to Sony platforms after its temporary dalliance with Microsoft.

Ridge Racer 7 was an exclusive title for Sony’s new PlayStation 3 platform — and in keeping with series tradition, it was a launch title, too — but it represented a less radical reinvention of the series than some of the previous games. In fact, those who played Ridge Racer 6 might find an awful lot of it quite familiar.

Ridge Racer 7, you see, is largely a reinvention of Ridge Racer 6, similar to how Ridge Racer Revolution was a reinvention of the original game. But that doesn’t make it a game you should pass up. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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Ridge Racer 6: PlayStation Who?

It was a good five years between Ridge Racer V helping to launch the PlayStation 2 and the next mainline numbered installment in the series.

In the intervening years we had a couple of spinoff games that are a little beyond the scope of what we have time to cover this month: in 2003, there was series outlier R: Racing Evolution, the only installment to feature licensed cars and thus a game some don’t consider to be a Ridge Racer at all, and 2004 gave us a well-received title for PSP that, in true Ridge Racer tradition, helped to demonstrate what a new Sony platform was capable of at launch.

It was 2005 before the next “true” sequel, however, and once again the series helped to launch a console. This time, however, it wasn’t a showcase game for a Sony platform; it instead formed part of the launch lineup for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the first of the high-definition consoles to hit the market.

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Ridge Racer V: Back to Basics

Ridge Racer V was an important game for Namco.

Not only was it to be a follow-up to the incredibly well-received and popular Ridge Racer Type 4it would also be the first installment of the series on a new generation of consoles — and a launch title for that system, the PlayStation 2, to boot.

Expectations were high for the new game to be both an impressive showcase for the new format and another solid installment in what was, by now, a well-loved and much-respected arcade racing franchise. The reality didn’t quite match up to these expectations… but it was certainly a damn good effort.

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Ridge Racer Type 4: Real Racing Roots ’99

1998’s Ridge Racer Type 4 is the quintessential PS1 game.

Perfectly embodying the spirit of late ’90s “cool” that Sony was so keen to pursue with its platform, particularly in the West, the game is also a showcase for exactly what the humble PlayStation was capable of in its later years as well as a perfect balance between widespread accessibility and hardcore long-term challenge.

In short, it’s a comprehensive realisation of what Namco had wanted to achieve with the home versions of the Ridge Racer series ever since Revolution, and one of the most consistently enjoyable arcade racers ever created.

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Rage Racer: Point of Divergence

While the arcade installment Ridge Racer 2 and its home conversion of sorts Ridge Racer Revolution went in slightly different directions, it was the third “generation” of Ridge Racer games where the two approaches finally diverged completely.

1995’s third arcade installment Rave Racer again acted as more of an evolution from the previous games, featuring more detailed graphics and a couple of new tracks as well as the circuits from the original Ridge Racer. Notably, it was also the first Ridge Racer game to put a strong emphasis on a female “mascot” character in its epilepsy-inducing attract mode; some conjecture this is actually the first appearance of longtime series “image girl” Reiko Nagase, though the hotpants-clad polygonal model doesn’t look a lot like how we came to know and love her in later installments.

1996’s Rage Racer, meanwhile, was a complete reinvention for home systems, featuring an actual single-player “campaign” of sorts to work through, with gradual progression and car upgrades as well as the abandoning of arcade game conventions such as tight time limits and checkpoints with which to extend it. The immediacy was still there, but now the game wanted to keep you in your seat for more than five minutes at a time.

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