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.
Continue reading Ridge Racer 6: PlayStation Who?
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 4, it 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.
Continue reading Ridge Racer V: Back to Basics
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.
Continue reading Ridge Racer Type 4: Real Racing Roots ’99
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.
Continue reading Rage Racer: Point of Divergence
After the success and critical acclaim of Ridge Racer, it was only natural for Namco to want to build on the series.
It went about this in a number of ways, including a three-screen arcade release for a more immersive experience as well as a spectacular “Full Scale” variant in which you sat in an actual car (a Mazda Eunos Roadster, to be specific, in a pleasing callback to Ridge Racer prototype Sim Drive’s predecessor) to play a version of the game on a massive projection screen with real car controls, functional instruments and fans blowing wind in your face.
A sequel was inevitable. Ridge Racer 2 followed its predecessor a year later, featuring new tracks, new music and the facility for up to eight people to play simultaneously by networking four two-player cabinets. This was then followed in 1995 by a home port in the form of Ridge Racer Revolution for PlayStation.
Continue reading Ridge Racer Revolution: The One That Would Probably Be DLC Today
Namco’s Ridge Racer may have declined somewhat in terms of popularity and relevance at the time of writing, but there’s little denying that during its heyday, this series was one of the most important franchises in gaming.
Most notably playing a significant role in solidifying the PlayStation’s position as the leading console of the 32-bit era in particular, the Ridge Racer series remains for many the benchmark to which all 3D arcade racers — a sadly dying breed — should be compared.
So where did this all start?
Continue reading Ridge Racer: Where it All Began