Driving simulators and racing games have long been a popular choice in the video game industry, both in arcades and on home consoles. One of the most long-running and influential series celebrated 25 years earlier this year – do you know which one that is?
Ridge Racer sped into arcades for the first time in Japan in October of 1993, and was followed by a North American release in December of that year. The game allowed players to choose a course and a car, as well as a song to play for the soundtrack. Though pretty straightforward for an arcade racing title – the player must race against other CPU-controlled cars and finish high, while also finishing in a set amount of time – Ridge Racer stood out by introducing drifting mechanics, which was unusual for racers at the time.
The game was developed by Namco, which used their previous game Sim Drive (which had a very limited release in Japan in 1992) as essentially their prototype for Ridge Racer. The game spent about eight months in development, and was originally going to be a Formula 1 racing game before shifting to match Japanese car enthusiast trends at the time.
The original arcade release of Ridge Racer received huge critical acclaim, with the graphics and sound seeing specific recognition. At the time, it was considered one of the most realistic arcade games available. A port of the game for the original PlayStation released in 1994; this release actually had to be built almost entirely from scratch in order for it to run effectively on the home console’s hardware, though it too saw positive reception when it debuted as a launch title for the PS1 in 1994.
Ridge Racer has since gone on to be one of the most successful and influential racing series of all time. Since 1993, it has included four arcade games, 11 console releases, and nine mobile/portable titles.