Remembering classic games: Ridge Racer (1993) | Top Gear
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Remembering classic games: Ridge Racer (1993)

Brightly coloured 3D polygons, silky smooth motion and... tyre-torturing slides

Published: 24 Mar 2023

Careening into arcades in 1993, Ridge Racer had everything: brightly coloured 3D polygons, silky smooth motion and at least one bona fide ridge on which to race. Usually found parked cheek by jowl with Sega’s Daytona USA machine, these two spectacular racing games vied for your precious pocket money throughout the Nineties.

Of the two, Ridge Racer was arguably the more shallow experience, with a more simplistic handling model and, at least in this first incarnation, no multiplayer. If you were a 10-year-old who could barely reach the pedals in the arcade cabinet though, this meant it was far easier to pick up and play. A mere stab of the brake pedal and yank of the wheel would initiate an enormous, tyre-torturing slide. The only bigger drift is continental drift.

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While there was only a single circuit to master in this first game, with a couple of layouts, the track was a highly compressed roadtrip that took in a densely packed metropolis, a dramatic canyon suspension bridge and an idyllic beachside resort.

Two years later, the PlayStation release of the game was a respectable conversion, earning Ridge a whole new legion of fans. It probably helped that the notoriously awful Sega Saturn version of Daytona, which arrived around the same time, was about as faithful as a Love Island contestant.

Neither of these were the ideal way to play Ridge Racer, though. That honour went to the vanishingly rare Ridge Racer Full Scale arcade machine, which allowed you to play the game on an enormous 10-foot screen from behind the wheel of a full-sized Mazda MX-5, complete with working ignition key and gauges. Apparently one of those set-ups would have cost you around £150,000 back in 1993, close to twice that in today’s money. And then you’d have to work out how to fit it through the front door...

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