Sunday, February 7, 2010

What If... "Sega Racing Legacy?"

John Marine | 2/07/2010 03:25:00 AM | |
UPDATED 3/13/2010 with "Le Mans 24"
Also, I send a special hello to everyone on the Sega forums!

Sega's racing games have been some of the most fun and most amazing racing games ever. One aspect of what makes them exceptional is their amazing use of sprite scaling. Many games from Sega's past have been visually impressive for their time. Some games from the past are even so good that they are stunning to look at, even today. While it may never happen, one thing to wonder is... if Sega came up with a mega compilation of some of their finest racing games in one package, what would be included in it? There would be a number of classic Sega racing games that would be great to include. Some titles capture the imagination, some are merely also-rans. I'll do my best to share games with all of you and why I chose these games.

You're going to see me make notice of sprite scaling. To get an idea as to what sprite scaling is and what made Sega so far ahead of its time with sprite scaling, check out this video:

Sega Arcade - Galaxy Force II (Sprite Scaling Demonstration)

--- A Note About This Blog Entry ---
What this blog includes are a great assortment of racing games from Sega's past. I'm including games based on how they are in their day.

--- What Games Should Be Included in an All-in-One Package? ---
What would (or could) be included in such a package? Allow me to name a bunch of games here. They are all listed in no particular order. I divided them up between 2D games and 3D games. I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss a game in this list, so don't viciously attack me just because I forgot a game. I just included as many as I know or have seen. The majority of these games are arcade games, meaning

--- Sega Racing Legacy: 2D Games ---

OutRun (1985).
This is perhaps one of the finest racing game series in gaming history. This series has always been a lot of fun. Imagine being able to go full speed on the highway while being able to take different routes. This had been the formula for this game's success for more than 20 or 25 years. It all began with this title.

Turbo OutRun (1989).
Unlike the previous title, Turbo OutRun had you race only one route. With your Ferrari, you go on a tour of the United States. Your task is to go from New York City to Los Angeles. You have to reach locations like Chicago, Miami, and Oklahoma along the way. While the cities themselves aren't true-to-life (for example, snow-capped mountains in Atlanta), real-life cities are featured with all kinds of unique scenic aspects to them.

Hang-On (1985).
There are few great motorcycle racing games. Even fewer motorcycle racing game SERIES. That's why this game is definitely in my list of Sega classic racing games. Hang-On is like OutRun, except that you're racing only one straight route with five stages. A single crash could be enough for you to fail to win.

Super Hang-On (1987).
Enjoy 280 kilometers per hour on two wheels! You can now go even faster than 280km as you can blaze your bike down the road. This successor to the first Hang-On now features four different routes to test your riding skill. You can run as few as six stages or as many as 18. Each individual stage features two seperate stages, unlike Hang-On one featuring only one stage for a given The Novice Course takes you to Africa for six stages of action. The Junior Course takes you around Asia for a ten-stage tour. The Senior Course takes you on a tour of America. The final challenge is a grueling tour through some of the world's best riding roads- Europe. The tour last a grueling 18 stages. The Genesis/Megadrive version featured an Original Mode that allowed you to win money to upgrade your bike. It was also possible to spend money to repair parts of your bike that get damaged during races. Once you get better mechanics, you start earning more money and start going up against better opposition. You can enjoy four songs to push your Super Hang-On experience even further.

Power Drift (1988).
Power Drift features as many as 12 drivers on a track in very creatively-designed tracks. The sprite scaling technology makes this one of the most amazing games ever designed. You race these roadsters around these intricately-designed courses. While the tracks are short, they blast by pretty fast. So make sure you finish 3rd or better to advance.

OutRun 2019 (199?).
While you don't race something resembling a Ferrari, this game delivers a racing experience unlike any other racing game. Perhaps the biggest draw to this game is that this game features the most clever use of roads in this game. You actually notice overpasses, roads under and above roads, very real tunnels, actual bridges (you could even fall off of bridges if not careful!)... no other game has had this creative a use of roads when this Genesis/Megadrive-exclusive title was released.

OutRunners (1992).
Maybe the most visually-impressive 2D racing game ever, OutRunners takes you on a worldwide tour. You can take either a West Course or an East Course. Both courses allow you to tour the world in a total of 30 tracks (15 to each route). In addition, this game allows you to choose a car other than a Ferrari. The game boasts the most beautiful graphics of any 2D racing game. The Genesis/Megadrive version of this game did absolutely NOTHING to capture the spirit of the original OutRunners game. As a fun fact, this is the ONLY OutRun I've ever played in an arcade room.

Super Monaco GP (1989).
Super Monaco GP allows to race the most prestigious F1 race of the year- the Monaco Grand Prix. Unfortunately, it's not the true-to-life Monaco GP. The funny thing is that you qualify on one course, then race the game's full course. You have to make sure to clear checkpoints at a specific position. The biggest draw to this game is just how amazing the graphics look. With Sega's innovative sprite scaling technology, you sometimes will wonder if this is a true 3D game.

Racing Hero (1989).
Racing Hero was not any kind of successor to Hang-On. However, this game is like a cross of OutRun and Hang-On. This 1989 racing game features incredible graphics. The racing all takes place from a behind-the-back camera view. You are sharing the road with cars and trucks. Weave your way around them (as well as your motorcycle opposition) to reach the finish line. There are a total of ten different venues, each with two individual stages. If you cross the checkpoint, you will be able to resume from the checkpoint to complete the stage. You can choose one of two different locations when you clear each venue. Does this remind you of a certain Sega game I mentioned earlier (OutRun)? When you see the graphics spin around when starting a race or restarting from a checkpoint, you see how the graphics all come together. It's still amazing how Sega pulls off the very realistic looks through sprite scaling.

F1 Exhaust Note (1991)
This game brings you to only one race track. You are racing your high-powered F1 race car against some stiff competition. Do your best to complete the race (or maybe even win it!). As a note, DON'T confuse "F1 Exhaust Note" with the non-Sega game, "Exhaust Heat," which was known to many others as "F1 Race of Champions."

F1 Super Lap (1993).
This game is the sequel to F1 Exhaust Note, only this game includes actual F1 teams at the time. You could actually choose to race as any number of teams including Ferrari, Ligier, Williams, Footwork, and more.

GP Rider (1989).
This motorcycle racing game takes you on a four-lap race of a single race course. You have two options- Automatic transmission or Manual/Standard transmission. The course in this game is a bit similar in layout, but this game's track includes an overpass.

Enduro Racer (1986).
Think of Enduro Racer as the motocross cousin of Hang-On. Having said this, Enduro Racer has you in a very extreme motocross race where you avoid hitting rocks, tree stumps, and things like that. You can even do wheelies in the anything-goes realm of motocross racing. You actually feel like you're racing a true motocross course as you sense all the different undulations in the road. This was unlike any other game at the time.

Rad Mobile (1992(?)).
Rad Mobile was one of the most unique racing games of its time. You go on a 20-stage, cross-country tour taking you from Los Angeles to New York City. This game allowed you to use windshield wipers, headlights, and more. This is one arcade game that features a lot of great action in a unique gaming experience. You had to play one of the arcade versions, which features hydraulic motors to simulate taking the actual bumps in the road. Nonetheless, this was a fantastic game for what it is. This was also the debut of Sonic before Sonic got his own game.

--- Sega Racing Legacy: 3D Games ---
Now it's time to look at what 3D games would be included in a Legacy package.

Virtua Racing (1992).
Virtua Racing is perhaps the godfather of all 3D Sega racing games. You could only race a Formula race car on three different tracks. All races last five laps long. Big Forest is the only course where you're given a head start. It is the beginner-level course that teaches you everything you need to know about racing this game. Bay Bridge is the Intermediate course which takes you to this coastal locale. And as the name of the track suggests, you have a big bridge to cross. It's basically inspired by San Francisco. The Acropolis course is the toughest course with tricky corners and is nearly tough to clear successfully.

Virtua Racing Deluxe (1994; Genesis/Megadrive and 32X).
This package includes the same formula race car and the three courses from the original game, but also includes two new courses and two other kinds of cars. It brought the track choices from three to five and the car choices from one to three. This game showcased the polygon potential of the Genesis/Megadrive (when you hook in the 32X unit). The Formula car is the basic racing machine. The Stock car is rather slow and loves to fishtail and drift in corners. The Prototype is a GTP race car delivering unreal speed. The two new tracks are Highland and Sand Park. Highland is an urban course that consists of many city buildings and some tricky roads. Sand Park takes you through a desert setting. Victory is tough to come by here.

Daytona USA (1994).
You're the great driver piloting the Hornet High-Class Gallop Racing #41 stock car. Daytona USA was historic for many reasons. This game runs at a beautiful 60 frames per second with textured polygons (unlike the flat-shaded objects in Virtua Racing). Daytona USA may not feature the Daytona International Speedway, but it does feature three courses for you to get your speed freak on. Three-Seven Speedway is the bread and butter of stock car racing- an oval. The Three-Seven namesake consists of the big slot machine this track has. Dinosaur Canyon was the Advanced course. This road course has you weaving around canyons, through a tunnel, around a windmill farm, and all the way back to the finish. It is a track where you'll need handling skills. Seaside Street Galaxy requires handling as well as high-speed (and some luck). This is a course that takes you to an airport terminal, on the city streets, across a bridge, near a space shuttle station, and near an old boat. This was truly one of the most classic gaming experiences anywhere.

Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge (1998).
"Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge" takes you on a wild ride in the insane world of stock car racing. Everything is harder and more extreme. You can even choose between other cars with different levels of handling and performance. It is even possible to race as the classic #41 stock car from the first Daytona USA (but only in the Power Edition of this game). Three courses will test your abilties. The first is Astro Waterfall Speedway, set in the Forest Dome, the beginner course that takes place on an oval. The Advanced course is the Joypolis 2020 Amusement Park. This is a road course with various locales in one lap. You go from the outside to this futuristic city to this icy land. Truly a roller coaster ride. The final course is a course that resembles New York City- Virtua City. This is a knock-down drag-out brawl where you'd better be prepared to take each corner properly or pay dearly. There's an extra challenge that connects all three courses in a point-to-point race. You start with the Advanced course, then go into the Expert Course, then finish on the Beginner course.

Sega Super GT/Sega SCUD Race (1996).
Make no mistake about it- this is my all-time favorite arcade racing game. This Model 3 racing game features outstanding visuals and a fun experience. I can remember from my grade school days that I would love to play this game whenever I saw it. This is the game that I am most disappointed it was never released for home. I actually wanted to blog about this game separately, but that will be in the future. Anyhow, this game features four tracks and four real-world race cars. All the race cars come from the BPR Organisation (as it's spelled), which we'd know in the future as FIA GT. You could race the "Easy Driving" Porsche 911, the "Normal Driving" Ferrari F40, the "High Torque" Dodge Viper GTS-R, or the "Top Speed" McLaren F1. All these cars can be raced on four different courses. The Beginner-Day course is Dolphin Tunnel. This track is an American-style course dominated by a large aquarium. You go full-speed through this aquarium as various kinds of fish watch your beautiful race car flash by. My personal favorite course is Beginner-Night. The track is called Twilight Airport. This track is like a modified oval where top speed is the name of the game. While it's simple, you need to pick a consistent line to guarantee you'll finish. The Intermediate course is called Mystery Ruins. From a standing start, you are faced with a course that features a cascading waterfall, tall mountains, and an overpass. It's a course to try out after you've mastered the Beginner courses. The Expert Course is the greatest challenge. Classic Castle takes you on an extreme course where mistakes should be kept to an absolute minimum if you expect to win (or at least finish). Again, it's a great shame this game was NEVER ported to home consoles.

Sega Super GT Plus/Sega SCUD Race Plus (1997?).
The notable difference between this game and its predecessor is that there is a new "Super Beginner" course. This Super Beginner course has you racing around what looks to be someone's house. The "cars" to choose from are mostly toys. It's weird, but addicting racing this course.

Le Mans 24 (1997).
Unless you live in Japan or Europe, this game is absolutely forgotten. This game gave you the chance to race two different tracks and three different races. You can run the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a circuit race around Le Mans, or this Expert-level fantasy street course. I thought this game was a natural evolution of Sega Super GT/SCUD Race since you're racing GT cars as well as prototypes. For some reason, this game has been sadly forgotten. If something can be arranged to help more people be aware of this game and all that it has to offer, it would be greatly appreciated. That's why I included this game as part of this Legacy collection.

Sega Rally Championship (1995).
Sega Rally Championship allows you to compete in rallying competition across three tracks and a bonus one. There are only two cars for you to use, both of which are actual cars from the World Rally Championship in 1994. You can race with the Toyota Celica WRC or the Lancia Delta WRC. The three courses are Desert (Easy), Forest (Medium), and Mountain (Hard). Clear one rally stage to take part in the next one. You earn time for clearing checkpoints. If you place first at the end of the Mountain rally, you can take on the Lakeside course as a bonus.

Sega Rally 2 (1998).
Improving upon the original, this Model 3 includes many more cars and many updated effects. Some new environments were also included, ranging from your average dusty roads to even a race in a European city.

Sega Touring Car Championship (1996).
The benefactor of Sega Rally Championship's structure was this game. This game allowed for the ability to race for multiple laps around a course. Complete the race to go to the next. The cars you race with are three different DTM (as in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, not the somewhat more civilized Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters cars) race cars. The first course is Country Circuit, which is a modified oval. You race it once to qualify, then race it again for a proper race. The second course is Grünwalt Circuit, a winding and undulating circuit. It is a high-speed road course that's slightly tougher than the first course. The final course is called Brick Wall Town, a challenging course

Manx TT Superbike (1995(?)).
While in no way a successor to the Hang-On series, this game takes the 37+ mile-long course and abbreviates it severely to three-lap shootouts. You only race one class of motorcycle. There are actually two different courses. The other is a simpler and shorter course, Laxey Coast. It personifies arcade-style racing in the no holds barred world of superbike racing.

Hang-On Grand Prix (1995).
Sadly, this would be the ONLY Hang-On released in the 1990s. This game features three different road courses rather than the point-to-point madness that has defined Hang-On for years. It's also the only 3D Hang-On.

Ferrari F355 F1 Challenge (1999(?)).
Step into the realm of Ferrari Challenge with Ferrari F355 Challenge. This game allows you to race the Ferrari F355 Challenge car. I still want to own the PS2 version. But trust me... this game is MUCH more intense from the arcade version. The arcade version even includes a three-screen setup for the ultimate racing experience. The home console version of this game features many more tracks to race on. This may be one of the most extreme sim-type racing games ever. Only licensing issues would be a deterrent as to whether this game would be included in a Sega Racing Legacy package.

OutRun 2 Series (2004+).
These modern OutRun games deserve a special place in this lineup because they are a modern interpretation of the classic OutRun. You exclusively race Ferraris. It's a must-play if you're a Ferrari fan and have never experienced this modern interpretation of this title.

--- Compiling the Collection ---
So that was a look at what games would compile a classic game collection. They are a combination of games I've either seen and/or played before. It could be very simple just to take the 2D games and put it all into a game you can buy at the store. The 3D games may be more of a challenge. There may be licensing issues as well as simply some games (like SCUD Race) that are too advanced for home console technology to play as beautifully as its arcade counterpart.

See my related entry called "What If... Sega Racing Megamix?"
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