Keeping it fairly simple and straight forward this week! Welcome to my Top 5 favourite racing games of all time. No specific criteria for this, if the game has cars in it and you can race, it’s eligible for inclusion.
5. Rock n’ Roll Racing
As expected, most people these days know Blizzard for a myriad of classic games. Games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft and Overwatch. Not me my friends. I know Blizzard as the folks that made one of the coolest racing games ever. The vehicular combat based Rock n’ Roll Racing. Except in 1993 they weren’t known as Blizzard. They were Silicon & Synapse.
The project originally started life as a sequel to RPM Racing until Interplay intervened and added an amazing licensed soundtrack and changed the name to Rock n’ Roll Racing.
Using an isometric view much like RC Pro Am on the NES, RnR pit 4 racers against each other where there were effectively no rules. It was basically Mario Kart before Mario Kart existed and it was really fun. It even included an almost RPG style upgrade system, which was pretty cool at the time. But honestly my fondest memories of the game are the incredible soundtrack that include Born To Be Wild and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. It actually hold up pretty well even today.
4. F-Zero GX
The futuristic Nintendo racing game….that Sega made. I understand many preferred Wipeout, but I always preferred the blistering 60 fps speed and insanity of F-Zero GX. That’s all this game was about. Absolutely ridiculous speed.
It’s actually quite incredible how this game runs with 30 cars on track that involve explosions and other elements that by all rights should absolutely tank the frame rate frequently.
But F-Zero isn’t your regular racing game. In the same way Punch Out was your regular boxing game. F-Zero required you rely more on your reflexes alongside track memorisation, which obviously won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it.
3. Mario Kart 64
Yep I get it, this is an unpopular opinion these days. Let’s face it Mario Kart 8/Deluxe is an incredible Kart racer and arguably the distillation of everything that’s made this franchise the premier Kart Racing game in the world.
But 64 is special to me. It’s the game that turned me into the gamer I am today and still has the best Battle Mode in the series. It’s the game that demanded I become a multi-platform gamer rather than sticking with Sega alone.
I also appreciate even now Mario Kart 64’s simplicity. Both in weapon options as well as its track selection. It has far less of the wackiness that has permeated through the series with each passing instalment and for that reason I continue to go back at least once a year and take it for a spin.
2. Split/Second Velocity
What if Michael Bay took the freeway chase scene from Bad Boys II, cranked it up to 100 and made a video game out of it? The now defunct Black Rock Studios did just that.
Split/Second is an absolutely incredible, adrenaline pumping action arcade racer that’s impossible to find mundane. Each track contains multiple action points that can be triggered once you’ve built up enough power (via drifting, drafting and jumping) which cause absolute chaos on the track and can almost literally wipe out the field in one fell swoop.
From canyon rock slides, to planes crashing into airport runways, Split/Second always manages to keep your attention locked because you simply never know what’s going to happen.
The game provides a pretty neat quasi-story mode that takes players through “episodes” of a mock reality TV show where racers compete for money and can unlock cars and skins.
It also introduced us to the Eliminator mode many now enjoy in the fantastic Forza Horizon 4, but on a much smaller scale.
Split/Second may not be my favourite racer of all time, but it’s easily the one I rank as the most under-appreciated. Thankfully it’s not lost to time as it’s available digitally on Xbox 360 and backwards compatible on Xbox One. It was given away via Games with Gold but if you didn’t snag it back then, do yourself a favour and pick it up anyway. It’s an extremely fun arcade racer.
1. Daytona USA
I’m not sure I could imagine any other option for the best racing game of all time. Released in 1993 and still seen and played in arcades. There’s not much I can say about Daytona USA that I haven’t said before.
You can check my Top 5 from Week 6 where it was also my number 1 Arcade game of all time.
All I’ll say is that this game is constantly on sale and cheap even when not on sale. Buy it on Xbox One/360 via backwards compatibility and own this arcade perfect version for yourself.