Saturday, March 3, 2012

Namco's Ace Driver: A Poor Man's Indy 500??

Oh, leave it up to Kotaku to write an article that barely references Daytona USA to spark interest in the game again.

The 1990s were a great time for arcade racing games. Daytona, Cruis'n USA, the original Ridge Racer...but for all the quality on offer there, my friends and I spent more time and money on one game than any other.

And that game was Namco's Ace Driver.

It's not a bad article.  It goes to mention the game's horrible rubber-banding is so bad that whoever was in last place was pretty much destined to win.  Therefore, everyone drove as slowly as possible without running out of time so they could slingshot into first at the end.  A concept so f***tarded that even Midway couldn't think it up.

Rubber-band AI or multiplayer ain't new.  Daytona USA has lots of rubber-banding but you can disable it if you like.  But Ace Driver sounds worse than any other rubber-band racer I've seen.

Is it just me or is Namco pretty much stealing Sega's ideas?  Or is it the other way around?  I'm looking at the list of Namco arcade games as well as Sega arcade games and they share many similarities.  I can only do so much research so if you find any more, feel free to add via comments:

Shiatload of Sega arcade games = Shiatload of Namco arcade games
Daytona USA = Ridge Racer
Virtua Fighter = Tekken
Virtua Cop = Time Crisis
Indy 500 = Ace Driver
Turbo = Pole Position
Super Monaco GP = Final Lap
Super Hang-On = Suzuka 8 Hours
Initial D Arcade Stage = Wangan Midnight Tune
Top Skater = Alpine Racer
Edit: Last Bronx = Soul Edge

Doesn't matter, if you take away Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig-Dug, etc., Sega whips Namco's ass any day of the week.  Which brings me to....

Daytona USA vs. Ridge Racer.  Ridge Racer ain't bad but it's not as "intricate" or skillful of a racer as Daytona.  That is, in Ridge Racer, the physics are even less realistic and you can ping-pong your way around the track like that.  But that's just me.  The game does a good job of differentiating itself from Daytona.  The only thing Ridge Racer really has over Daytona is that Namco is producing all sorts of new RR games while you have to twist Sega's arm just to get a basic XBL/PSN port.  Namco deserves props since they've been so prolific in the arcade era.

And now I present to you dudes the coolest song I've heard in the last 5 minutes:


  1. I'll add Last Bronx vs. Soul Edge as the Battlecast mentioned. I stumbled upon the game with a few other Saturn games on sale (I think the other one was Dark Savior, not bad either), and loved it. Being able to cancel out moves and juggle the way you could, the fighting felt really fine-tuned. Not overly technical, offered incredible freedom, and allowed punishment for button-mashing players. I might have to snag it for my M2 emulator. A real shame LB was so underrated outside Japan, and I'm baffled that it never got a sequel of any sort, especially with its popularity in Japan.

    And I actually came to notice the whole Namco-doing-what-Sega-did thing way back in the day. Shortly after you saw Virtua Fighter, there was Tekken. Virtua Cop, Time Crisis. And so on. Of course, the Sega fan I was then thought Namco was just ripping off Sega and making it appeal toward more mainstream audiences. Nowadays, especially after learning Daytona was made solely to challenge Ridge Racer, it was a game of "which one will they play over the other". Still, in this regard I became a bit biased against Namco's arcades, and it didn't help that a lot of people I know preferred Namco's games simply for the graphics. At least the home ports anyway. Or because of the "coolness" factor. Heck, long time ago I actually found myself arguing with people that Virtua Fighter was the first 3D fighting game.

    But looking at that footage I'm reminded why I didn't get into the Ridge Racer series in the first place - though I played it on the PS1, I felt it was just missing some kind of immersion factor. Pick it up, play it, finish, move on. I guess with Daytona I felt I was sucked into those worlds and couldn't leave. Same with Sega Rally, Daytona 2, Scud Race, and Outrun2. The music, the beautiful scenery of those courses, memorable turns - nothing else existed once you got behind the wheel. Ridge Racer not so much.

    Honestly, looking at the Ace Driver footage, I'd compare it more to Virtua Racing than Indy 500. Not so much the visuals, but the typeface and lack of music, except when you hit a checkpoint.

  2. "Virtua Fighter = Tekken"

    You know, Tekken is the worst example of Namco's "let's rip off Sega's ideas and make money in the west". Everything about it is copied, everything.

    At least (AT LEAST!!!) 3 characters in Tekken are direct design copies from VF (for example Nina, who, coincidentally, is an american blonde in a blue bodysuit - just like Sarah; King, an "animal-themed" wrestler - VF had Wolf and so on)
    Original Tekken had no uniqueness about it, it feels like poor man's Virtua Fighter, with unnecessarily complicated controls and terribly pixelated graphics.

    It didn't stop here, Namco continued to copy Sega long after the release of their debut fighting game.

    Remember how Virtua Fighter 3 had more open arenas with uneven terrain, like hills and bumps and walls, and stuff? Well, guess what our friends at Namco included in Tekken 4...

    Remember how Virtua Fighter 4 allowed you to customize your fighter and had a "Quest Mode" (you fought named CPU opponents and your rank increased as you progressed)? Tekken got these things too, except 2-3 years later.

    Seriously, I despise Tekken more than any other Namco franchise - luckily, at least in Japan, Tekken is always two steps behind Virtua Fighter, but everywhere else, people go around and jizz themselves over Jin Kazama's nipples.

  3. Added Last Bronx to the list. I don't have much to say about Namco. They did a good job advancing a few untouched series, like Time Crisis and Soul Calibur...two concepts that Sega basically gave up on. But graphically, just looking at Daytona vs. RR2, Daytona looks so sharp in terms of graphics, textures, interface, etc. that it's crazy. And once Scud Race came out two years later, there was NO WAY Namco could top that.

    Also, no coincidence that as soon as Sega took a dive, so did Namco. Namco needed Sega more than Sega needed Namco. Do you hear anything good about Namco anymore other than Soul Calibur and maybe Ridge Racer? No because Namco is mediocre. Also glad you mentioned the stuff about Virtua Fighter vs. Tekken, though no one seems to care about VF anymore sadly.

    If only because of Sega's complete ineptitude is why Namco looks like the "paper champs." Namco with all the fighting, light-gun, and racing games while Sega continues to trip on its own shoelaces with bad Sonic games. What a damn shame.

  4. Hi Eric, just wanted to point out Ace Driver came out in 1994 while Indy 500 was released in 1995. Also Initial D itself copied a lot of ideas from Taito's Battle Gear/Side By Side games that date back to's a clip from BG2 (release in 2000):

  5. And in other news, Akira from VF has been confirmed as a guest character in DOA5. Didn't expect that one, though Akira was the basis for Kokoro, and DOA's original creator has given his respects to the VF franchise (while calling some Tekken games a POS).

  6. Yeah, I'm aware Indy 500 succeeded Ace Driver by a year. And that Initial D succeeded Battle Gear. However, both Sega games go way and beyond the call of duty. Scumbag Sega--oh well, Sega can dish it out too. And it's nice to see more Virtua Fighter characters out there. Getting sick and tired of all this Street Fighter crap everywhere.

  7. Yu Suzuki said on a interview that the original creator of Tekken (not Harada, the creator) was one of the best programmers at AM2. SEGA released Virtua Fighter and then Namco hired this dude. One year later, the dude created Tekken.

  8. Sounds interesting, I would like more facts on this Tekken TRAITOR...