Sunday, September 30, 2012

SNK Made Racing Games Too

As you know, I'm working on this stupid "Racing Game Timeline" thing which means I have to dig up images and release dates of a hundred different racing games.  Doesn't sound too bad except because of my obsession with details, a hundred games quickly became a thousand.  In other words, I have to look up 1000 racing games, get a title/box art icon of each, and put them into a chart according to their year of release using Photoshop.  Sounds like fun!

Burning through the racing games, it's not bad at first.  Just hit the big names first.  We know about all the Sega racers like Daytona and OutRun.  Then there's Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, Forza, Burnout, Mario Kart, DiRT, etc.  Then it gets really tedious as hell as you're listing every Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune and Ridge Racer iteration (damn you Namco) as you're also digging through the back of your mind thinking of semi-relevant racing games Midtown Madness and Screamer.  Then you go to websites besides GameFAQs or Wikipedia for help, like The System 16 Arcade Museum.  Damn, all these Alpine Skiers and miscellaneous Sega clones from Namco, yeah I hate you too.  But I'm learning new things about the racing genre!  If you can believe it.  How about this:

I get to SNK arcade section of System 16 and the last thing I expected was to find a racing game.  When I think of SNK, I think Metal Slug, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, basically weird arcade games that don't even fit the norm of more mainstream devs like Sega, Namco, or Capcom.  But RACING GAMES???  No...there is one (technically two but they're so similar) and here it is:

It's Road's Edge (or Round Trip RV), a 1997 SNK arcade racer.  Pick one of several trucks and go rally racing on dirt and pavement.  Like Sega Rally, Road's Edge will move you to the next track after you've completed one lap.  The goal is to complete three tracks within the time limit and come in first.  Nothing spectacular.

The most interesting aspect of the game is the track design.  Rather than create one-way traditional race circuits (various shaped ovals and stuff), most of the track funnels drivers down the same road going both ways.  It's a sprint from point A to B and back to A and there's trucks racing in the opposite direction of where you're going and head-on collisions are possible.  No barriers or anything going down the road to keep drivers from colliding.  They don't happen as often as it seems but it's a unique twist I don't think I've seen in racing games until now.

EDIT: When you catch air, your guy says "Yahoo" and for some reason, it reminds me of Banjo-Kazooie.  Rofl.

I mentioned two games which both follow this same formula. The second is Xtreme Rally (or Off Beat Racer) released in 1998. It has different cars, tracks and HUD elements but other than that, there's not much of a difference.

It's obvious that back in the arcade heyday when racing games were actually SUCCESSFUL that a lot of these arcade distributors like Sega, Namco, Capcom, Atari, Midway, Taito just went to town making as many racing games as they could with the arcade hardware they designed.  Pick from a handful of cars, three or four tracks, automatic or 4-gear manual, and go race.  See Virtua Racing, Daytona 1 & 2, Indy 500, and Scud Race.  I wouldn't say Road's Edge/Xtreme Rally is perfect--the graphics are underwhelming for a 97'/'98 game and the sound & music could be improved.  Daytona USA, Scud Race, and Daytona USA 2 set the benchmark in terms of arcade graphics and sound in '94, '96', and '98 respectively.  With a great soundtrack too.  Props to AM2; that's why Sega racers frequently come up in arcade conversations and why I named this site "Sega Racing Fan" instead of "SNK Racing Fan."  Ha ha ha, the more you know.


  1. I love obscure shit like this, reminds me of the time I discovered GTI Club. I was like, damn, Konami made a racing game!? Then I learned there was a reason I had never heard of it before. Yuck.

    Sega has had its missteps too. Sega GT and Sega GT 2002 were pretty mediocre. Daytona for the Dreamcast was horrid. As I'm discovering now, Sega Rally 2006 is not everything I hoped it would be. And I lack the enthusiasm everyone has for OutRun 2.

    I like to play all racing games though. Sega will always be #1, but the early Ridge Racers are fantastic (especially R4, my favorite game of all time, tied with Scud Race). Wipeout, NFS, Colin McRae, Gran Turismo, one point or another, they've all been fantastic. Yes, I loved Burnout 3, even though that might be considered sacrilege at this site!

  2. Nah, that's okay. All the Sega Racers have different styles & gameplay so it's unlikely you've love them all. Like Daytona USA is more of a finesse game while Daytona 2 is raw, intense racing. OutRun is a supremely old 2D racer while OutRun 2 is beautiful yet with clingy handling. Yeah I critique Burnout and others, but hey, I'm just sticking to my guns. But we both love cars so that's what matters most...

  3. Haha, that zany ol' SNK engrish feel that I can't get enough of. I'll have to try these out, the track design and scenery definitely keeps you wondering what's coming next. I dunno, for me, when I think of SNK, it's more of "basically weird arcade games that don't even fit the norm - like Sega" =P The Neo Geo had its share of zany fighters, brawlers and shooters, but it was definitely a nice alternative from the better known titles. Some titles truly were unheard gems, while others... good educational material, if you catch my drift (no pun intended).

    There were some other racing titles on the regular Neo Geo. Thrash Rally, Overtop, Neo Drift Out, the latter two which are similar isometric racers despite different developers (ADK and SNK respectively), and Racing Hero, which looks like Hang On and Outrun slapped together with a story mode, and with credits being time-based, definitely not one of their better efforts. Of course, because the games were on the Neo Geo, it was joysticks and buttons instead of the standard wheel and pure 2D. Kinda explains why neither SNK nor the Neo Geo was known for racing titles. I imagine these two 3D titles went unheard because the Hyper Neo Geo 64 was also a flop.

    I remember hearing about Sega Rally 2006 the first time, and it was nothing but negative. Pretty scary back then, actually. Got weak scores in Japan, never saw a release outside the region. I know some say it's because it was the first Sega Rally without Tetsuya Mizuguchi. But an interesting soundtrack with some of Sega's biggest names on it: Hiro, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, Kentaro Koyama, Richard Jacques, Naofumi Hataya, Hideki Naganuma, Jun Senoue, to name a few. Can't say the later titles have maintained my interest either. And there's definitely mixed feelings from fans with Sega Race TV, Touring Car and Daytona CCE. F355 also didn't get the recognition it deserved, IMO.

    Another thing I've come to realize why I enjoy racing games, it's about the drive above all else, while the car itself is an added bonus. When it's the other way around, no dice.

  4. Racing games with buttons & joysticks??? Who thought it was a good idea??? Well, SNK did. Neo Drift Out and Overtop look neat and if you're going to use a joystick, that's the best kind of racing game to make.

    I also looked up this Racing Hero game and I think it was made by Sega? See this:

    Anyway, about Sega racers. Well, they're not created equal. You have Sega racers that are universally praised by most everybody who's played them (there will always be dissenters like rstyle :D ) such as Daytona 1, Daytona 2, Scud Race, OutRun, OutRun 2, Sega Rally, Crazy Taxi, Initial D. But there's a lot of odd ones like Le Mans 24, Touring Car, you mentioned Daytona Championship Edition which is fine but seems sterile, Sega Race TV which I reviewed a year ago, R-Tuned, etc. Some of these I don't know which dev team worked on them like Le Mans 24 which is made by "Sega." But I give Sega tons of credit since they're so ambitious and even "bad" games like Sega Rally 2006, Le Mans 24, or Daytona: CCE redeem themselves with some good ideas, soundtrack, what have you. Even Emergency Call Ambulance--hey, it's an ambulance game and Sega did it.

    The "worst" I feel about a Sega racer is Sonic Free Riders. I played the first one and thought it was okay but could use improvement. It was more focused on Sonic than was the racing part I think. Sonic Riders 2 still had problems but at least it had the 80's / 90's Boulevard retro levels. Then Sonic Free Riders comes out and it's a terrible Kinect game. Which is sad because the rest of the game looks pretty good (especially the environments) but I'll never know what it's like since the Kinect is a piece of crap. That makes me livid to this day.

    And you're right about that last statement although my preference is towards stock cars and Ferraris, if you know what I mean.

  5. Whoops, that should be "Riding Hero" and not "Racing Hero".

  6. Yes, that explains a lot...Racing Hero actually looks good but Riding Hero sucks.

    BTW, I am learning that there are in fact a hundred million F1 games out there too. Like F1 Super Lap, F1 Exhaust Notes (Sega diamonds in the rough), F1 Grand Prix Star, Continental Circus, tons of Virtua Racing/Turbo/Indy 500 clones, I mean, geez.

  7. Actually, the more I play SR2006, the more I like it. It is crazy hard though, even harder than SR2. I probably will never be able to unlock the Celica and the Delta. I'm starting to enjoy it at least as much as Revo though, so I guess that's a good thing.

    On average, Sega racers are absolutely the best. Scud Race, Sega Rally and Daytona are three of my favorite games ever, I grew up on those. I love most of the overlooked ones too. F355 Challenge, Sega Rally 2, Virtua Racing, probably Daytona 2 although I haven't had the chance to play it for more than 2 minutes. Never played Indy 500 or any of the Initial D games. But Indy 500 reminds me of this semi-awful Dreamcast launch title, CART Flag to Flag. It is sort of significant, considering it was one of the only CART/Champ Car games ever made. The physics are unrealistic, but not at all in a fun way. And the A.I. makes running a full-length race an impossibility.

    And speaking of F1 games, anyone ever played F1 Challenge for the Saturn? It may or may not be a true Sega-developed racer - that isn't explicitly mentioned, although Sega did publish it. Not a bad game and it's a nice change of pace from the Psygnosis F1 series on the PS1.

  8. Definitely agree with you on the Sega racer average. If you have a good computer, check out the Supermodel emulator and you can play Scud Race and Daytona 2. Incredible. If only Initial D got a good home port, I would invest time in it (no good arcades and I don't have the time, money, and patience). Obviously, I have never played SR2006...I actually forgot it existed for a while since it was Japanese-only release. I also have to check out the F1 Challenge game some time.