Why Sega Racing Games Are So Good

Alrighty mates, if you're new and you're reading this site, you're probably wondering what's the big deal with these games.  Well, where do I begin:

1. First and foremost, a fantastic sense of speed.  In this game, you're flying around in a race car going 180+ mph (280+ kph).  It really is a rewarding experience.  Compare this to games like Gran Turismo or Forza, they're realistic, but they're slow.  On the other end, you got weird games like Burnout that feel the best way to make a racing game is to tie you to a rocket and let you bounce off the walls like a crazy hooligan.  The car's suspension also lends to the sense of speed as it shakes in long straightaways and shifts left and right during corners.  It give it that extra sense of excitement and feel over the car.  Sega does it right, which leads to...

2. Fantastic track design.  It's one thing to make utilitarian tracks with very few notable features.  But pretty much all Sega tracks have tons of eye candy above the horizon to look at.  From nighttime cities, ancient pyramids, amusement parks, and underwater tunnels, Sega's got it all.  Check out this clip (which is just the tip of the iceberg):

3. Drifting.  Now every racing game's got drifts, but Sega practically patented it.  Daytona USA wasn't just the first game to have big drifts, but it was also the first game to get drifts RIGHT.  Drifts are usually initiated by tapping the brake or, even better, using the manual transmission to swing the car out.  Tons of fun, thank you Sega.  This leads to...

4. Compelling and rewarding gameplay.  These are games that you can't just pick up and do well.  You actually have to practice, learn how to drift, use manual transmission, hit the racing lines, and so forth.  This is first laid out by the punishing timer.  You run out of time if you have no idea what you're doing.  Then after you play the game, you beat the clock.  Then after that, you try to beat the AI cars and come in first.  Then by that part, you're completely hooked.  You play not just for fun, but to shave off milliseconds off your time.  Only a few games hold your attention like this.  You try to get the car to do your bidding.  Look at this:

Come on, Cruis'n World and Fast and the Furious are very linear, not requiring much skill, just dodging traffic and jerking the wheel left and right.  Rubber band AI is also prevalent in those games so you never get the true satisfaction of winning when it's just the AI playing mind games with you.  Just comparing them to something like Daytona USA is embarrasing, really.  Sega games are very rewarding and I've never regretted playing them.

5. Cool cars.  Not only are the stock cars rather elegant and unique, but you get to drive Ferraris too.  Come on, FERRARIS.  What's there's NOT to like about that?

6. State-of-the-art graphics.  The clip above was a game that came out in 1994, same year as games like Stunt Race FX on the SNES.  Virtua Racing was the first really good 3D racing game to came out in '92 and even games like OutRunners were still pushing 2D parallax scrolling in style by then.  Then you've got Scud Race in '96 and Daytona USA 2 in '98 which both looked like Xbox-quality games by then.  Astounding especially for 10+ year old games.  I already mentioned the car's suspension animation, but it's just great how well the cars are portrayed and little details help contribute to this.

7. Good sound effects.  Can you beat these engine and tire effects?  Really, just blows me away to this day.  Loud imposing sounds really have an effect on a game.  Just play a wimpy racing game with mediocre SFX, nowhere near as exciting.

8. Good, unique music.  While it's one thing for a racing game to not have a unique soundtrack (Forza, PGR), it's another thing for them to pick crap music while you're at it.  Sega just bypasses all of this and comes out with great music out the gate.  Daytona USA is infamous for its upbeat, Engrish music.  But their original '86 classic OutRun was the first racing game to have a unique soundtrack.  This is great:

9. Multiplayer.  What's a racing game without multiplayer.  Daytona USA is famous for its eight-player setups.  Just look, tell me these people aren't having fun:

10. Just about everything else I didn't mention is good.  Really, take my word for it.
The only thing I'd say is BAD about Sega racing games is...well, Sega just doesn't seem to care much about them.  Their last classic, OutRun 2, came out in '03 and that's a long time ago.  We got a few home ports but some games either have crap ports or none at all, particularly Scud Race and Daytona 2 which have never been visited since then.  If Sega would just show some love, it would be great, but to love these games is like a curse--you just don't get the TLC that you get from other devs, and that's sad...

8/24/10: I went ahead and posted a neat article on why Sega racers are so good.  Probably another reason why is that they take their racing games seriously and this is defined mostly by their music, sound, and pretty much everything else I mentioned:  CLICK HERE TO READ THIS ADDENDUM.

1/14/11: Click here for a list of all the racing games made by Sega and other developers.  Notice how Sega has the most games here...

Now you know why Sega makes the best racing games.  If I sound like a fanboy, then if being a fanboy means liking the BEST games out there, then I guess I am a fanboy.  Adios, amigos.