Sure, it didn’t have any licensed cars (although there was that one car on the cover that looked like a cross between a Mitsubishi Eclipse and FTO), but it as the name implies, it was inspired by the mountain driving popular in Japan at the time. It was a pioneer of drifting physics as well, which became integral to the personality of the game. In other words, the PlayStation and Ridge Racer brought an early form of touge battles to American living rooms long before anyone in the States knew of Initial D (Sega, for its part, went with the 3D Daytona USA).
As we wrote when Namco founder Masaya Nakamura passed away in 2017, the company has had a long history of getting children interested in cars, through video games, amusement park-style rides, and those coin-operated ride-on things you used to see outside department stores. The PlayStation would eventually bring us Gran Turismo, but 25 years ago today, kids in America were getting their racing fixes with this influential game. For some perspective, the time from the PlayStation’s US debut til now is the time you’d have to wait to import a new Japanese car.
Thanks for the memories, PlayStation One, and in honor of that here’s a 40-minute video of Ridge Racer gameplay.