On September 9, 1995 the original Sony PlayStation went on sale in the US. There were only 10 original games available at launch, and the shining star among of them was Namco’s Ridge Racer.
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.
Yeeaahh, GT1 started the fire in my heart witch is called “Love 4 JDM”. Otherwise i would’t be aware of cars such as FTO, Chaser or Minica Dangan. Here in middle Europe was still in pre-Internet age. 😉
The car is inherently a 3D body. Driving is fundamentally movement in 3D space. But back in the 80s, computers weren’t capable of meaningful 3d graphics, so they just couldn’t represent the essence of driving.
As a child unfamiliar with Moore’s law it wasn’t obvious to me that they ever would, so when Ridge Racer, a home console game, suddenly burst out with full 30fps true 3D motion driving – it was a revelation, a revolution, a new dawn. Nothing would ever be the same again, as I drooled over the glossy pages of EDGE magazine.
Between the static pages of magazines and hard costly reality, a new world of fantasy motoring had opened up, where hundreds of different cars could be flung around all sorts of worldwide tracks without concern for cost, cops or the realities of repairing the repercussions of an excursion into the scenery. I soon dived right in with Playstation and Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo, Driver and many more, and only last night I was racing online with friends around Brands Hatch in GT Sport. Ridge Racer was indeed the beginning, and it’s never ended.
There’s a good article here with some quotes from the RR dev team https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-20-years-of-playstation-the-ridge-racer-revolution
Although the games were never released abroad, the Choro Q series was the best series on the PS1 for me.
Inspired by Takara’s toy of the same name (known as Penny Racers in the U.S.), this racing game won me over with its fun tracks and unique list of cars.
If my comments have piqued your interest in this game, you can find it on eBay or elsewhere.
It’s a great game that has never faded in its enjoyment, even if you play it now.
I also recommend Meisha Retsuden to fans of the JNC.
This game was also only released in Japan, but is probably the world’s first game for JNC fans. You’ll have the pleasure of owning a Galant GTO or a Honda S800 in your PS1.
Spent many a dollar on the arcade version of Ridge Racer (Rave Racer and Ridge Racer II).
Six Speed with a clutch…
“Excellent cornering”. And “It’s a new record” are stuck in my mind forever.
I love Ridge Racer.
But once I jumped on Dreamcast and Tokyo Xtreme Racer… that was it for me.