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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

My Retrospecive on 30 Years of Ridge Racer

John B. Marine | 9:39 PM | |
In October 1993; NAMCO (now Bandai-NAMCO) created Ridge Racer. It has been a franchise characterized by fantastic drifts, sometimes at high speeds. It has withstood the test of time and has delivered many an amazing experience. The year 2023 marks 30 years of the Ridge Racer series. While this blog post was not intended to be a cumulative look at the Ridge Racer franchise, I do want to pay some respect to this franchise and what it has brought to racing/driving games.

Ridge Racer at a Glance

Thirty years of Ridge Racer, and it all began with this:

Ridge Racer
^ from: (Glitchwave) - As of 2023, 30 years of awesome from the Ridge Racer series.

The Ridge Racer series has always been about fantastic drifts. Earlier games in the series have had soundtracks that were mostly quirky. The cars were mostly fictional. The majority of games in the Ridge Racer series were on the Sony PlayStation consoles. However, games in the series did find their way onto the Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, XBOX 360, and mobile devices. This game also features a handful of past NAMCO titles on the cars, so the Ridge Racer series even stands as a commemoration of past NAMCO titles such as Pac-Man, Mappy, and more.

Why Should You Care?

The Ridge Racer series has its own charm as an arcade racer. You are not going to be playing these games for accurate driving dynamics or amazing engine sounds. No. You want to want to slide around corners like a maniac. That's what these games provide. Whereas some later arcade games would be gritty, offer up illegal street racing action, or allow you to destroy the world around you to try to win; Ridge Racer is all about enjoying speed and just overall good times. Ridge Racer games are simply about enjoying high-speed racing with not much frills or fluff.

Besides the provided action, Ridge Racer was one of the first games to take advantage of fully-textured polygons. The action ran smoothly, but not as smooth as Daytona USA or even Virtua Racing.

My Retrospective on 30 Years of Ridge Racer

I'd like to offer my own thoughts on various Ridge Racer titles, even including those I don't consider as true Ridge Racer games. Again- this post is NOT meant to be a proper tribute to the Ridge Racer series. This is mostly a commentary piece. (NOTE: I will only provide comments on Ridge Racer games I've played or seen before. I will NOT feature every Ridge Racer title, which means I will not be covering the PSP and PSVITA Ridge Racer games.)

Ridge Racer.

From the flashy action to the eccentric announcer, "Ridge Racer" holds a place in many peoples' hearts. Its quirkiness just made it so fun to play again and again. The Ridge Racer action was fun whether at arcades or at home. If you were fortunate enough, you may even see a theater arcade game version of Ridge Racer held in a Mazda Miata. The first Ridge Racer offered a handful of different features. For one, you could notice day become night and night become day. Besides trying to win all of the races, the ultimate form of gratification was to defeat the black No. 13 car in the Time Trials. If a driver is able to acquire the feared 13th Racing car, the player will have the most powerful and fastest car in the game.

The PS1 version of Ridge Racer was unique in that you could play a quick game of Galaga as the game loads. (Something happens) if you manage to clear that quick game of Galaga in the PS1 version of Ridge Racer.

Ridge Racer 2 (Arcade).

Ridge Racer 2 is an arcade game that doesn't seem too much different from its previous title. You still had the same tracks to race on, just with some different songs and graphics.

Ridge Racer Revolution.

I have no experience with Ridge Racer Revolution. What I do know, though, is that you can now battle against this white car that is super powerful. You also race in a new locale that mixes downtown with some beachfront and some country roads. You can enjoy a more tropical setting here. This new locale will challenge you for sure.

Rave Racer (Arcade).

"Rave Racer" was a rather gritty title. Enhanced graphics and some faster cars made up this title. You could also race in a number of different environments ranging from a more industrialized city to some rural areas. The game also featured some more stylish cars to choose from with enhanced graphics details. You can also enjoy some cool music while getting your racing on. It also had an edgy rock girl featured with a skull necklace, a black top, jean short shorts, black tights, and combat boots.

Rage Racer.

Ridge Racer was about to get a bit more serious with the advent of "Rage Racer." The game series that was so colorful and quirky now just got serious. This 1996 racing game exclusive to PlayStation 1 delivered some wicked racing on a very challenging locale. You could race on four different courses. It also was the first game where you could spend credits to buy cars and enhance their performance. You start off in a more-than-capable Gnade Esperanza but work your way up to the Grade 4 (Manual only) cars and even the unique Assoluto Ghepardo.

"Rage Racer" even had something never before seen in a Ridge Racer game- actually licensed sponsors. The game featured sponsorship from Yokohama and ADVAN. You could also paint up your cars and adjust their driving characteristics. Each of the game's four tracks take place in a locale that combines a lot of urban setting along with some challenging country roads. You will see tall hills, cascading waterfalls, Greek island style buildings, and a lot more. It was also the first Ridge Racer title to feature an oval among the racing venues. While most road racing fans may not be attracted to ovals, this at least provides an interesting challenge.

If there was one thing that this game surely brought, it was the game's mascot- Reiko Nagase. This was an early form of Reiko Nagase as she would forever be tied into Ridge Racer lore in future titles.

This is actually one of my favorite racing games on PS1. I was glad to play and enjoy it for the time I played it. I recommend it to any PS1 gamer or PS1 game collector.

Ridge Racer Type 4.

"Ridge Racer Type 4" could best be described as the ultimate swan song for Ridge Racer on the PS1. RRT4 (or R4) was released in 1998 with the best graphics of any Ridge Racer title on PS1. R4 was all about Real Racing Roots '99- an eight-race season taking place in Japan and the United States in 1999.

The game featured 80 cars for you to unlock across four different teams. If you manage to get them all, you can unlock one more car. So in total, you could unlock 321 cars in R4. Unlocking all of those cars, however, will require you to race the RRR championship in different ways... including finishing in certain positions for certain races. Dare I say it- this game's awesomeness even rivals Gran Turismo 1 and Gran Turismo 2!

Whereas past Ridge Racer games had mostly quirky dance music, Ridge Racer Type 4 had a great array of dance songs. A lot of them had jazzy or lounge style flow to them. A few songs even had a rocking edge to them. This game was beginning to mature a bit more with this title, at least, on this front. The game has amazing music. This game even got me to appreciate the singing of Kimara Lovelace. However, there were two songs I didn't like in the game- and "The Objective."

I spent lots of time playing and enjoying this game. Each time I play it, I just get so enamored and immersed in the fabulous racing experience this game provides. It doesn't get old or frustrating in the least sense. Even for fun, I pretend Real Racing Roots is still a thing and pretend certain races of the year are coming up. So for example, when it's New Year's Eve, I pretend it is, "Real Racing Roots (the current year) in... Shooting Hoops!" The thing I loved most about this game is that it has the best drifting dynamics of any Ridge Racer game. Even the Grip cars from Terrazi and Age Solo were excellent driving machines.

RRT4 had an interesting bonus to it, which sets things up for the next section...

Ridge Racer Turbo.

Exclusive to PS1 and included with Ridge Racer Type 4 is "Ridge Racer Turbo." Think of this more like "Gran Turismo Hi-Fi" for Ridge Racer. "Ridge Racer Turbo" is basically an enhanced version of Ridge Racer 1 but runs at 60 frames per second. As cool as this sounds, a lot of sacrifices were made to make this game run on PS1 hardware. For one, there are no day-to-night cycles or a full field of cars. This is no true Ridge Racer; it is more a tech demo.

Ridge Racer 64 and Ridge Racer DS.

I am putting together RR64 and RRDS because they are basically the same game on different hardware. Ridge Racer 64 was the first non-Sony, non-arcade Ridge Racer title. RR64 had a look and feel of the classic Ridge Racer. You could race on tracks from the original Ridge Racer and from Ridge Racer Revolution. However, you could also race a brand new locale that takes place in a desert setting. There is also a new Ridge Racer Extreme course you could unlock that takes place at night on a completely new track.

Since Ridge Racer 64 was on a Nintendo 64, one of the perks of playing it was local multiplayer for up to four players. You also didn't have to worry about long loading times since everything is accessible on a cartridge. The graphics were not as impressive on the Nintendo 64 as on the PlayStation 1, but the action was still pretty intense.

You could compete in Duels to win new cars. All you have to do is defeat certain cars in a one-on-one race to add that car to your garage. Can you acquire them all?

I mostly rented Ridge Racer 64. For the times I played it, it was a great game to play. I always considered the RT Ryukyu to be my "Old Reliable" in racing. I enjoyed listening to "Manual Overdrive" and "Speed Nation" in this game. This game had a lot of influence from Digipen, a school where aspiring game developers honed their skills. There is even a Digipen car you can unlock in this game.

The later "Ridge Racer DS" had most of the features and cars of Ridge Racer 64 but optimized for the Nintendo DS hardware. Some different cars are in the game apart from the ones offered in RR64. The game also has a different lady featured besides Reiko Nagase; it instead featured the antagonist of a future Ridge Racer game (explained later in this blog post).

Ridge Racer V.

A PlayStation 2 launch title, Ridge Racer V blew the minds of many a Ridge Racer fan with beautiful graphics and intense racing. Ridge City is your race track, and you have many different locales for which to compete in the city's events. Everything you love about classic Ridge Racer is enhanced completely. It even features an incredible soundtrack with a lot of hard-hitting beats and instrumentals. You have much fewer cars to choose from, but this game delivers the goods. While Reiko Nagase may not be in this game, Ai Fukami is in. What some people may not know is that there was an arcade version of this game made by Konami.

Ridge Racer V can be played on three different difficulties. You can choose to race in Easy, Normal, or Hard modes. There is even a bonus championship if you clear all the Hard races. You had to finish in a certain position to advance through the races. Try to win them all if you can. Perhaps to rival Gran Turismo, there is a race you can unlock called the 99 Trial- a 99-lap race around Sunny Beach. Make time for that one!

This game had you unlock new cars but also new engines. You had Standard engines, Extra engines, and Oval engines. You had some Duel cars to unlock. You take on Duels the same way in Ridge Racer 64 or even RRT4. If you got all of the Duel cars, there is a special race you can compete in only consisting of Duel cars.

I think Ridge Racer V is one of the loveliest games on PlayStation 2. Even with jagged textures, it still is one of the most beautiful games on PS2. Yes- this game I put among the most beautiful PS2 games even with the likes of Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, Gran Turismo 4, Final Fantasy X, and a bunch of other PS2 titles. And this game was a LAUNCH TITLE!

I enjoyed a lot of the music in this game. The beat style of these songs was great to listen to along with the instruments. The soundtrack was becoming a bit more intense and not as chill as RRT4's music. I found the most fun racing the Kamata Fortune. I also enjoyed the Rivelta Mercurio. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and still do.

R: Racing Evolution.

Once at an E3 convention, I thought "R: Racing Evolution" was Enthusia Professional Racing or something. This game may not be a true Ridge Racer game, but it was an interesting diversion. "R: Racing Evolution" is a simulation-oriented racing game.

Unlike other Ridge Racer titles, this one has a storyline to it. You play as an ambulance driver-turned professional racing driver named Rena Hayami. Rena's primary rival is Gina Cavalli. You race real cars and even race on some licensed courses like Twin Ring Motegi. A big part of this game's racing appeal was in pressuring other drivers. The more you try to slipstream or trail racers ahead of you, you rattle their minds into having them make mistakes. Pressure them enough, and you can pull a sick overtake on them.

I wish I played more of this game. If you ask me, this game seems very underrated. It even has a very nice soundtrack. My favorite song in this game is "Liquid Soul." Even if this game doesn't have the appeal of a classic Ridge Racer game, it has a very good racing focus that makes it intriguing.

Ridge Racer 6.

Exclusive to XBOX 360, Ridge Racer 6 gave Ridge Racer fans on XBOX 360 a dosage of awesome. Much more beautiful graphics and more intense game play were what this title provided. I played a little of it on my cousin's XBOX 360 for a bit. You could enjoy classic and newer songs in this package. In addition to the lovely graphics, RR6 provided a more futuristic touch with the tracks and the cars. It still maintained the classic Ridge Racer look and feel. That is... wait- is that a Nitrous system? YES! You could race with some nitrous by charging them up with drifts. This made for some intense drifting while also adding an element of strategy for races. You could enjoy XBOX Live racing with Ridge Racer 6 if you fancy some multiplayer racing action in the Ridge Racer realm.

Ridge Racer 7.

Among the PlayStation 3 launch titles was Ridge Racer 7. RR7 picked up where RR6 left off. This Ridge Racer allowed you to purchase vehicles and customize their appearance. A more serious style soundtrack with many more artists made up the music for this game. This game also featured an even more futuristic appeal to it.

You will be speedfreaking all around Ridge State and compete in the UFRA. Upon completion of the main game mode, you can try some more intense races that are very challenging to win. The many tracks to this game will test your racing abilities. You can compete in a handful of different race events to earn money and unlock more content. It will keep you busy for sure!

The amount of depth this game has is incredible. It is the deepest Ridge Racer you will ever play. I enjoyed the experience. It felt like a true Ridge Racer game while not being overly foreign or exotic- even including the nitrous system. I'd enjoy the game more if I had more luck in the more extreme races. However, I been so trash at those races that I have not given much thought to trying most of the other races.

Ridge Racer 3D.

Released in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS, this is perhaps the last true Ridge Racer game. Beautiful graphics, cool cars, and intense racing make up this beautiful racing game. I have no experience with RR3D, except that I wanted to include this as being the last true Ridge Racer title.

Ridge Racer Unbounded.

Easily the most gritty, extreme Ridge Racer game ever conceived is "Ridge Racer Unbounded." Never have I been intrigued to play it. You could think of "Ridge Racer Unbounded" as NAMCO's and Ridge Racer's answer to Burnout or Split/Second. This is NOT a traditional Ridge Racer game. It was not even developed by the classic Ridge Racer team. In addition, this was the first(?) Ridge Racer you can play on PC. Since I am not into the Burnout scene much, I can't say I would play this. If you want the appeal of destroying the environment and even destroying your car, "Ridge Racer Unbounded" will serve you well.

I guess if you wanted a gritty racing experience in the realm of Ridge Racer, this is the game you should play. Since I have no experience with this game (and since I usually think of this game when I hear of "Need for Speed: Unbounded") I can't offer any comments on this title.

Ridge Racer Slipstream.

"Ridge Racer Draw and Drift" is a Ridge Racer title for mobile devices. The way you compete in this game is to draw a drift line and then execute drifts in said sections. I never played this game. I have, though, seen some videos about it. It has some annoying voice acting that was a turn off for it. Then again, this is not a proper Ridge Racer title.

Whew! That was a lot of retrospective! So with 30 years of Ridge Racer, will we ever see a true Ridge Racer title again? How should Bandai-NAMCO commemorate 30 years of Ridge Racer?

How Should Ridge Racer's 30th Anniversary be Commemorated?

Fans of the Ridge Racer series would hate to see one of the most successful racing/driving game franchises not be celebrated in any such way. So what I want to do here is talk about what could be done to maybe honor or recognize 30 years of this franchise. These are not what Bandai-NAMCO SHOULD do, but more like what I think could happen.

OPTION 1: Offer Special Merchandise or Memorabilia.

This may be what Bandai-NAMCO could do. This could range from special mixes of past Ridge Racer songs, maybe launch a line of collectible model cars of the most famous vehicles in Ridge Racer history, or even have some clothing. This would seem quite likely.

OPTION 2: Offer Ridge Racer-Related Downloadable Content.

Maybe for the most popular Bandai-NAMCO games, you could have stuff like giving your avatar Ridge Racer-themed material. Maybe you could have a special version of Pac-Man where instead of Pac-Man, you control the Pac Racing Team against with the ghosts being other teams. This would seem likely while also being kind of a cheesy way to remember 30 years of Ridge Racer.

Do these sound boring so far? Well, check these next ideas out:

OPTION 3: Create a "Legacy" Collection of Ridge Racer Games.

Imagine being able to race some of the most famous (and infamous) vehicles and tracks in Ridge Racer history. I think the collection would come with some fancy and updated graphics, but imagine if you could race the Crinale around the very first Ridge Racer track. Maybe imagine if you could race RR1's RT Ryukyu around Bayside Line from RRV. Maybe you want to race a fully upgraded Danver Hijack from RR7 around Rage Racer's tracks. Imagine if Real Racing Roots took on the tracks and atmosphere of Ridge Racer 7. One of the great things about the Ridge Racer series is that all or most of the vehicles and tracks are fictional, so you won't need to worry much about licensing issues. This would be a challenge to try to rework a lot of past Ridge Racer games to make a modern legacy collection where you could race almost any Ridge Race vehicle around almost any Ridge Racer track- even including arcade and portable Ridge Racer titles! This seems like a great idea, but I have great doubts it will ever happen. If this did materialize, I'd say it starts small but then gets bigger and better with updates and downloadable content (DLC)

OPTION 4: Create a Ridge Racer-Inspired Game.

Rather than make a totally new Ridge Racer game, come up with a successor or a game that pays homage to Ridge Racers past. This would seem likely by an independent developer rather than the Ridge Racer team. This COULD happen, but I think more people would want to see a true Ridge Racer game with all the furnishings that only a true Ridge Racer game can provide.

And finally...

OPTION 5: Make a Brand-New Ridge Racer Game.

Let's give this the hypothetical title of "Ridge Racer 8." Fans been waiting since Ridge Racer 7 or Ridge Racer 3D for a true Ridge Racer title. Let's say the Ridge Racer team (or some other developer) wanted to make an authentic racing experience worthy of being called a Ridge Racer. Either this new Ridge Racer would follow the futuristic style of RR7, or it maybe goes with cues from the PlayStation 1 Ridge Racer games. Maybe we get a Real Racing Roots for the 21 Century and with many more cars and with many more teams. Or maybe... Ridge Racer goes back to its roots from 1993 and not be so overly fancy. You know- like how MegaMan/RockMan 9 and MegaMan/Rockman 10 went back to a classic 8-bit style as opposed to the beautiful work of art that was MegaMan/RockMan 8. Maybe we see challenges in a "Ridge Racer 8" similar to "R: Racing Evolution" like rally, drag racing, or maybe even drifting. We could see many of the past cars and manufacturers return alongside some new ones. And what about the likes of Reiko Nagase? The feared RT Solvalou? Could the 13th Racing car return? Where will all the racing happen? What music will fuel the "Ridge Racer 8" experience?

This would be the ultimate dream for any Ridge Racer fan to see a true successor to Ridge Racer 7 and continue the franchise. However, these ideas are too good for us, and I'm sure Bandai-NAMCO doesn't care too much to even entertain the thought of "Ridge Racer 8." This is VERY unlikely to happen. The best chance of this happening is if some other dedicated developer makes a Ridge Racer title as authentic and as complete as any true Ridge Racer game.

I hate to wish this to my fellow Ridge Racer fans, but dream on if OPTION 5" is what you are hoping for.

Special Offer

If you want to search for Ridge Racer series games online, please be search around on these sites for "Ridge Racer" listed below. Your involvement is voluntary, but it would be appreciated:


Happy shopping! :)

Retrospective, speculation, and memories... thank you for checking out my blog post regarding celebrating 30 years of Ridge Racer. Here's a question if you care to discuss:

How do you think Bandai-NAMCO should celebrate 30 years of Ridge Racer?

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