Friday, February 15, 2013

V.R. Virtua Racing (Sega Saturn)

Sega's Virtua Racing went from being revolutionary to has-been so quickly, it's enough to give one whiplash.  When it appeared in arcades in the early '90s, it was a sensational hit, a promise of an exciting future of polygon-rendered video games.  By the time the home versions appeared, the technology had already been surpassed, leaving the flat-shaded look in the dust.  That's really too bad, because VR has always been a terrific arcade racing game, and continues to be fun today.

I've always been in the minority on this, but I always enjoyed Saturn's Virtua Racing.  Naturally, I would have preferred that AM2 handled the translation, instead of Time Warner Interactive (aka Atari Games), but even they were struggling with the Saturn hardware in those early months.  And given the shoddy quality of those early software titles, this game can proudly stand tall...Ghen War, Black Fire, Bug, NHL All-Star Hockey...ugh, what a sorry state of affairs.

Saturn Virtua Racing improves upon the arcade original, expanding to ten racetracks, numerous types of cars, and a season mode.  I think the designs work fairly well, and integrates nicely to the arcade's three courses.  The computer-controlled cars are fairly aggressive, and it's always a fight to gain (and hold) the lead.  The music is especially impressive, booming bass, crystal-clear CD audio, mixing with the wheezing of the engines and squeal of the tires.

I think this game's sins are largely of omission.  In 1995, people were drawn to Playstation's lush 3D graphics, especiialy games like Warhawk and Ridge Racer and especially Wipeout.  It's a bit unfair to expect Virtua Racing to compare with such next-generation flash.  But such was the Saturn's fate, a day late and a dollar short.  It's also true that TWI's Saturn conversion was a step below the arcade, visually.  Whatever, it's all quibbling.  I'll give this title a solid 7/10, be thankful for the old-school charm and warm memories.

Here's a gameplay video to enjoy:

No comments: