About 2 weeks after the launch of the PS1 in the USA, a buddy of mine who bought about every console in those days, said “We need to get the new Sony console. I read great stuff about how good it looks. Plus, we can link them up!” I was still pretty heavy into my Genesis, and didn’t know if I wanted another console, but after playing Ridge Racer at the store, I was sold.
A launch title (Namco 94-95), with 7 other games (I bought 2, and will talk about the other tomorrow), Ridge Racer truly felt like an arcade game. The graphics were a huge step up from my Sega product, and with the nifty music blaring on my 26 inch RCA (still have it), I finally had a good-size monitor to enjoy the 3D-goodness.
In Ridge Racer, there were the usual game modes, Time Trials and easy/medium/hard. You raced with 12 cars, trying to beat them (to unlock) and your previous low times. The music pumped throughout, and in a new twist, you could take out the game CD and put in music of your own while still playing. The different cars didn’t vary much, and they seemed to control about the same…except for the elusive Black Car.
The Black Car was the Holy Grail of the game. After you defeated the other modes and cars, you were able to take on the evil one. If you could defeat it, you would own it. Namco’s version of The Crossroads. One of the most difficult ‘bosses’ I ever faced, the only way to win was to run a perfect race…meaning if you scraped a wall, or skidded too much on a turn, the sumbitch would pass you and you’d never catch up. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that challenge, and still fondly remember the day of victory. With the powerful engine and control of The Black Car, you could improve your times even more.
Other goodies included turning around and driving the tracks in mirrored-look, as well as changing your driving view.
Overall, it was a special game that was needed at that time. The console that (in my opinion) was the biggest jump in technology from the previous ones started off with an almost-perfect arcade port. It was beautiful and it was fun. It may not stand the test of time with a ton a sequels that were pumped-out, but will always hold a special memory for me.