Thursday, July 25, 2024

Four Racing Games That Brought Something New to the Racing Genre.

( I’ve never been big on racing games. Sometimes, a game like Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit will come along and pique my interest. That was the same case with the reboot from 2010. Racing games with a little something different really catch my attention.

Let’s look at four racing games that added something different that run-the-route-this-many-times.

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998)

The little something extra added here involved police chases during races. It made perfect sense as these were illegal, dangerous street races and oddly no one was involving themselves to stop the races. They just continued on until there was a winner. With the addition of police chases, the races were even more urgent.

See, racing games have a tendency to get sweaty. You’re holding a tight lead or you’re gaining for that first or second place. It felt like a lot was weighing on those races. Of course, in future games more would be added which gave you a tangible weight to your races.

Now it can be reputation or in-game currency. There’s something to gain from every race and your position really matters. With racing games of the late 90s, it was just the race. Winning was the weight whereas now, that’s not enough.

So, adding just a new mechanic such as a police chase really came off as a big thing for the genre. It was also that something extra that made this slight detour special spawned a side series for the NfS franchise. Honestly, it wasn’t even a detour as it was a separate mode.

Plus, it was greatly improved from the previous games that it should’ve been the main mode. Hot Pursuit was a truly something new and the Pursuit mode really added to the races.

Need for Speed III - Hot Pursuit

Road Rash (1991)

There was no shortage of motorcycle racing games after Excitebike came out. It had the same formula as your usual racing games from a decade prior. Some games just looked and played better would be the main differences between them.

Then Sega came out with the Sega Genesis and you began seeing games with an edge. That black cartridge always packed an experience that was a lot different from what Nintendo was offering at the same time. It was a different attitude and even the sports games reflected this.

That brings us to another EA game in Road Rash. What it added to racing games is violence. That’s all. The same thing we do in any action game and many adventure games: bashing, slashing, and kicking. Road Rash was basically Death Race 2000 on motorcycles.

Races took within an obviously illegal competition where maiming or killing other racers was fine. The game takes place in the present day 1990s, so nothing post-apocalyptic here. Although, the battles on bikes are something you’d see in Mad Max.

That what I loved about Road Race: you weren’t guaranteed to finish the race in one piece. If anything, you were guaranteed to fly off your bike a few times or get killed here and there. These races were vicious even in early 90s graphics.

Even more vicious was our third entry.

Carmageddon (1997)

Explaining Carmageddon is pretty simple. If you’ve ever seen Death Race 2000 or the reboots: that’s Carmaggedon. It was Road Rash with cars, basically. Violence on the road is encouraged and there are plenty of weapons to use. It took the Road Rash approach of having a race but throwing in some violence.

I’d say the main difference here is that the setting is entirely different. Whereas the Road Rash races were pretty much illegal as the police would show up sometimes, the races in this game were sport. The level of violence in Carmageddon did cause a controversy at the time surrounding video game violence but no more than Mortal Kombat and Doom did, honestly.

Overall, it added something new from the tried-and-true racing game formula by bringing an older concept. Also, it was a timely game for the period. Games were becoming more violent in the late 90s and more M-rated games were popping up.

Carmageddon really wasn’t too out of place with the times.

Super Mario Kart (1992)

Nintendo is no stranger to racing games on its consoles and handhelds but when it released Super Mario Kart, it spawned a new subgenre in racing games and a popular series in its Super Mario franchise. Super Mario Kart touched on the vehicle combat subgenre in racing games but was also the start of the superstar racing and kart racing subgenres.

The premise was simple: Nintendo had all of these iconic characters from—at that time—a decade of video games. “How can we put them all in one game?” You’d figure that would be a hard question for any developer but Nintendo managed to make several series off of doing that: Mario Golf, Mario Party, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Mario Strikers, and the …at the Olympic Games series.

Those are just a few as I’m certain I’m missing a couple. The point remains: Nintendo knows how to use its characters outside of just their own games. As for Super Mario Kart, Nintendo just put its characters—most of which were cartoonish in nature at the time—into go-karts.

Throw in some iconic race tracks, some item use, and some dangerous shells and you’ve got a racing game that really changed how racing could be presented. It could be fun, over-the-top, or cartoonish and still do well.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!