racing game round-up march 2021

Today was the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix. This means that F1 season is starting up again (I mean, I guess racing season itself is too, if you ignore the IMSA Endurance races and the Mazda Cup). With that in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back that thing I do where I play some racing games and then say if they’re good or not. Maybe even make it a monthly thing. The season being over should also explain why I haven’t been doing this for a while.

Initial Drift Online

Before I begin this, quick shout out to my friend, Miffy The Gaming Goddess, for showing me this game.

Initial Drift Online is an open-world street racing game that is currently in Steam Early Access. The elevator pitch for this would probably be “Burnout Paradise meets Initial D.” You drive around various parts of Japan known for their street racing culture, racing other players or delivering tofu for cash, which you then use to either upgrade or buy a new car. It’s a bit bare-bones at the moment, but what’s there is fun enough. Admittedly, it did take me a while to get used to the car handling. I’m so used to games that emphasize you using the brake and slowing down on corners, rather than games like this, where you just spin to win through them. Also, some of the adjustments you can make to your car might not actually work yet. So there’s a bit of a learning curve to IDO.

Now I will say that earning money can be a bit tedious; driving back and forth down long, long, long winding roads to deliver tofu isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. But it’s worth it when you have a car that can actually hold its own in a race. I am looking forward to seeing Initial Drift’s progress, and come back to this once there’s some more stuff to do. As it is, I kind of have to keep this write-up short, as there isn’t much else to say. Mostly wanted to plug a nice little indie game I played. It’s fun and it’s cheap. So put on your favorite Eurobeat and take some corners.

Ridge Racer 7

After about two years of pulling out my hair, banging my head on the wall, and not getting anything resembling a straight answer from the internet, I finally got my PS3 modded yesterday! I’ll get around to doing a post on that once I get more than two games on there. Anyways. One of those two games was Ridge Racer 7, because you need a Ridge Racer on your Playstation console, even if you get it about 14 years too late.

For a game that came in 2007, early in the PS3’s life, Ridge Racer still looks really good. I shouldn’t be so shocked, since Namco games always have an amazing art style and a timeless look, but it’s still interesting to see a game developed during a tumultuous period for the PS3 not look like hot garbage. It should go without saying that it sounds good too. I mean, duh, Ridge Racer always has great music. It has some sick EDM, as racing games should, but it also features a couple of songs from this nameless genre that seems to exist mostly in Japanese video games. You know the kind, with the somber piano set to unusual techno beats, sometimes suddenly shifting into a different sound altogether. RR7 does it, Phantasy Star Online does it, Opoona does it, Tekken 7 does it, Blue Reflection (fuck) does it. Whatever it is, I fucking love it.

Ridge Racer 7 owns. This is the kind of racing game you play if you’re only in the mood for “car go fast brrr,” and don’t feel like constantly having to make adjustments and do hard things like look at numbers. I don’t mean that as an insult; sometimes you just want to feel the sensation of going fast in a hurry. When you come to grips with how the cars handle, playing well is so goddamn satisfying. Getting that perfect drift that fills up your boost gauge (this game has a boost gauge now), and leaving the other cars in your dust is so good. A term you could use to describe Ridge Racer 7, or any Ridge Racer for matter, is “effortless style.” Playing well takes time, but it looks so easy when you get it.

i’m thinkin’ about dig-dug

If there’s any game you decide to play after reading this post, please make it Ridge Racer.

Cosmic Race

Now we’re going from an early PS3 game, to an early PS1 game.You may not know about this game, as it never left Japan. A pretty good reason as to why it never left Japan is because Cosmic Race is widely considered one of the worst games on the system. And boy, is it ever! Mostly because it controls like absolute shit, is somehow completely nonsensical despite being a racing game, and is said that a good chunk of the game’s graphics are default assets from the Playstation Development Kit. Actually playing the game feels legitimately unfinished. I don’t mean unfinished in the sense that one or two things feel rushed, but there is still a whole product, like most games. No, I mean unfinished as in, if I released a demo of one of the games I’m working on to Itchio.biz right now, it would be as much of a game as Cosmic Race.

This was as far as I got in Gran Prix mode. The rival car (the only one you have to beat, despite there being like a dozen flying cars in front of you at any given time) goes super fast, and I could never get used to the control scheme of strafing with the d-pad and turning with the face buttons. You won’t get used to it, either.

It is extremely not good. Which, of course, also makes it great for all the wrong reasons. The secret to Cosmic Race is to not actually play the racing mode. This sounds weird, I know, but there is another mode to the game that is almost enjoyable. In it, you fly around looking for three markers as quickly as possible. This is pretty much impossible, as the markers will randomly disappear and reappear, and your guide are two arrows pointing you in completely arbitrary directions. You’ll never finish this mode, either. But what I do like about it is simply floating around in this low-poly world where nothing makes sense. It’s almost kind of scary; it’s like playing a dream. But I love it.

I would liken Cosmic Race to the Playstation equivalent of Death Crimson. Depending on what kind of person you are, this is either a huge recommendation, or a huge condemnation. Check it out.

Well then, that’s three games covered. I think I will return to this some time in the next month, turning it into a feature for the rest of the racing season. Look forward to it!

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