1999 was a remarkable year for games. Some of gaming’s most beloved titles were introduced that year, with many of those titles surviving well into the 2010s and into the present day. These future classics included Super Smash Bros., Marvel Vs. Street Fighter, silent Hilland donkey kong 64.
Still, some of my fondest gaming memories come from racing games. I remember playing two of the biggest racing titles at the time. One was Gran Turismo 2, which may have been a bit advanced for a fourth grader. But the other title gets all my love: Ridge Racer Type 4.
the ridge runner debuted in 1993, with Namco – the first game coinciding with the introduction of the Namco 22 System game system. This system never caught on, so ridge runner was almost always a Playstation exclusive. Aside from some arcade-specific games, during the early to mid-2010s and 2010s, a few games in the series became available on Xbox or Nintendo consoles. Ridge Racer Type 4 was technically the seventh game in the series, but if you exclude arcade exclusives ridge runner 2, Rave Racer, and pocket runnerit was the fourth.
Games, Gran Turismoand ridge runnerdebuted a month apart. Gran Turismo had come and taken first place in the racing game of the ridge runner series, but the series has seen Type 4 as a chance to regain this first place. When he made his debut, Monthly electronic game described it as “Something to finally kick Gran Turismo’s ass.“The game had matured. But it wasn’t quite the racing simulation that Gran Turismo ended up being.
Ridge Racer was specifically designed to be more of an arcade racer than a racing simulation. One of the game’s producers, Motomi Katayama, is quoted as saying:
“I don’t actively avoid a simulation game, but I think an arcade racing game is still the type of racing game that will appeal to the widest audience.”
While there is no definitive public timeline for the game’s development, it is said that the intro movie alone took more than six months produce. And it was a CGI movie that was a little over two minutes long with no dialogue. But at the time it was impressive. The game’s main claim to fame is that it was the first to use Shading Gouraud textures all over.
Gouraud shading was first theorized in 1971 by French computer scientist Henri Gouraud in a paper titled “Continued Sto have Ccurved Ssurfaces.” This’s essentially simulates light and shading. It was a way to make things like shadows and highlights look more natural and realistic. Basically, a calculation must be performed on the area of a polygon perpendicular to another polygon. Lighting calculations are then made for the intensities to achieve the desired effect.
Visually, something like this was unheard of at the time. While impressive, the shading pushed the Playstation’s hardware to its limit. Shading turned out to be the only way to improve graphics due to this hardware limitation.
What’s worse, Type 4 wasn’t even the graphical limitations of the Playstation. According to lead artist Kouno, the ridge runner series had reached its limits a few games in the series. Because of this, it was rumored that the game was going to be the last on the Playstation. This turned out to be true because the two games that followed Type 4, Peak Runner 64 and Ridge Racer Vwere released the following year for Nintendo 64 and Playstation 2.
Type 4 ended up being a business and commercial success selling 1.5 million total number of copies in the United States and Japan. The gameplay was fantastic. It included a story mode that, at first glance, seemed rudimentary, maybe even a little silly. But the script was engaging and had depth. This too gave me my first encounter with drifting in a video game that was described as “power slide”.
Type 4it’s Teams and Builders
The game is four the racing teams are just as interesting. Everyone comes from a different country and based on various classic Namco games:
Dig Race Team: An American team, the name and logo design are based on Dig Dug. The team is kind of the underdog as they have management and funding issues. The team owner is reluctant to increase funding due to his poor performance in the past.
Mappy RC Micro Mouse (RC stands for running club, of course): The team name, design and colors are based on the old game Mappy. A French team is has always been considered ideal for beginners due to the slow French cars, which are used by the team (more on this in a bit). The owner of the team is a young, friendly woman who took over after her grandfather became too ill to care for her.
Pac Racing Club: The name, logo and colors are obviously based on Pac Man. Japanese team is the one to choose for well-balanced cars that won’t be too picky control. As you play the story mode, you learn that the team manager, a famous former racing driver himself, has a dark past. He is infamous for a racing accident that killed his teammate in the 80s. He first comes across as an asshole because of it. But once you learn the truth about what really happened, it changes for the better.
Racing Team Solvalou: The name, the logo and its colors are based on the 1983 game Xevious. Solvalou is THE team in the world of games. The Italian team the manager is very professional and expects nothing but the best from the driver. The team also has unfortunate ties to the Pac Racing Club. The driver who was killed in the accident with the Pac Racing Club manager was the son of the The Solvalou’ teamthe founder. Because of this, there is animosity between the two teams.
Even the cars you drive in the game are interesting. There are 320 car variants in total available to choose from. If you don’t change anything, each race team uses a manufacturer from their home country. But you can mix things up and use, for example, the French manufacturer with the Japanese team. With all these combinations, there are only four fictional car manufacturers in the game:
Lizard: Lizard is an American manufacturer, ddescribed as making muscle cars that are probably the roughest in the game. You can choose everything from a small two-door coupe, the “Fire,” powered by a 3.0 liter V8, for “Nightmare,” a crazy hypercar powered by a thermonuclear fusion engine.
Assoluto: Assoluto is an Italian automobile manufacturer. Iit’s almost a fictional Ferrari, although the drawings of the cars say otherwise. Apparently, the brand is a pioneer in antigravity Technology. Their hypercar, called “Vulcano”uses this technology and floats a few feet off the ground, but is still able to drift.
Solo Age: This Vehicles from French manufacturers are some of the easiest to drive in the game. It is always suggested to start with them and Mirco Mouse Mappy if you are not used to racing games. The combination of the two makes the game suitable for beginners. Even his hypercar is relatively tame by other manufacturer standards: it’s powered by a 4.0-liter V12.
Terrazi: This company is like a fictional Honda. Ridge Racer Type 4 was also the start of the brand as he had not appeared in any previous game in the series. Its base cars are JDM mash-ups. For example, there is a sports coupe called “Ambitious,” which looks like a Toyota Supra A80 combined with a Nissan 300ZX. His hypercar is an electric vehicle called the Destroyer and is powered by two electric motors.
ANo matter how you play the game, either free-ride, time trial or story, East pleasant. Admittedly, the graphics capabilities we now have with consoles may have spoiled us, and it looks a bit old graphically. But that’s ok because it’s still a great game. I recently bought a Playstation mini just so I could enjoy it again and let my son, another racing game fan, experience it too . If you find an old copy, set aside some time to try it out. If you played it as a kid and haven’t picked it up in a while, worth it just for the memories.