Friday, 1 July 2011

Top Five Dreamcast Racing Games

Unlike the poor old Saturn which came before it, the Dreamcast was positively heaving with top quality racing games and a sizeable percentage of my time with Sega's final console was spent playing them. On launch day I bought Sega Rally 2 along with a steering wheel and, while the wheel proved rather tricky for controlling that particular game, I soon had plenty of others games to use it with. Not since Burnout 2 was released on the GameCube have I spent so much time on a console playing one particular genre and my trusty DC (or a DC - they're hardly the most durable consoles ever!) still occupies a lot of my time. This was one of the hardest Top Fives to compile so far, but here are the games I settled on:

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I've traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven't played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. Hydro Thunder (1999)

Racing games generally come in two flavours - arcade and simulation - and this multi-platform release from Midway is very much the former! It features a collection of half-boat, half-spaceships which must be raced at super-speeds around a similar assortment of highly creative courses set over rivers and various other waterways. It only has one mode which is a basic arcade mode, and it's a tough game too - new boats and courses are only available upon successful completion of the preceding courses (and in a good position too!) and this is dependent on collecting and using the numerous 'boost' icons. Hydro Thunder might not have much depth but it is a hell of an entertaining racer. One long, non-stop adrenaline rush of a game!

4. Sega Rally 2 (1999)

Much was expected of this sequel to the crown jewel of the Saturn. In my opinion it lived up to the expectation but I don't think it was particularly popular for some reason. Maybe it's because the Dreamcast was much better catered for than the Saturn but it's still rather mystifying to me - this game features the same, slidy, arcade-style handling as its predecessor, but gave the player the choice of many times more cars and courses as well. On top of that, there was a several play modes, including the splendid '10 Year Championship' mode and lovely graphics including some fantastic weather effects. With all this in mind, Rally 2 should've been more popular than the first game, not less! Nevermind, I still loved you, Rally 2. You gave me many hours of superb, bumpy, racing action and continue to entertain today.

3. Speed Devils (1999)

Granted, this isn't the most spectacular of the Dreamcast's racing games, at least at first glance, and it's not the most popular one either, but it's arguably the one I've spent most time playing. One of the main reasons I love it is the handling of the cars which is very smooth and perfect for my DC steering wheel! It also features a fantastic career mode which sees you racing through numerous divisions, each home to several other drivers who you can make bets with and form rivalries with. There are also a good few cars to unlock and modify and some awesome themed courses which all feature unique, not to mention highly original, hazards and obstacles. The graphics and music aren't the best, and it's a pretty easy game, but I just can't help but love it.

2. Sega GT (2000)

Yes, it's probably one of the most blatant rip-offs there has ever been, but the lack of Gran Turismo on the Dreamcast made this a most welcome, if somewhat shameless release by Sega. It copies more or less everything from Sony's landmark game, even the annoying license tests (although they're far more manageable here), but it does throw in a few ideas of its own too. One of these is the ability to create your very own car! I've created several including some ridiculous spaceship-like contraptions, but they can all be raced as normal. As you might expect, there's also a staggeringly large selection of real cars to buy and modify too, including several manufacturers not found in Sony's effort. There's loads of competitions to get stuck into aswell. The only down-side to this great game is the slightly wonky car handling but it's okay when you get used to it. An exciting game with a lot to do.

1. Le Mans 24 Hour (1999)

Released as part of the Test Drive series in the States, this superb game wasn't very well known for some reason. I had never heard of it when I saw it in a shop but I took a chance on it which more than paid off! It has quick race, championship, time trial, and multi-player modes but the main attraction for me was the Le Mans mode itself which is a real test of endurance, even in digital form! You can race a shortened version if desired too but either way the racing action here is of the highest order. It's a perfect blend of arcade and simulation and features some of the finest graphics to be found on the DC including some fantastic attention to detail. Even the PS2 version can't match this amazing game. It may not have the quantity of cars or courses as other games but what it does, it does better than any other game, not only on the Dreamcast, but on most systems!

As mentioned, the Dreamcast played host to a lot of driving/racing games and I've certainly greatly enjoyed more than just the five listed here, so honourable mentions also go to: F355 Challenge (technically amazing but very difficult), Vanishing Point (wonky handling but fast and exciting), Metropolis Street Racer (haven't played properly as it uses an entire memory card but it looks great), Crazy Taxi (awesome conversion and great fun in short bursts), and Rush 2049 (great arcadey action with creative courses).

Special Note: I do own original copies of all the games listed here (even the honourable mentions), but due to my inability to emulate the Dreamcast I had to try and rely on the internet to find screenshots, and it was a pain in the arse. I'd therefore like to take this opportunity to say a big FUCK YOU! to the ridiculous tossers who tag their screenshots. Yes, I'm looking at you Gamespot, IGN, C&VG, and all the rest of you. Grrrr!


  1. You know what? Despite my full-on love for the Dreamcast, I don't think I've ever played one of its many racing games! Of course, I'm not much of a racing-game fan. Daytona USA is about the only "real" (i.e. non-Mario Kart) racer I've ever loved, although I loved the hell out of the Saturn version of that game :) (Day-ee-tow-na, let's go away!!) How is the DC version of that game, BTW? Oh, and I'll definitely give Sega Rally 2 a try thanks to your recommendation. I enjoyed the first one (again, on the Saturn) and never played the DC version, for some weird reason...

  2. This post actually makes me want to go out and get a Dreamcast. I like racing games on more recent consoles, along with baseball and watching DVDs they are pretty much the only thing I use my PS2 for. That Hydro Thunder one in particular looks like a good one!

  3. I would've spent a lot more time on the DC if it was nice and quiet like the Saturn. Every DC I've had sounded like a 747 and was easily as noisy as my 76 core PC with 8 hard drives and 14 case fans... :(

  4. @Bryan - Oops, I forgot about Daytona! I've actually got it but never got around to playing it much. From what I could tell, it's great if you like the previous games, but the other DC racing games are so good, they made me forget about it!

    @Sean - I with you regarding racing games on more modern consoles - it's all they're good for! :P Hydro Thunder is crazy but great too. There's actually a download-only sequel on the current systems :)

    @Luke - Sorry buddy! I guess the DC is quite noisy but it never bothered me in the slightest, I'm always more focused on the games themselves ;)

  5. Good choice of games there... I think I might have to dig out the Dreamcast and have another go at Sega Rally 2 (and MSR - that was really good).

    The Dreamcast was such an underrated console.

  6. I certainly agree there - it could've had some amazing games if people weren't so blindly loyal to Sony. It was a very sad day for me when Sega announced they were dropping it. I've not been into 'current' gaming since... :'(

  7. Have to say that I hated Speed Devils. Sorry :(

    Then again, the only reason I really bought a Dreamcast a few years back was for the fighting games such as CvS and MvC which were leagues ahead of the crippled PS1 ports.

    I loved Sega Rally and Daytona on the Saturn so I guess I reckon I'd be disappointed with the DC updates...

  8. No need to apologise, I can understand Speed Devil's not being everyone's cup of tea :)

    Yes, the DC did have some good fighting games, huh? I don't like those tag team ones but Third Strike is amazing!

    I also liked Rally and Daytona on the Saturn. I never did get around to playing the DC version of the latter much (must rectify that!) but I like Rally 2 a lot. I don't understand the stick it gets from Rally 1 fans, I thought they'd love it!

  9. This game is amazing, it is the only game that lets you race a 24 hours and has prototypes of cars more cool that the simulation is not as good as gt3.

  10. These games awesome. I like these all games. Hence I did not played all games. Few of them I have played. In that I really enjoyed a lot.

  11. It's a real shame Hydro Thunder is one of the few games that do not work in VGA mode on Dreamcast. So I look forward to one day playing this on XBLA....

  12. That is a shame. Luckily, there's a sequel on XBLA - Hydro Thunder Hurricane. I want to play it (>_<)

  13. My favorite DC racing game is Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2 (Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 in europe if I rememberr well)

  14. Hi Mr. XyNo, thanks for dropping by ;) Yes, I remember that game - it had some nice features but was just too limited for my tastes. Maybe I'll give it another try though.