Republished on Saturday, 18th March, 2023: We’re bringing this overview again from the archives following the announcement of March 2023’s PS Plus line up. The unique textual content follows.
Push Sq. has contemplated the infancy of 3D console graphics through the 32-bit period, and mirrored that the ageing course of was not at all times visually type, particularly to PS1 launch video games. Some early titles like Leaping Flash! disguise their pixelated wrinkles behind vivid colors and plain fashions, whereas others like Battle Area Toshinden appear creaky with well-worn textures at present. Due to this fact, it feels nice to overview Ridge Racer Kind 4 — generally known as R4: Ridge Racer Kind 4 in Japan and North America — as a result of Namco’s arcade drift racer has aged splendidly inside the context of the capabilities of the fifth era, since its European launch on the tail finish of PS1’s lifespan in 1999.
The December 1998 preview — throughout the identical month because the Japanese launch of R4 — in Problem 113 of Digital Gaming Month-to-month journal titled ‘One thing To Lastly Kick Gran Turismo’s Ass’ defined that, “the Ridge Racers have at all times been about high-speed motion quite than technical accuracy. R4 will probably be no totally different, however will push the very limits of the PlayStation by way of graphical presentation. Rumoured to be Namco’s final recreation for Sony’s field (as a result of the system cannot be pushed any more durable).”
As reinforcement to EGM’s level, in John Linneman’s frankly superlative protection of outdated video games for DF Retro — on this case a technical evaluation video about Ridge Racer Kind 4 on Digital Foundry — he praises it as among the best trying racing video games on the platform, describing an environment unprecedented on the PlayStation. He applauds the pre-rendered introduction film with mascot Reiko Nagase as being magical in 1999, and commends the sport for constantly hitting its goal of 30fps.
Namco has added particulars to the eight programs within the Actual Racing Roots ’99 Grand Prix by setting Ridge Racer Kind 4 throughout seasons from Could to December in 1999, and the builders have linked the observe design’s areas collectively, whether or not the programs are in Japan or America. For instance, when you take a look at the left aspect of the circuit structure for the Could early-evening, peach sunset-lit Wonderhill course, after which examine it to the November afternoon mint-blue sky setting of the Heaven and Hell observe, you may discover they share a portion of one another’s Japanese, Fukuoka circuits. You may probably realise the tracks hyperlink collectively subconsciously, ranging from while you drive below the cables of the suspension bridge.
This makes the programs extra memorable, as does the roadside surroundings that pertains to Namco’s gaming heritage. Consequently, Race 1 of the Closing GP known as Phantomile — named after the wonderful PS1 2.5D platformer Klonoa: Door to Phantomile — and as you race alongside to a tune known as Motor Species with a pulse-rate pumping bass, you may move each Pac-Man and Pooka from Dig Dug peering over billboards. The race earlier than this additionally shares a Yokohama backdrop, however this time the Out of Blue course has a calming and relaxed vibe because of the stunning Lucid Rhythms piano tune as your automotive powerslides across the ridge of a harbour, previous a lighthouse, beneath the gliding seagulls.
All of this environment builds in direction of Ridge Racer Kind 4’s eighth and final course — Taking pictures Hoops set in Los Angeles — as Race 4 of the Closing GP is about at 11:45pm on New 12 months’s Eve, in 1999. The announcer declares, “Okay it’s the ultimate lap, maintain your cool”, and you are feeling cool drifting via a night-time cityscape, previous a helicopter with a highlight. When you look upwards you may see Galaxian enjoying on the overhead display screen, because the vocalist sings “transferring to the beat, Ridge Racer” within the tune Movin’ in Circles. You may even have refined your driving abilities by realising that you do not essentially must brake or drift at throughout Taking pictures Hoops’ corners, so you may preserve your automotive’s most pace.
After a wonderful hour it is satisfying while you beat the Grand Prix to place your toes up, and relish the funky finish credit tune Ridge Racer (One Extra Win). You possibly can then have fun your victory via appreciation of the beautiful digital dance soundtrack, together with the vocals of Kimara Lovelace, and the musical contributions of composers like Hiroshi Okubo. At this level you could nicely declare your love for this PS1 racing recreation.
The traditional Ridge Racer quick arcade-style racing gameplay is unbroken, regardless that it is not truly based mostly on a coin-op. Therefore, the AI of competing racing groups continues to be aggressive and they’ll block you from passing, or side-barge you into tunnel partitions. The leaders of the racing pack are significantly desperate to cease you from overtaking, however the problem curve is gratifyingly balanced. Regardless, your nerves will nonetheless construct as through the second warmth you will need to end at the very least in second place, and within the ultimate spherical’s final 4 races you will need to at all times end first.
Fittingly, you may nonetheless impede your AI rivals by watching your rear view mirror within the inner automotive view, and drift round them as you grasp the responsive controls. You may also select the Grip methodology of automotive dealing with the place you scale back pace utilizing the accelerator to time clearing a pointy nook, however most Ridge Racer followers will clearly desire the Drift methodology of turning sharply into the curve and setting the tail of the automotive right into a satisfying slide, because it’s synonymous with the collection.
Though it roughly takes lower than one hour to finish all eight programs within the Grand Prix, there’s additionally a special story for every of the 4 groups, and they’re assigned a set problem based mostly upon the tuning of their vehicles. Due to this fact, say you beat the sport with the Regular tuning of Pac Racing Membership (PRC) — and uncover why its supervisor Yazaki is obsessed concerning the dying of an ace driver known as Giuliano — you may nonetheless have three different group tales to play via. You possibly can then strive the Onerous problem of Solvalou, or the Skilled tuning of Dig Racing Group (DRT).
There are three predominant save recreation factors scattered all through the Grand Prix, though it is advisable to manually save your recreation straight after you beat the eight tracks to maintain any vehicles or modes that you have unlocked. You possibly can unlock a complete of 321 racing autos (together with a hidden automotive that may be a giant Pac-Man on wheels), in addition to an Additional Trial mode, and reverse tracks for Time Assault and Vs Battle multiplayer showdowns. The Vs Battle is a primary split-screen one-on-one race on a single course, the place you may configure the variety of laps and assign as much as two laptop managed vehicles — which retains the observe from feeling too empty, however would not issue into the results of the precise two-player race.
An additional little bit of celebratory Champagne cork popping for avid gamers was the inclusion of a separate Ridge Racer Hello-Spec Demo disc included in Ridge Racer Kind 4’s recreation field, which was a enjoyable bonus, with an up to date 60fps and gouraud shaded conversion of the unique 1993 arcade recreation. In any case, enjoying Ridge Racer Kind 4 once more is a reminder of how nice gaming was in 1999. It is the top of the 4 Ridge Racer video games on PS1, and compares favourably when pitted in opposition to the competitors of Daytona USA and Sega Rally Championship on the Saturn. Due to this fact, rekindling recollections of arcade racing via a superb PS1 recreation that has aged in addition to Ridge Racer Kind 4 may give you a glimpse of feeling R4-ever younger.
Namco’s builders have been adept at squeezing nice technical performances out of the 32-bit PlayStation — particularly with late fifth era video games like Tekken 3 — and in 1999 Ridge Racer Kind 4 stayed steadily on observe at attaining its 30fps goal and slick circuit designs. The environment from course particulars provides fine-tuning to the graphics, which is boosted by a powerful dance soundtrack by musicians like Hiroshi Okubo, with additional pizzazz offered by Kimara Lovelace’s vocals. The arcade-style gameplay delivered a enjoyable and quick distinction to Gran Turismo’s sim racing, and it confidently tail-slid alongside the perfect Nintendo 64 and SEGA Saturn drift and blue sky racers. As a Namco racing recreation it holds pole place amongst the 4 PS1 Ridge Racer titles, placing the pedal to the metallic en path to Ridge Racer Kind 4 changing into a real PlayStation traditional.