Sega Ages Virtua Racing Presents A Classic But Aged Racing Experience

By Alistair Wong . April 30, 2019 . 5:00pm

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With Sega Ages getting something new on the Switch in the form of the first arcade-accurate port of Virtua Racing, I was eager to jump in and find out what the fuss was all about. Virtua Racing is the product of the experimental 3D graphics board Model 1 by Sega, and thanks to the game’s success, it would be used as a basis for other games like Virtua Fighter, and its code would even end up being used for the Model 2 board’s Daytona USA.

 

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What I found within the game was something that was still fun even in this day and age. Similar to other racing arcade games, in singleplayer mode your largest concern is by far getting to the various checkpoints in order to increase the timer, with becoming first place being the secondary objective. You can choose one out of three tracks, and choose between automatic or manual, with the red-colored racer you use being predetermined.

 

 

 

Like other arcade racers, I didn’t really need to let go of the gas pedal, as the game experience is very focused on feeling the speed that can reach up to 320km/h in-game. Instead, the key to the game is making sure to steer precisely, and during tight corners, apply the brakes sparingly to make sure you don’t spin out. The game is very tight, but also is designed around this, as making any mistakes that lead to a spin out is basically a death knell for finishing the race at all, even on the easiest course.

 

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Presentation-wise, M2 has done a fine job of remastering the polygon graphics into sharp HD that feel like you could cut your hand on the edges. While no Ridge Racer, the graphics hold up for the period that the game was made in, although some collision detection for the sides of the course seem a bit off compared to the presented graphics. It’s interesting to note how Virtua Racing (or rather, the special Virtua Formula release) was one of the early widescreen games, which helped its rerelease on the Switch.

 

Sadly, the game lacks any music beyond what is played during checkpoints, and I really felt this when playing. Growing up on games like Side by Side Special really spoiled me in terms of presentation, and the silence is palpable in this regard. As for what tracks are played, you can hear them separately if you want in a music player that M2 has added in the Options menu.

 

Finally, I did try out the online mode with a random online player, and sadly it seems that not much has improved since Puyo Puyo, the previous released game in the Sega Ages line. Not only were there constant stuttering delays, I lost track of the number of times the game would seemingly ignore my inputs, leading to an embarrassingly large number of spin outs. You’re far better off playing the local multiplayer of up to 8 players at once, which is definitely the highlight out of the bonus features M2 has added with this rerelease. Of course, there are online leaderboards for your singleplayer times as well.

 

Overall, perhaps just as appropriately, Virtua Racing is as simple as you can get, presenting three different courses in now-primitive 3D polygon graphics that kickstarted a classic genres conversion into 3D. While the gameplay holds up the its original high standards, presentation is aged in terms of graphics and woefully lacking in the music department, and that can be a turn off depending on what you like in a game like this. It’s great for the collection, or to experience a core part of gaming history with wonderful,  tight, old-school gameplay; but unless you’re into the local versus aspect, you might be better off buying OutRun instead.


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