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Ridge Racer Revolution Review Rewind

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On 12/05/2016 at 01:00 AM by Jamie Alston

Over the Highway

Though not a major overhaul from the first game, Revolution is a pretty good time as long as you don’t mind the arcade physics that the early Ridge Racer games were known for.

I’ve always enjoyed the early Ridge Racer series. I fondly remember playing the original game over a friend’s house, wishing that I had a PlayStation of my own to play it on. It was very accessible and didn’t take a tremendous effort to make it past the learning curve. And not much has changed here in Ridge Racer Revolution. On the surface, it plays much like its predecessor. It even starts off with a Galaga ‘88 mini-game similar to the Galaxian one in previous game. Some regard Revolution as “Ridge Racer 1.5” due its similarities to the original, which is somewhat understandable since this game went for full price upon its initial release. Even so, Ridge Racer Revolution received a few nice tweaks that made it a decent step up from its predecessor.

Mostly notably, the gameplay options have taken a more customizable approach. Revolution was the first in the series game to offer a 2-player racing mode (via link cable) featuring different courses than in the single player races. If you’re familiar with the first game, you may recall that the novice and mid-level courses were the same-- the only difference being the mid-level course lasting for three laps instead of two. But this time in Revolution, each skill level has its own branching section of the track. Additionally, you can race in Time Trial mode on any course, instead of being limited to the expert track.

Each course also has a new Free Run mode that allows you to drive to your heart’s content and learn the courses so you won't be distracted attempting to do so in the actual races. Within this mode, you can also select the type of engine for your car which is great if you want to race on a lower skill level without being forced to drive at the slowest speed setting if you don’t want to. After winning each race under the initial 3 skill levels, you’ll unlock “extra” tracks which are the exact same courses as before, only in reverse direction. Though it’s a simple change, it’s surprisingly challenging to memorize each hairpin turn in the opposite order.

Unfortunately, the same major annoyance from the original game is also present here. Namely, collisions have the “bumper car effect” where hitting another car from behind bumps it further ahead of you. Interestingly enough, it seemed like one of the other cars frequently managed to get in my way just when I’m about to navigate a tight curve. It’s really annoying to lose your momentum on a corner, especially if you were drifting into the turn. However, on a more positive note, a rear-view mirror was added to the first-person viewpoint. This makes it a lot easier to block the rival car that used to always sneak up on you in the previous game.

There are 15 cars total that you can eventually choose from; only 4 of which are available at the start of the game. Eight more can be unlocked by winning the mini-game when the disc first loads up, so it’s really possible to have those 8 vehicles at the outset quite easily. The cars are exactly the same models as the ones in the first game, but with slightly different paint jobs on some. Needless to say, Namco was pretty lazy about coming up with new design choices for those cars. Also unlockable are the #13 Devil and Devil Jr. cars, as well as a brand new #0 White Angel car.

As you might expect, each car has its own rating for speed, handling, and so on. But again, all the statistics are mostly the same as they were in the original Ridge Racer. Even so, most of them are pretty fun to drive. There are a few that I never bother with because they handle like tanks and accelerate even worse (I’m looking you, green Xevious car). My personal favorites are the Devil and Angle cars because they’re insanely fast and handle like a dream.

Revolution is often criticized for looking no differently visually than the previous game, but a closer examination says otherwise. While it does have an identical style to Ridge Racer, the resolution in this game is much better. The grainy effects are gone and the frame-rate is smoother than before. In short, Revolution better reflects its arcade roots visually than the first game did.

The track design is easier on the eyes, although it still follows the same beach-to-highway routine. But this is where having 3 separate course elements comes in handy. If you prefer to just take in the beach scenery, race on the Beginner section. If you'd rather roll through the rocky region and check out the lighthouse, go for the Intermediate course. And if you prefer to cut through the mountains and test those steep corners, the expert course has your fix. Despite the limited track selections, you at least get to explore certain parts that you won't see on the others. It's a much improved design choice over the first game.

Having played Revolution for years now, I know the soundtrack like the back of my hand. Namco stuck with the choice of a supercharged European techno/rock combination for most of the songs, all to good effect for the game. Sure, the tunes are outdated by today's standards, but Ridge Racer fans like me can’t help but to love it. It's part of what set the series apart from the Need for Speeds of the day. There are more tracks to be heard this time around including new songs like "Grip" and "Over the Highway" (My two personal favorites).

Namco also managed to sneak in a number of remixes from the first game as well such as "Rare Hero 2", "Rotterdam Nation '94", and "Rhythm Shift Remix", just to name a few. Yet again, this game is sometimes put in a negative light because of having remixed tracks as opposed to an all new soundtrack, but if you enjoyed the original Ridge Racer soundtrack then you'll welcome this one too. There's a good balance between the number of new and remixed songs on here; about half and half.

Ridge Racer Revolution ends up being quite a likable follow up to the original game. While some prefer to see it as a carbon copy with a fresh coat of paint, a more detailed look reveals notable improvements and quality workmanship. Sure, certain aspects of the game didn’t receive the overhaul that is sometimes expected of sequels, but such was often the case with most quick arcade-to-home ports of Namco games at the time. Revolution doesn't take much time to complete, so it's perfect for short play sessions that also provide a sense of accomplishment. As of the date of this review, none of the PSOne Ridge Racer titles have made it to the PlayStation Store yet, which is a bit baffling. Thankfully, Revolution won't cost you much at most online stores. If you're a fan of the early Ridge Racer series or you skipped over this one previously, definitely pick this one up for yourself.

Ridge Racer Revolution (PS1) by NigelAshcraft

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

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Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Cary Woodham

12/05/2016 at 03:11 AM

I didn't really get into the Ridge Racer games until Ridge Racer Type 4, but after that I was hooked.  I even went back and bought some of the older Ridge Racer games on the PSOne after that.

What's really cool is that the arcade Ridge Racer game is one of the few video games my dad really got into.  In fact, many years later, while I was playing RR64, my dad walked by and said, "Hey, isn't that Ridge Racer?"  He recognized the game simply by looking at the screen, which is something my dad usually doesn't do!

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

12/05/2016 at 08:39 AM

Yeah, Ridge Racer Type 4 was the pinnacle of the RR series. still is in my opionion. I always enjoy hearing that a later sequel in a series was so well liked that it motivates someone to check out earlier games in the series. I'm just like that too.

Isn't it great when a friend or relative who doesn't play video games often can still recognize a particular series even years later? Gives me the warm and fuzzies.


12/06/2016 at 10:27 PM

My first Ridge Racer game, like Cary, was R4. However, the version of R4 I got also came with a disc containing Ridge Racer and RR Revolution. It's too bad it didn't also have Rage Racer on it.

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