Ridge racer was a North American launch title, and is a port of the arcade game of the same name.
The game features three variations of the same track, a short, easy track and two successively longer and more challenging track variations. While it would have been nice to have three completely different tracks (like Daytona USA on the Sega Saturn), the three tracks in Ridge Racer have enough individuality to keep the game interesting although it cuts down on the replay value.
A normal race pits the player against 11 other racers in a 2 or 3 lap race, depending on the track. The player can also choose to race in a “time trial” mode against one other car, but only on the most difficult track. There are 4 cars available to choose from, each with different strengths and weaknesses in 4 categories; acceleration, handling, traction, and maximum speed. 8 additional cars can be unlocked by killing every creature on the Galaxian loading screen that appears when the game in launched.
Reminiscent of Outrun, the player can choose between 6 music tracks to listen to while driving, but since the game completely loads itself into the Playstation’s RAM, the one can insert their own music CD into the drive once the game has finished loading. The game also includes a “music player” mode which allows the player to listen to the tracks on the CD without having to enter a race.
Ridge Racer runs smoothly and has crisp, colorful graphics that look great for a launch title. Despite not having analog controller support due to its age, the game controls well and the ability to power slide through turns adds to the fun.
My only complaint about the gameplay is that bumping into the back of another car even if only slightly slows your car down considerably, which is frustrating when you are cut off by another driver. While the difficulty is not scalable, the difficulty level is fairly well placed.
This is a game that should be enjoyed by any fan of the arcade racing genre. It is worth noting that a slightly updated version of the game is included as a bonus disc in the later Playstation release, Ridge Racer Type 4.