Göppingen, 19.01.2017. At RaceChip, we don’t just love getting the best performance out of cars in the real world, we are big racing game fans too. Racing games have been around since the dawn of gaming, resulting in white knuckles and broken controllers in bedrooms and living rooms around the world. We’ve raced in space, dodged bananas in karts and spent hours tuning virtual cars to get the perfect performance out of them.
It’s not just the vehicle that’s important though, the race courses too play a major part in the enjoyment of a game and as fans of all forms of racing we wanted to find the most iconic tracks ever made. The ones that made you scream with rage as you span off course for the fifteenth time, or in delight as you executed a perfectly timed drift and flew past your flagging opponents.
Here is our list of 21 of the most iconic gaming racecourses:
1. Fuji Speedway – Pole Position
Iconic Moment – Racing with Mount Fuji in the background
Fact: This track was enjoyed by many an arcade goer, and by 1983 had become the highest grossing arcade game in North America with over 21,000 machines available to play it on.
2. Big Dukes – Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road
Iconic Moment – Jumping over the water in the centre of the course and avoiding anyone on the crossover
Fact – The computer controlled opponents were named after the game’s development staff at Leland Corporation.
3. Rainbow Road – Super Mario Kart
Iconic Moment – The fact that the course had no barriers, making it brutally difficult
Fact – The game sold nearly 9 million copies worldwide.
4. Expert Course – Daytona USA
Iconic Moment – Speeding across the bridge
Fact – It was one of the first games to use texture-mapped polygons, which gave the game a sense of realism never before experienced.
5. Margarita Meander – Big Red Racing
Iconic Moment – There were two big jumps as you approach the finishing line, which were both epic and vital to a good finish
Fact – Eurogamer writer Keith Stuart wasted ‘several weeks’ writing a backstory that was to be published in the manual, until the publisher saw the accumulating cost and cut it.
6. Koopa Troopa Beach – Mario Kart 64
Iconic Moment – The secret shortcut through the waterfall
Fact – The Japanese version had fake sponsorship from Marlboro cigarettes, renamed Marioro, that you could see in the game.
7. Frosty Village – Diddy Kong Racing
Iconic Moment – Racing past giant trees and Narnia-like streetlamps
Fact – There was a sequel to the game planned and called ‘Donkey Kong Racing’, but it was eventually cancelled as Rare (developers of the game) were bought out by Microsoft and lost the rights to make it.
8. Trial Mountain – Gran Turismo
Iconic Moment – Making round all the sharp corners and bends
Fact – Gran Turismo became the highest selling game on the original PlayStation.
9. Mute City II – F-Zero X
Iconic Moment – The jump section of the track and then managing to make it over the thinned section of the course
Fact – It was the first racing game to run at a smooth 60 frames a second.
10. Rocky Pass – Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit
Iconic Moment – Going through the secret cave tunnel shortcut
Fact – It was released in Japan under the name ‘Over Drivin’ III’.
11. Papu’s Pyramid – Crash Team Racing
Iconic Moment – Using one of the 3 shortcuts whilst dodging the plant monsters
Fact – A glitch for the PAL version of the game caused the bosses heads to be switched during a game mode and the text to go all funny.
12. Mid-Field Raceway – Gran Turismo 2
Iconic Moment – The awesome finishing straight
Fact – One of the discs that the game came with had a ‘scratch and sniff’ feature, which when scratched was meant to give off the smell of a pit lane.
13. Mediterranean Paradise – Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
Iconic Moment – Racing along a beautiful Mediterranean coastline
Fact – The game was never released in Japan.
14. Baby Park – Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Iconic Moment – When set on frantic mode, the course became utterly chaotic
Fact – Holding X or Y as the Nintendo screen shows changes the game so that Lakitu will appear with a fishing pole and not a set of traffic lights.
15. Fire Field: Undulation – F-Zero GX
Iconic Moment – The ups and downs of the roller coaster-like track
Fact – You can access the arcade version of the game using a cheat.
16. Silver Lake – Burnout 3
Iconic Moment – Ramming an opponent into the lake to unlock the ‘Gone Fishin’ trophy
Fact – The original title for the first game was ‘Shiny Red Car’.
17. El Capitan – Gran Turismo 4
Iconic Moment – All the incredible, breath-taking mountain views
Fact – The Chinese, Japanese and South Korean versions of this game came with a 212-page driving guide, including lessons on racing physics.
18. Sol 2 – Wipeout Pure
Iconic Moment – Racing through the clouds and trying to avoid falling off the course
Fact – Studio Liverpool, who developed Wipeout Pure were also the publishers of Lemmings, the MS Dos classic.
19. Fujimi Kaido – Forza Motorsport
Iconic Moment – Becoming a master at drifting on the track
Fact – Forza means ‘Power’ in Italian.
20. Lowenseering – Enthusia Professional Racing
Iconic Moment – The long straight onto the rising bend
Fact – This was the first sim racing game that Konami ever created.
21. Downtown Rave City – Ridge Racers 2
Iconic Moment – The dip on the bridge section that causes your car to soar through the air
Fact – All of the cars in the game are decorated with logos from other Namco Games.