Retronauts Volume III Episode 6: Arcade Racing Games

Retronauts 6 cover

Ray here. Lots of different games tickle my fancy, but one of my bigger loves is the arcade racer. It's a genre that's seen many big hits -- namely Daytona USA and Ridge Racer -- but there's plenty of exciting games that came before and after those rivals. And fortunately for us, these kinds of racing games are ubiquitous enough that all of us on the show had some experience with them. Joining us this week is fellow 1UP alum and current Polygon editor Matt Leone, who lends his arcade knowledge and trivia to this talk of the racing genre.

We go back and forth between Japanese and Western racing games, exploring the strides being made on either side for more than 40 years. Not only do we talk about individual games, but we also take a moment or two or talk about where they might be going. The old-school arcade game design sense of making things hard and quarter-sucking as possible has slowly morphed into games that encourage players to enjoy the spectacle and not get too down about failing. American developers like Raw Thrills embrace that with their Fast & The Furious series, though in Japan, the genre seems to be fading away quickly -- or at least becoming nothing but Initial D games.

As I mention near the top of the show, the racing genre has a dense, dense history, and we couldn't mention every single game that was interesting. Because of that, we briefly talk about some and just plum forgot about others (for example, why did I not think of Sonic & All-Stars Racing?). This includes a lot of notable ports of those games, too -- but my excuse is that we stick to the arcades where possible. So expect it, listen to it, and love it.

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This episode's breakdown:

  • 0:46 | Introductions & the earliest years of arcade racing games
  • 11:31 | Music: Pole Position cartoon theme
  • 12:01 | The later '80s and into the '90s (Virtua Racing)
  • 30:05 | Music: Virtua Racing selection theme
  • 30:34 | Some '80s stragglers
  • 34:46 | Music: RoadBlasters theme
  • 35:11 | The mid '90s (Daytona USA, Ridge Racer)
  • 48:07 | Music: Daytona USA "Let's Go Away" on piano
  • 48:39 | The rise of the West in the late '90s (Cruis'n USA)
  • 57:04 | Music: Cruis'n World title theme
  • 57:35 | Into the 21st century
  • 1:17:07 | Closing

NEXT WEEK: Pocket explores another system's range of accessories.