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When you start the game the first thing you'll see is a space invaders (Galaxian type) game while Ridge Racer is loading. Killing all of the invaders before the game is loaded provides access to an extra nine cars when selecting your vehicle, otherwise there will only be four cars to choose from. Each car has four different specifications indicated in the bottom right corner of the screen in a diamond shaped object which are acceleration, grip, handling and maximum speed. Choosing the right car for your needs is important. If you know that you are an excellent driver and won't be crashing too often, then you'll probably want to choose the car with the highest maximum speed. If crashing and bumping into other cars is what you do best, then you might want to pick a car with more acceleration and grip.
The other options available before starting a race are course select, transmission and sound. Course select provides four different selections of the two racing tracks. The differences among them are top speed and the number of laps. For example, the first and second tracks are identical except that there are two laps for the first with a top speed of 160 km/hr, and three laps for the second with a top speed of 200 km/hr. The next two tracks only differ in maximum speed from 200 km/hr to 220 km/hr.
Transmission can be set to either manual or automatic, and the sound consists of six different musical tunes which set the atmosphere for racing. You may select one of the six sound tracks for your race or ask for random selection.
With these four options set it's now time to race! You'll be able to select your view from either outside behind the car, or from within the car for racing. For a maximum acceleration at the starting line, keep your RPM's between six and seven. The object is to come in first place on all four tracks. Once this is done, the same four tracks will become available for racing backwards. Good luck in coming in first place on the second set of the four tracks unless you are racing with the black car! The black car is the fastest car in the game providing speeds up to 250 km/hr. To be allowed to drive the black car, you must win the race against it in the last track of them all, which is the 8th track or the 4th track of the second set. Even though you won't have the fastest car to race against the black car, the driver of the black car is too confident that he'll win the race and pulls over to allow you to catch up once in awhile.
The graphics in the game are ultra fluid and very realistic with superb textures. The race tracks will take you through the city, beach, mountain sides, construction zones, bridges and well lit tunnels. You'll see buildings (one where the lighted windows at night make a happy face), trucks, trees, rocks, beautiful blue sky with light cloud cover, road signs, the helicopter covering the race, and airplanes taking off from the airport. The races take place during the day, sunset, night time, and sunrise. There are no graphics related to car damage. Crashing into other cars or going off the road simply slows you down. In the tunnels are little orange construction cones for you to hit.
Vehicle control is difficult at first because the controls are very sensible and it takes a little getting use to, but once that is done you'll find them quite good. Control of the vehicle is done with the control pad, the accelerator, break, and gear shift. You'll also find your car skidding in curves and will be able to control the effects of such an incident also.
While racing, your current position will be indicated in the middle of the top of the screen. Other interesting items on the screen are, the current gear from one to six in the bottom left corner, a view of the track in the top left corner with two arrows indicating your position and the car which is in first place, the RPM's are located in a circular gage in the bottom right corner along with your current speed.
Besides the six sound tracks you can listen to during the game, you'll also hear an announcer encouraging you through the race. Phrases such as, "Hurry", "Better luck next time", or "You must be one genius of a driver, you've got to teach me!" are just some examples of what you may hear while you are racing. A new lap record will also be announced.
At the end of a race, the helicopter view of your car is provided with a replay of the race. You'll be able to see where you made vital errors or great manoeuvers.
In the options menu of the main menu, you'll be able to view the top six records of the current track with the best lap. You can also configure the joystick to four different configuations for the buttons which control the view, shifting of the gears, acceleration and the breaks. The last option is a music player which simply plays one of the six musical tracks provided on with the game.
The only complaint I have for this game is that once you have mastered it, it becomes too short. A good game player can finish all eight tracks within about 45 minutes once they have mastered it. It would have been nice if there were a few more options such as setting the number of laps, etc, as one would find in other racing games. I myself am far from mastering the game and will be able to enjoy the game for a few more months!
Namco Hometek, Inc.,
150 Charcot Ave., Suite A,
San Jose, CA 95131-1102
25/27 Mossop Street,
Knightsbridge, London SW3 2LY
2-1-21, Yaguchi, Ota-Ku,