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30 Genres of Christmas
Arcade Racer
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 14, 2009   |   Episode 19 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're counting down the days until Christmas by looking at 30 different video game genres. From the most popular games to the tiniest niche titles, everything fits into a genre and we're going to be there to shed absolutely no new information about that genre in this month-long feature. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 30 Genres of Christmas!



You don't see this in Gran Turismo!
How Do You Know You Are Playing an Arcade Racer? You know how many racing games give you touchy controls, realistic courses and real world physics? Well, that's not what an Arcade Racer does. Instead of recreating a realistic sensation of driving a real car, an Arcade Racer is balls-to-the-wall excitement followed by tons of crashes and a track straight out of a movie. Still not convinced? If your racing game shouts "TAKEDOWN!" when you knock somebody into the wall or lets you build up a turbo meter, then you're definitely playing an Arcade Racing game ... and I bet you're loving every minute!

Patron Saint: Unrealistic action movies with plenty of high-speed car chases.

Typical Story: Hey, congratulations, you finally earned your driver's license and you're ready to get out there and show everybody your skills. Of course, to do this you are going to need a nicer car, so you decide to compete in a series of illegal street races. Before long you are the king of street racing, winning

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everybody else's cars and selling them for cash. But now you have the cops on your butt and the pressure is driving you insane. Will you be able to complete that final race before everything catches up to you?

What Your Driving Instructor Says: "Okay, for your final exam I'm going to see how you do on the freeway. What you want to do here is signal to the left, wait two seconds and turn. Okay, watch out for that dog in the street. And you're going to want to pull out of this driveway here, nice and slowly and ... wait ... what are you doing? Hey, don't do that. No, that's not where we're going. Hey, slow down, we're not in a race. You're going to want to keep to your side so you don't hit that ... OH MY GOD, YOU JUST HIT A CAR!! Okay, pull over so I can take control ... NO, DON'T DO THAT!! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US BOTH KILLED? QUIT SCREWING AROUND! Okay, keep both hands on the ... NOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Not an Arcade Racer: Hard Drinin' and Race Drivin', despite being actual arcade games, are not Arcade Racers. I'm sure I'll get a lot of flak for this, but these two Atari racers are doing their best to recreate the feel

What do I have to do to get Sony to release another map pack for the incredible wipEout HD?
of an actual car on a real world course. They did this by using polygons, a brand new technology that Atari was more than happy to test out in an arcade setting. Think of it like this, if you were to create an arcade version of Forza 3 that didn't change the gameplay at all, then you would have a simulation racing game in the arcade. That wouldn't make Forza 3 an Arcade Racer, just like Hard Drivin' isn't a real Arcade Racer. Oh screw it, it's too complicated. Just call it whatever the hell you want.

Then vs. Now? Arcade Racers haven't evolved much since the 1980s. We still get over-the-top crashes, the tracks are all over the place and we're pulling off ridiculous speeds through well-known cities. Let's face it, racing is racing. The one relatively recent enhancement to this sub-genre is the invent of the open world. Games like Burnout Paradise and Midnight Club Racing take the open world sandbox style of Grand Theft Auto and use it for racing purposes. For the most part it works, Burnout Paradise was one of the best games of last year and the recent Los Angeles-themed Midnight Club wasn't half bad. I do love my old school racers like Hang On and Rad Racer, but it's impossible to compete with wipEout HD and Burnout Paradise.
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