Top 10 Racing Games Over The Years: Three Decades Of Arcade

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In the past, gamers were looked down upon as escapists and people with no social skills, since all they would do with their time was sit in front of the TV screen all day, hurling abuses, flinging ashtrays, and even forgetting to eat at times. While those are not all lies, what many people didn't realise was that games were improving steadily as time went by, and were becoming more and more realistic-true of racing games too. But the real gamers always knew...

In a small tribute to those who've stuck by racing in the virtual world (because after all, how many of us can afford to race in real life), we've put together a list of 10 games that we've played over the years, right from our childhood till today's smartphone age. Some of the titles here will have you reminiscing your glory days, especially if you're part of the 80s generation, so read on.

1. Enduro

Game designer: Larry Miller
Game publisher: Activision
Platform: Atari
Year of release: 1983


This game was probably the first rung of your gaming ladder, and while the game was not very complicated, it did feature excellent gameplay for the time. You had to drive your ‘offroading-F1' race car as fast as possible through various tracks around the world, with amazing details for the time like changing environments and light conditions.

2. Road Rash

Game publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Sega Mega Drive
Year of release: 1991

Road Rash

All of us would've cheered (and cursed) each other on at some birthday party or the other because of this popular motorcycle racing game. Players would participate in illegal street races and use violence to try and eliminate your rivals-everything from kicking and punching to twirling a ball and chain were accepted as routine race behaviour!

3. F1/Formula 1

Game publisher: Domark
Platform: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive/Sega Game Gear
Year of release: 1993

F1/Formula 1

Here was one of the first games that actually allowed you a cockpit view of your car, and you could race in a world championship on several tracks that were based on actual grand prix circuits around the world. Although arcadish, it gave gamers at the time their first taste of what it would be like to pilot an F1 car around a track, with incredible gameplay and realism for that era.

4. Need For Speed 2 Special Edition

Game publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC
Year of release: 1997

Need For Speed 2 Special Edition

If there ever was a game to blame for low GPAs, failed examinations, and red-marked assignments, this had to be it. NFS 2 featured several exotic cars, including the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F50, and one could race against computer or human opponents in Tournament, Knockout and customisable Single Race modes.

5. Gran Turismo

Game designer: Kazunori Yamauchi
Game publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: Playstation
Year of release: 1997

Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo, or simply GT, or GT1, was a ‘game changer'. The simulator, designed for the PS1 game console, took virtual racing to a new level, with around 140 available cars and 11 race tracks. It very quickly became one of the most respected simulators at the time, and has laid the foundation for one the most successful video game series. Ever. In the impressive Simulation mode, one had to earn licenses and credits to complete races and unlock cars.

6. Colin McRae Rally

Game publisher: Codemasters
Platform: PC/Playstation/Nintendo Game Boy Colour
Year of release: 1998

Colin McRae Rally

You can't call yourself a racing game enthusiast if you haven't played some version of Colin McRae Rally. This game was praised highly for its realism and great gameplay, and featured 3 difficulty modes with different cars: ‘Novice' had FWD cars like the Seat Ibiza, ‘Intermediate' had 4WD World Rally cars like the Subaru Impreza, and ‘Expert' mode gave one the chance to unlock extremely desirable bonus cars like the Audi Quattro S1, Ford RS2000, and more.

7. Need For Speed Most Wanted

Game publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Playstation 2/XBox/PC
Year of release: 2005

Need For Speed Most Wanted

Most Wanted offered gamers a great deal of involvement in the gameplay, including taking on rivals in impromptu races, escaping arrest tactics and ploys by the boys in blue to stop your progress, and customising your car will several mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. Players also had to get used to utilising the awesome hissing nitrous oxide boosts to gain that competitive edge.

8. Burnout Paradise

Game publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Playstation 3/XBox 360/PC
Year of release: 2008

Burnout Paradise

Spectacular crashes are often the reason why people even bother to watch motor racing. So it was fitting that a game series was developed that took crashing to a whole new level-that game was Burnout, originally launched way back in 2001. However, the 2008 release of Burnout Paradise for PS3 was highly anticipated too, and the slow motion, brilliantly detailed car deformations and high-speed action really took the world by storm.

9. F1 2013

Game publisher: Codemasters
Platform: Playstation 3/Xbox 360/PC
Year of release: 2013

F1 2013

For several, the epitome of motorsport is Formula 1. Thus, there needed to be a game out there for F1 fans, and the F1 game series filled that position nicely. F1 2013 was one of the most popular editions of the game, and was based on the 2013 Formula 1 season with its 22 drivers and 19 circuits. The game also featured an interesting pack that allowed players to race classic Formula racers on tracks from the 1980s and 1990s.

10. Asphalt

Game publisher: Gameloft
Platform: iOS/Android/Microsoft Windows/Playstation Portable/etc.
Year of release: 2013


Are people moving away from gaming consoles? Who knows, especially if games as good as the Asphalt game series are available for your smartphone. Players can opt for various control options like ‘Tilt-to-steer' where acceleration is automatic, but one tilts the screen to steer the car, or ‘On-screen controls' where a more conventional steering wheel controls the cars. With smartphone screen resolutions and clarity at the levels they are today, mobile gaming too, has already made its mark in the virtual racing world's Hall of Fame.

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Story first published: Monday, March 9, 2015, 11:39 [IST]
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