A Little Love Letter to Sega’s ‘Virtua Racing’

Above: Longplay video of the Mega Drive/Genesis port of ‘Virtua Racing’

Above: Longplay video of the 32X port of ‘Virtua Racing Deluxe’

Just watch the videos above, and you’ll see the differences, too. The Genesis and 32X ports of Virtua Racing came out in the same year. One tried to do what already dated technology said it shouldn’t on a platform about to become extinct; the other absolutely nailed its delivery, stuck its landing, whatever your metaphor, but did so on a platform sent out to die horribly, doomed by its own maker’s total mismanagement. Nine months separate a dog’s dinner from a definitive experience—nine months, and a whole lot of extra horsepower.

How that attract-screen music still gets my pulse up. I still know all the time extension ditties. I hear the “Get Goal” announcement and feel a rush. Even the “Game Over” sting has that undeniable Sega-ness to it that brings me out in the warmest smile.
I think that’s love, as much as anyone can love something like a video game, a form of entertainment so very bound by time, technology and expendable money. Virtua Racing on the Genesis was an expensive lesson in knowing your limits, as anyone who bought it new will tell you; but the expanded home version that followed, for me, opened up the appeal and potential of 32-bit video games like nothing else.

Of course, next to Wipeout and Gran Turismo, 1994’s Virtua Racing Deluxe looked very primitive, very quickly. But even 25 years on from its arcade release, it’s a racer that, on the very rare occasion I sit down with it—the last time being our 72-hour live stream[3]—has me feeling like I’ve somehow come home. You’ve got your own games like that, right? And you’d say that you love them? Cool.

Follow Mike on Twitter.[4]

References

  1. ^ look at it (www.youtube.com)
  2. ^ here I am playing it (www.youtube.com)
  3. ^ 72-hour live stream (www.youtube.com)
  4. ^ Follow Mike on Twitter. (www.twitter.com)

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