Friday, April 20, 2018

Netto's Beginnings: First Racing Game

This is no secret to the people who know me, but I actually love racing games! In fact, maybe I like them a bit too much. You see, while a lot of my friends find them boring, I'm one of those people who buy them almost non stop. "Who cares if I haven't finished the last one I bought! This new one looks too fun!" Because of this mindset I have I have built up a crazy large backlog of just racing games, and it continues to grow as the days go on. Heck I just bought Burnout Paradise for the third time thanks to it's remaster, yet I still need to finish the past few Need for Speed releases, Forza Horizon 3 (and 2), and at some point I need to return to The Crew. Really, I love almost all racing games, and that's not something that is going to change. But how did this all begin with me? Well that's actually a bit of a strange story... (And can be read elsewhere.)

While I actually have a few games I'd consider my "first" racing game, for the sake of this post I'm going to actually start with my VERY first one. As for what that game was? Well, Top Gear 2 of course! While I have mentioned this game before (see above link), I want to take the time to go into it a bit more this.


Top Gear 2 was my first real look into racing games. Sure, maybe I sat at an arcade machine at Walmart or something (yeah, they used to have those there), but this was the game I actually played a lot of as a kid. It was my uncle's game, and when I'd go over there I'd often play it with him or my cousins when they came to visit. The game was one of those 3D SNES games, and because of that it was pretty simple. You got to pick the color of your car, got to choose between automatic or manual transmission (I always went with automatic of course), and all you really had to do was hold the accelerator and turn left/right with the track. While it was possible to somewhat go off course, the game was mostly on auto pilot for you. Your main worry was crashing into other cars, but even that wasn't too difficulty for my younger self. Sometimes you'd get hit and fall behind, but most of the time all you had to do is use your NOS to boost yourself ahead. It really wasn't that difficult of a game, but I still had a lot of fun with it.

One thing that made Top Gear 2 really stand out to me as a kid, was the ability to actually upgrade your car, change it's color, and then damage it in the race. Finishing races would net you money to make your car better and continue on, and as you got hit by other cars you got to see different parts on your own car get damaged or break. This was always shown to you at the top in a little diagram of your car, but typically it wasn't something you had to pay much attention to. (In fact I used to crash my car on purpose just to see how much of it I could destroy.) Even so I thought it was pretty cool as a kid, and it wasn't until many years later that I would see this type of system again.

Later on my uncle would go on to sell his SNES (and most of his games) and I ended up being left with TG2 as my own. This is when I started going through the full campaign mode myself, and sometimes I'd even co-op it with my dad. The game supported split screen and we'd both make use of that to complete the game together. Those were some really fun memories for me, and despite most tracks looking the same (except with different backgrounds and at different times of the day), I really enjoyed the adventure across different locations. I could never wait to see where we were going next, and I can still remember wanting to see the Loch Ness Monster when we raced around the area. Of course it wasn't there, but kid me kept hoping.

Eventually I would move on from TG2, but it wouldn't be to other racing games. Sure I played the Mario Kart games once in awhile when I rented them, but in general that was it for me when it came to racing. The newer generation of racing games on the N64 and PS1 made me sick when playing them (with the exception of a few N64 racers I had rented), and it wasn't until much later that I was able to fully handle these new 3D racing games again. With some exceptions like Mario Kart and Kirby Air Ride, the racing genre had almost been lost to me, but thankfully that's no longer the case.

Now days I can continue playing the old genre I love, and I can even experience them in completely new ways. Games like Drive Club VR put me "in" the drivers seat for a more realistic experience, and then you have other games like Wipeout VR that completely blow me away. VR has breathed new life into these games for me, and has me hooked more than ever before. That being said, I can't wait to see what the future holds, and where this technology will eventually end up.

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