Yes, the isolation continues and we still don’t know when things will return to normal. However, that also means there’s more time to play video games, and this week our Stay at Home series introduced us to some interesting recommendations like Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, Left 4 Dead 2, and Spelunky. Of course, the situation lends itself to testing games from different times and this time I will take a trip towards the end of the 90s with what I considered to be the highlight of Arcade racing games: R4: Ridge Racer Type 4.
Preceded by a story that started in Arcade in 1993 with Ridge Racer, a game that ran on Namco System 22 hardware, and by subsequent installments that went from the machines to PlayStation, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 was presented in December 1998 for the Japanese market and months later, already 1999, for the rest of the world. From the start, the game produced by Shigeru Yokoyama and programmed by Masatoshi Kobayashi showed that the years of experience accumulated by the Namco development team were enough to provide a product close to perfection that would eventually become the racing game. Arcade par excellence, although ironically it was for console.
At the time it debuted, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 immediately became the testament to a genre that was about to give up the throne to racing simulation, as the future had arrived and we could finally taste that dose of realism that came from a new source, Polyphony Digital and Gran Turismo. However, there was still one last chance to close the loop, and R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 took advantage of it with a proposal that synthesized the Arcade racers’ playstyle with simple control but required mastery of drift or of the right combination between brake and accelerator before taking a curve, Drift or Grip basically.
Likewise, Namco opted for a memorable story mode in which you have to select a team among R.C Micro Mouse Mappy (France), Pac Racing Club (Japan), Racing Team Solvalou (Italy), and Dig Racing Team (United States). Namco has always been self-referential and each team, which in turn defines difficulty, represents one of 4 great titles in the company’s history: Mappy, Pac-Man, Xevious, and Dig Dug.
Once the team is selected, you have to choose a manufacturer among Age Solo, Lizard, Assoluto and Terrazi, which will define the story to follow as our role is that of a novice pilot who performs a passive function, that is, they are the heads of team in charge of telling the story. From there, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 will take us to a fictional circuit that takes place during 1999 and culminates on December 31 of that year. Perhaps, one of the greatest moments that I have lived as a player is to run in that last race whose remaining lap takes place in the middle of the New Year celebration and as you approach the finish line the fireworks and the screams of the people indicate that the new year, century and millennium have already begun.
Thanks to its excellent Arcade-type proposal, which basically puts you in the last place for you to advance in the search for the position of honor, a fair and balanced system and exquisite gameplay, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 never feels like something tedious in the search for the 320 cars that you can collect by running and arriving in different positions and through the different combinations between teams and manufacturers. In the same way, this game stood out at the time and earned a place in history thanks to its excellent soundtrack, made up of the Namco Sound Team, made up of Kohta Takahashi, Hiroshi Okubo, Asuka Sakai, Tetsukazu Nakanishi, and Koji Nakagawa, and whose last piece, the one that appears in the end, masterfully concludes an era in video game history, since after R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, nothing was the same.
Currently, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 is still available on the PlayStation Store as a PS One classic for PS3 and its price is quite affordable for the type of historical piece it is. Likewise, the game exists on the infamous PlayStation Classic. If you have the opportunity to acquire it, do not hesitate to do it because it is one of the best Arcade racing games in history, for me it is a perfect work. Sadly, the franchise no longer returned to close-up, it’s definitely not on Bandai Namco’s radar, and as soon as PS Store support ends for PS3 it will suffer the sad fate of digital content.
Finally, here I leave you with some of the staff’s recommendations for this quarantine:
Fernando Salinas – Final Fantasy IX, a Square classic worth remembering
Mardokeo Galván – INSIDE, a sinister journey to individualism
Pedro Cesari – Hitman, Agent 47’s misunderstood mission
Luis Sánchez – Age of Empires 2, the immortal of real-time strategy
Daniel Laguna – Shin Megami Tensei, a cult franchise you must know
Víctor Rosas – Xenogears, the beginning of the long and hard road of Tetsuya Takahashi