Virtua Racing

Virtua Racing

Infobox VG| title = Virtua Racing


developer = Sega-AM2
publisher = Sega
designer = Yu Suzuki
engine =
released = October 1992 (Arcade), 1994 (Genesis)
genre = Racing
modes = Single player, multiplayer
ratings =
platforms = Arcade, Mega Drive/Genesis, 32X, Saturn, PlayStation 2
media =
requirements =
input =

"Virtua Racing" or "V.R." for short, is a Formula 1 racing arcade game, developed by Sega-AM2 and released in October 1992. It is one of the first driving games to use fully polygonal characters and environments (the first was "Hard Drivin'"), on the new 3DCG board "Model 1". Virtua Racing was initially developed as a test program for exercising the new Model 1 hardware as it was developed, and was eventually developed into a commercial game. Virtua Racing also introduced the "V.R. View System" by allowing the player to choose one of four views to play the game. This feature was then used in most other SEGA arcade racing games (and is mentioned as a feature in the attract mode of games such as " Daytona USA"). It was later ported to home consoles, starting with the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994.

The original arcade game has three levels, designated into difficulties. Beginner is "Big Forest", intermediate is "Bay Bridge" and expert is "Acropolis". Each level has its own special feature, for example the amusement park in "Big Forest", or the "Bay Bridge" itself, or the tight hairpin of "Acropolis".

Arcade cabinet versions

V.R. was released in a "twin" cabinet – the standard and most common version, which is effectively 2 complete machines built into a single cabinet. The Twin cabinets for the USA were manufactured by contract at Grand Products, Inc. in Illinois for Sega and were built using Wells-Gardner 25" monitors, nearly all of which had Zenith picture tubes with a manufacturing defect that caused them to fail after a few years of use. As a result of this, many V.R. machines were parted or thrown out and are an uncommon sight today. The Twin cabinet that was sold in the rest of the world was built by Sega in Japan and used 29" Nanao monitors.

Also available was an upright (UR), which was a single-player cabinet using the same force-feedback steering as the twin.

There was also a Deluxe version, known as the V.R. DX cabinet type, which is also a single-player machine and has a 16:9 aspect-ratio monitor (the first use of a widescreen aspect ratio monitor in an arcade game), and 6 airbags (3 on each side) built into the seat that will inflate and "nudge" the player when cornering, and one more airbag on the player's back that inflates under braking. The seat is also adjustable via "forward" and "back" buttons using air pressure. V.R. DX's force-feedback steering also uses two pneumatic cylinders to rotate the steering wheel, which differ from the electric motor-and-clutch system that the upright and twin versions use (which have no inbuilt air system), so the steering feel is quite different.

"Virtua Formula" was released in 1993. It was unveiled at the opening of Sega's second arcade amusement park Joypolis, where a whole room with 32 machines was dedicated to the game. "Virtua Formula" was effectively a "super DX" version of V.R. and the player sat in a full-motion hydraulically-actuated Formula 1 car 'replica' in front of a 50" screen. Most of these units were converted into Sega's second-generation Indy car simulator, Indy 500, and are commonly found at larger Sega Gameworks locations in the USA.

All versions of Virtua Racing are linkable up to 8-players; meaning 4 twin units or 8 DX, UR, or Virtua Formula cabinets can be linked together using fiber-optic cables. In addition this, there was an optional display known as the "Live Monitor" that would sit on top of the twin cabinets and replay action shots of what was occurring on the live players in a "virtual sportscast" by a virtual commentator, "Virt McPolygon".

Home console versions

Due to the complexity of the Model 1 board, a home console version seemed unlikely, until 1994 when a cartridge design incorporating the Sega Virtua Processor on an extra chip was created to enable a version on the Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive. It was more expensive than other games, initially retailing at 100 USD. Despite being severely scaled down, it was still technically impressive, and was very well received by reviewers. It was the only game to ever use the SVP.

"...the speed, graphic intensity and addictive gameplay that made the arcade game a major hit are all included in this awe inspiring release." (Diehard GameFan magazine, June 1994 issue)

The game was incompatible with Majesco's re-released Genesis 3 from 1998, and would not work on any Genesis equipped with a Sega 32X.

An upgraded version, "Virtua Racing Deluxe", was released in 1994 for the 32X. It performed much closer to the original arcade, included two extra cars ("Stock" and "Prototype") and two new tracks ("Highland" and "Sand Park"). Due to the poor sales of the 32X, the game was not as popular as its Sega Genesis predecessor.

A Sega Saturn version was released in 1996 by Time Warner Interactive. This version was criticized for not being close to the original arcade game, as well as lacking playability.

An improved remake was released for the Sony Playstation 2 in Japan in 2003, later in the USA, and finally in Europe in March 2006 as part of the Sega Arcade Classics collection, a compilation of a selection of individual Japanese releases.

Timeline of releases

* 1992: Original Arcade release.
* 1993: Virtua Formula (Multiplayer) Arcade release
* 1994: Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive release
* 1994: 32X release
* 1996: Sega Saturn release (by Time Warner Interactive)
* 2003: Sega AGES Remake for PlayStation 2 released in Japan
* 2005: Sega AGES Remake for PlayStation 2 released in USA and Europe as part of the Sega Classics Collection

External links

* [http://www.segaarcade.com/archive/virtuaracing.aspx information at segaarcade.com]
* [http://www.system16.com/sega/hrdw_model1.html System16 - Sega Model 1 Hardware]
* [http://www.gametrailers.com/player.php?id=8959&pl=game&type=mov Arcade version referenced and shown] within this 2002 video piece on the history of Polygon Graphics
* [http://www.virtuaracing.com Fanpage for Sega Virtua Racing owners]


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