Cruis'n USA series
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
In the same spirit of freewheeling fun as Sega’s Out Run, Cruis’n USA took all the realism of driving games like Daytona USA and Virtua Racing and threw it almost completely out the window. Cruis’n USA had its share of realistic features, of course, but the emphasis was on the unusual—moves you’d never pull in real life, courses only a suicidal maniac would tackle, and cars you wouldn’t even think about bringing to a real man’s race.
The game took players on a race across the USA, traveling the public highways and byways through 14 courses, including San Francisco, the Redwood Forest, Death Valley, Indiana, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Digitized graphics, produced through a new technique dubbed “Reality Mapping,” delivered near-video-quality images in the background as your car cruised the open road.
Cruis’n USA pitted racers against 9 other cars (including another human player in linked games), but this was no organized, respectable race. The tracks were littered with obstacles, including potholes, horse crossings and detours. There were no rules of driver etiquette, either, with players bumping up against one another to try to force their competitors into oncoming traffic. Cruis’n USA’s crashes were a further break from reality, replacing genuine skids and spinouts with spectacular pile-ups and flying cars.
Like many racers, Cruis’n USA allowed players to select from a stable of cars, but this game added a few secret options as well. If Ferraris and other sports cars weren’t your style, you could always try your hand behind the wheel of a police car or school bus.
As designed by Eugene Jarvis (Defender, Robotron: 2084) and his team, Cruis’n USA was a light-hearted, occasionally silly break from other racers of the era. It wasn’t necessarily realistic, but that wasn’t really the point. Jarvis and company wanted a game that captured the spirit of the open road, and if the game’s arcade success was any indication, they succeeded.
Cruis’n USA was followed up in 1996 with Cruis’n World, which expanded the fun on a global scale. Players could now race through Egypt, France, England, Russia, Japan, China, Africa, Australia, Mexico, Germany and a handful of spots in the good old U.S. of A. Twelve new cars were available for the race, expanding the oddball lineup to include a Humvee, a semi truck, an old pickup and more. As an added attraction, the game featured dangerous new driving moves like wheelies and barrel rolls, along with secret shortcuts through most of the game’s courses.
With the addition of a 4-player linked gameplay option, Cruis’n World was another arcade smash, drawing in players of all ages and skill levels. A third installment was released in 2000, Cruis’n Exotica, keeping the tradition of open-road entertainment alive and cruising into the 00’s.
Arcade Machine Release History1994 - Cruis'n USA
1996 - Cruis'n World
2000 - Cruis'n Exotica
Arcade Game Sub Categoriesracing