Virtua Racing

Virtua Racing

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Arcade racers had already had first-person views (Night Driver), eight-player capability (Indy 800) and even 3-D polygon graphics (Hard Drivin’), but the world had never seen these features put together as impressively as they were in Sega’s Virtua Racing. This 1992 arcade hit completely revolutionized the racing genre, bringing gamers back to the track and setting the standard for every Daytona USA and San Francisco Rush that would follow.

Virtua Racing’s look and speed came courtesy of Sega’s new “Model 1” technology, which used polygon graphics to build complete worlds around the racetrack. Players were completely immersed in the action, with four selectable camera views available at the touch of a button. A “force feedback” steering wheel added to the game’s realism, recreating the physical workout of driving a real Formula-1 racer over one of the game’s three courses—Beginner, Medium and Expert.

Earlier driving games like Atari’s Sprint series and Leland's Iron Man Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road had allowed multiple players on the track, but these had all been overhead or near-overhead views. By linking up to eight cabinets together, Virtua Racing allowed each driver to have his or her own view of the action, with a display indicating the car’s current position. Nothing beat the thrill of racing against seven other human beings, especially ones within taunting distance from your machine.

With “live action monitors” displaying views of the track for arcade spectators, Virtua Racing had the feel of the real thing, and lines formed for a chance at rubber-burning glory. The days of the solo racer had passed, and multi-player was the way of the future.

Virtua Racing not only revolutionized the racing genre, it kick-started an entire new franchise for Sega. The Virtua name and polygon 3-D look were carried over into shooting games (Virtua Cop), sports (Virtua Striker), and the ever-popular one-on-one fighting genre (Virtua Fighter). No Virtua Racing sequels were released, but Sega fueled the racing fever with later hits like Daytona USA and Super GT.

Arcade Machine Release History

1992 - Virtua Racing

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