They put the kids in command of thrills that they aren’t legally entitled to and push the limits of what adults could legally do on the road. Alvin Thomas picks his best two driving games of all time
Sega Rally Championship (1995)
People from the 80s or 90s will vividly remember this game – even those who don’t know a thing about racing or cars. The iconic game once formed a great part of a child’s time at a mall, as most would simply rush to the arcade centre to slot in a few coins and play the game… of course, that’s assuming their parents let them to.
In any case, the arcade game came with choppy graphics, a horrendously unrealistic physics engine, cheesy 90s Euro (trash) music and commentary, and an environment to match. But Sega caught hold of us where it mattered: the gameplay and experience. The turbocharged cars, for instance, sounded like they were ready to rumble on the roads outside, and you even got a gearstick (and a clutch in some instances) to mimic your favourite rally drivers. Whether it really shifted the gears or not, I don’t know, but it did make you feel like a real sports car driver.
And if that wasn’t the dream of every 90s kid, then I don’t know what was.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
Call it what you want, but in my opinion, the Need for Speed: Most Wanted car racing game was a turning point in the franchise’s long history. The game – when released in 2005 – toned down its pro-Fast and Furious tuner culture and made way for a unique open world
Yes, you could still pimp out your ride with 21-inch chrome rims and affix turbos the size of foxes to your engines, but the core of the game – racing – remained. This meant that you could head out into the open world and find your way through the career mode, as opposed to simply taking part in set races (like in NFS Underground).
Its storyline was catchy, and there’s no way you could forget Izzy – one of the antagonists who was repeatedly featured throughout the game.
The NFS franchise has come a long way since the Most Wanted but, in my books, this is aces. And for that very reason, I continue to play this game.