Dateline : 14th November 2011


Driving games are ten a plenty but it is rare to find one that rocked the arcades that also rocks in the comfort of your own home. Those Friday night trips to Stourport-on-Severn must have paid off as RetroBear loads up one of the great Sega games from the last great days of arcade gaming…..


Driving games don't get much better than this and for once the spirit of the arcade original runs through it

There was a time when if you wanted to play the biggest, baddest and best looking games then a trip to your local arcade would suffice. There was always a great deal of interest when one of the games got the home conversion treatment. Of course none of the 8 bit machines could have hoped to replicate the arcade originals in terms of graphics, no matter how many magazines proclaimed these conversions as “arcade perfect”.


In the dying days of the arcade there were many fine games, but because of the shift in the industry to produce consoles capable of being more arcade perfect than ever, slowly but surely with each new release and each failed machine the arcades themselves began to wane. Nowadays these places are full of fruit machines and gamblers and to find one containing working games machines is harder than ever.


As close to arcade perfect as it was at the time, this was far superior to the Saturn conversion of Daytona


That said there were some belting arcade games that came about and Sega produced two fab racers that have lived long in the memory. One was Daytona USA which sadly I don’t have a copy of on the Sega Saturn, but brings fond memories flooding back of 4 machines linked together racing against my friends in the battle to finish first. The other was Sega Rally, which did find itself converted to the Saturn, and some years later an updated version to the Dreamcast.


As with the all best games, the premise is simple : drive your rally car through a variety of terrains – desert, mountain etc – and continually hit the checkpoints to extend the time. Sitting alongside you in voice only is your co-driver, barking out useful things such as “Long easy right, Over jumps, long easy left maybe” – giving you a heads-up on what lurks round the corner. The road surfaces change so you have to get used to sliding round corners and accelerating/breaking at the right time to maximise your speed.


The Saturn conversion of the game is nothing short of spectacular. It’s fast like the arcade original and the graphics were excellent for the time, though now they have lost a lot of their impact. The playability is still there with the “one more go” factor not only there but increasing after every play just to see if you can beat your times and fastest laps. The only downside was the clipped frame rate which added scenery as you went along, but this is a minor gripe.


Looks like a right turn ahead rather than a wrong one


It received rave reviews when released and many arcade fans were grateful that justice had been done. Playing it now it is still a very good racer, though 16 years after it’s original release there are obvious signs of it’s age. One of the first PS3 racers was an updated version, graphically tarted up but with the same core gameplay element still there. As good as it was, up against more modern racers like DIRT and Need For Speed : Hot Pursuit the game didn’t stand up to modern audiences and rather sadly was largely ignored.


Sega Rally stands as a great racer of it’s time, one the last true great arcade games. Dig out a Saturn and a copy of the game and let it rip.


VERDICT : Pole position all the way. It’s still a great racer even by today’s standards, though it is showing it’s age.


NOTES : Complete copies on Amazon for around the £2.00 mark, whilst on eBay prices start around £4.00 for the complete game


UP NEXT : Resist the temptation of the Dark Side – Shadows Of The Empire on the N64