Virtua Racing is a classic arcade racing simulator game developed by Sega AM R&D #2 and published by its parent company Sega, and Time Warner Interactive for the Arcade, Sega Genesis, Sega 32X and the Sega Saturn platforms. Virtua Racing was initially released for Arcade on August 1992 in Japan and later worldwide in October of the same year. Two years later, it was released for Sega Genesis with the North American version being released on March 14, 1994, the European version being released on March 16, 1994, and the Japanese version being released again two days later in the same year. The Sega 32X versions of it were released in December of the same year, and the Sega Saturn version was released in North America on June 1, 1995, with the Japanese and European versions being released on December 22, 1995, and 1996 respectively, marked by various improvements from the previous titles.
Virtua Racing was originally a testing platform used by Sega to test a new 3D engine for racing games, and was called “Model 1”. However, when this testing platform was released to the public, it became so popular that Sega decided to make it into a standalone game, instead of creating a completely new one.
In Virtua Racing, players choose a car with various transmission types. The car would race around a track. Only one racing track map was ever made for the game. Players would compete against AI enemy cars and the goal of a game was to reach the finish line first. Rewards would vary depending on whether the player came first, second or third. If players came forth, they weren’t rewarded with anything. Being an arcade title, Virtua Racing did not have a single-player version, and instead, the game focused on its arcade aspects to make the game’s replayability higher. Players can choose from three difficulty modes: the easiest being “Big Forest”, the normal being “Bay Bridge”, and the hardest being “Acropolis”.
Virtua Racing was a genre-defining racing game of the time. It was not the first game to use 3D mechanics, but it has made several innovations that brought out and inspired a new era of gaming. Despite the fact that rival companies like Namco and Atari had already made 3D titles, they did not have the gameplay smoothness of Virtua Racing. Virtua Racing utilized a more detailed rendering to achieve more frames per second (FPS), and it was the first racing game to use 3D models for the audience, which had never been done before and provided a new heightened sense of immersion. Similarly, Virtua Racing had refined steering and braking controls, with sound effects that matched those of real racing cars, and as a result, it became immensely popular and is to this day revered as one of the most important games in history. Though less known today, Virtua Racing is the inspiration behind the design and mechanics of popular games today such as Forza Horizon, and also continues to inspire development teams across all genres.