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Sega Rally Championship – Sega Saturn

Sega Rally Championship – Sega Saturn

Sega RallyPlatform: Sega Saturn

Developer: Sega AM5

Publisher: Sega

Release Date (NA): 1995

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

For a long time the name Sega was synonymous with Arcades. A large majority of the arcade cabinets and machines in the arcades had those famous blue and white letters pasted across the top. Success in the arcade almost always translated to “hey, let’s put this on our home console!” and more often than not these games were ported over. Racing games were no exception as Sega’s very own Daytona USA Championship Racing received a major push into the home market due to its success as an arcade racing game. Most of the arcade experience is lost such as the feel of holding an actual steering wheel or pressing the gas pedal with your foot; but due to Sega’s offering of the Arcade Racer (pictured below), much of the arcade experience could finally be right in your living room between your legs! Just the way you like it.

I WANT ONE SO MAYBE SONIC R WON'T SUCK SO MUCH

I WANT ONE SO MAYBE SONIC R WON’T SUCK SO MUCH

Alongside Daytona USA, Sega had another racing title on the arcade market titled Sega Rally Championship. Yes, another racing title making its way to the Sega Saturn. There are people out there that like racing games, but with a small library of games altogether in 1995, one would think the Saturn would try different genres. But oh well, this could be one of the many reasons the Saturn failed in America. But as soon as you pick up the controller and begin playing this game, you’ll quickly learn why Sega released this game to the home market and you will also instantly know why Sega Rally Championship is still highly regarded as one of the pioneers in the racing genre.

Sega Rally Championship is a racing game where you race rally cars, as opposed to Daytona USA’s stock cars. For those who may be unfamiliar, rally racing is a form of racing where modified or custom-built street-legal cars race public courses from point A to point B as opposed to racing in a circuit. In this sense, rally racing is discernibly different from stock car racing.

Sega Rally Championship offers 3 game modes: Arcade, Time attack, and 2 player battle.

Sega Rally menu

Time attack gives you the option to select a course and race unattested with the goal of getting the fastest time. Generally in time attack you are racing against yourself in an attempt to beat your previous times.

In 1995, 2 player games weren’t unheard of, but they were still pretty awesome for at-home gaming. You and a friend could pull out a game and play TOGETHER. In 2 player battle, you and a friend could duke it out for 1st place as you raced on the course of your choosing.

Sega Rally Championship

Arcade Mode

The Arcade mode is the main game mode of Sega Rally Championship (SRC). In this mode you race against 14 other racers. There are three courses in arcade mode: The Desert, The Forest, and The Mountain and you race them in that order. Each race takes about 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds, depending on how slow or how fast you drive. So in a sense, with loading time and everything, Sega Rally Championship is a very short game lasting around 5 minutes.

sega_rally_championship

You will start in The Desert in last place (15/15) and how you finish determines your starting position for the next race in The Forest; and how you finish in The Forest determines your starting position for The Mountain. The odd thing is, you do not start any race side by side with your opponents. You begin at the starting line by yourself and your opponents are already on the track ahead of or behind you. Catching up to them and passing them is wildly difficult but they were kind enough to allow your final positioning to carry over into the next race.

Ultimately if you win (i.e. finish in first place in The Mountain course), you will now race in the 4th course, AKA Lakeside. Lakeside is only available as a bonus course but once unlocked, it is playable in the 2 player battle and time attack modes.

As you can see, the terrain varies and affects your vehicle's controlling.

As you can see, the terrain varies and affects your vehicle’s controlling.

The Meat

Aside from how short SRC is, how well does this game play? And the answer needs only one word: Incredibly. The races – not the depth (or lack thereof) or the graphics – are the meat of the game. For a game nearing 20 years of age, I am entirely in awe at the sheer detail given to car handling, friction control, and the like. SRC is a unique racing game being one of the pioneers in the racing genre due to their inclusion of different ground surfaces that actually affect the control of the vehicle. There are a variety of surfaces such as asphalt, dirt, sand, and mud. This was pretty revolutionary for the time and really added a level of realism to the game.

Furthermore, Sega Rally Championship featured some of the most responsive vehicle controls of its time. The rally cars handle like, well, like real cars. Sharp turns require skillful precision button combinations. For example, making a medium right turn would require holding down right on the d-pad while toggling between gas and break. The amount of breaking or acceleration was entirely up to you and was how one would hone their skills. The game mechanics were on the cutting edge for 1995 and many future racing games owe their success to Sega.

Sega Rally Mountain Cleared

Upon playing the game many times through, you will quickly learn how your car handles on certain surfaces and can make proper adjustments as necessary. For a zig-zag style turn (one that goes left and then immediately goes right or vice versa), you can use your knowledge of the surface below you and your own abilities to skillfully put your car into a drift before the turn even approaches and then whip the tail to turn right before you’ve even hit the left turn. It sounds confusing but making your turn correctly before your turn approaches is how you can cut the edges and save time. Maneuvers like this are just an example of how important it is to shave seconds off your final time.

While the graphics are nothing to write home about and are less than memorable, Sega AM5 did a great job of texturing the land and detailing the backgrounds. Colors and textures are varied enough to see a difference between the drivable terrain and inaccessible terrain. I really enjoyed the sunset-colored sky in Lakeside. Stunning. Simply put, the graphics are just good enough to be functional but never seem to get in the way of actual gameplay. The music sounds like your stereotypical Sega tunes, and in fact there are a few songs here that remind me A LOT of Sonic & Knuckles for the Sega Genesis. Think synthesizers yet in full CD-quality audio and then mash that with Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s Chemical Plant Zone and Sonic & Knuckles’ Mushroom Hill Zone and you’ll have an idea of some of the songs found here.

Conclusion

Overall, Sega Rally Championship is one hell of a good racing game in some aspects but only provides a moderate amount of enjoyment. No matter how good a game is, it needs to have some replayability and a certain amount of depth to keep people engaged. Much like Sonic R on the Sega Saturn, Sega Rally Championship is just too short with very little to keep anyone occupied past a few frustrating, yet oddly enjoyable, run-throughs. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t cram a few more tracks, cars, or any customizable aspects to this game.

Bonus stage: Lakeside

Bonus stage: Lakeside

Despite all of Sega Rally Championship’s shortcomings, there is a lot to enjoy here even if only for a short period of time. Drifting is a difficult thing to master, but learning how to do it and control it through a long turn provides a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. SRC was responsible for a number of accomplishments and paved the way for many future racing games. Fortunately Sega made a sequel which was released for the Sega Dreamcast. I can’t recommend this game for more than a few dollars, but if you find it for cheap, it’s worth a pick up as it will give you some fun times, albeit shortlived.

Sega_Rally_2

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry


Nerdberry here. It’s about time I updated this badboy (been a loooong time). I’m currently loving time on my Xbox 360, as I destroy aliens left and right through the Gears of War games (man these games are good).

But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my love for retro-gaming! My wife and I just bought a house (December, 2015) and we have a baby due ANY DAY NOW (my mini-nerdette-berry is 1 day late as of December 10th), so I haven’t fully unpacked the hundreds of cartridges that I own.

BACONEER ENGINEER EATIN’ STEER… AND PORK.

 
 

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