Format reviewed: Arcade
Is Sega Rally the best arcade racer ever? As these memorable moments suggest, it just might be…
Not The One In Thurrock
You’d prefer not to think about just how much money you’ve sunk into Sega Rally. It might have started out as just another fun racing game, but the challenge quickly turned into an obsession. The three main courses were conquered a while ago, but the other fourteen racers proved to be an entirely more stubborn challenge and second place finishes racked up all too quickly. But countless practice runs paid off and at last, you finished the Mountain course in first place.
But the game wasn’t over, as one final challenge awaited – Lakeside. Having made it to the head of the pack, your new goal was to keep that position on a brand new course. The stunning autumnal colours provided a beautiful setting for the game’s most difficult course. Narrowest, winding and slippery, Lakeside’s roads proved a stern challenge for even the best drivers. But on that day, you weren’t the best driver and you lost first place. Receiving a taste of the final stage just made you hungry for more. One more credit, then…
The courses of Sega Rally ranged from tarmac streets to dusty desert roads, with each surface having its own unique effect on your car’s handling. While each was a pleasure to drive on, particularly due to the arcade game’s force feedback wheel, the most satisfying moments came from the jumps into muddy puddles on the first course. There’s just something about that which appeals to our more childish instincts.
Sega Rally’s desert course contains a classic arcade flourish – the helicopter flying over the track. As you near the finish line, a helicopter flies into view, kicking up dust on the track as it swoops low before flying away. Helicopter flypasts are a signature of Namco’s Ridge Racer series, and the addition of extra visual effects is a piece of one-upmanship typical of Sega’s arcade rivalry with Namco.
Sega Rally only featured two cars, but they certainly were memorable. Did you plump for the light, boxy Lancia Delta or the sleek, heavy Toyota Celica? The limited selection of cars was perfect for the multiplayer, which unusually for the era was limited to just two players. The image of the Toyota Celica and Lancia Delta battling it out became so iconic that both cars have returned for every Sega Rally.
Sega Rally composer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi might well be one of the happiest men on the planet – if you don’t believe us, take a look at some videos of him on YouTube. Even his game over themes are incredibly upbeat, with Sega Rally’s being particularly memorable. While it usually signifies that you’ve lost, you’ll feel like a winner regardless – you just can’t feel down after hearing this jingle.