Gentlemen, start your engines! It’s time for the 10 Best Racing Games. We're warning you, there are going to be fans angry at us for not including titles like Gran Turismo, F1- Grand Prix, and Super Off Road. However, we had to look at the bigger picture. Racing isn’t just simulation racing or sports racing. It’s any sort of game where your goal is to get to the finish line before your opponent. Thus we had to consider kart racers, gravity racers, and all those weird racing offshoots that cared more about car crashes than clean finishes. Drift into and enjoy our list of the 10 Best Racing Games of all time.
RC Pro Am was one of the first racing games to allow you to use weapons on your opponents. In a way, it created the genre of “Kart Racer” and that’s why it makes our list of the 10 Best Racing Games. The one thing that was different from RC Pro Am and kart racers of today, was the fact that RC Pro Am was controlled from a top down perspective, not a behind the car perspective.
Since we are already speaking of important racing games of the past, Pole Position basically created the racing formula we know and love today. It put the view point of the player behind the car, and used pseudo 3D graphics to simulate a moving road. Believe it or not, this is still what is done today, even in HD polygonal games. Your car isn’t moving at all. The world is just moving around it.
Wipeout took racing to a whole other level by ditching gravity. It was less a serious simulation game and more a high speed thrill ride that took advantage of primitive polygonal graphics. It’s one of Sony’s most loved racing brands today, and we are still seeing new Wipeout games.
Forza 4 didn’t complicate things with power-ups or boosts. It just provided solid simulationist driving action. It was one of the games that started the trend of actually allowing gamers to make the game harder on themselves, in order to become more like driving a real car. Forza continues to be one of Microsoft’s most treasured properties, and has found continued success on the Xbox One.
Outrun was the most well-known arcade racing game back when developers were still struggling with bit size. It inspired tons of clones, like Squaresoft’s Rad Racer, though it, itself, was very much a clone of Pole Position. But you know what Outrun had that Pole Position didn’t have? That’s right! Blast Processing! The feeling of the wind rushing through your hair as you drove along the coastline in a convertible was just too awesome and wasn’t replicated by racing games for a long time.
Excitebike broke all the racing rules. It was a 2D side-view motorcycle game that introduced tilt physics and an overheat meter. It was one of the first games to have a track editor. It served as inspiration for the Trials series of motorcycle physics games. In a way, it served as inspiration for all off road motorcycle games that came after it. That’s why it’s on our list of 10 Best Racing Games.
Burnout is a series that is less about racing and more about crashing. Its boost mechanic allowed you to scream down the road at incredibly reckless speeds. It was great for finishing races quick, but was even better for running your opponents off the road in gigantic balls of fire. In fact, there were game modes that were actually all about causing as much wanton destruction as possible, rather than trying to finish in first.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted also added a twist to the traditional racing formula, and that twist was the cops. Now you didn’t only have to finish in first, you had to avoid being pulled over and arrested. This was especially fun in multiplayer which allowed you to try and take down your friends!
Falcon PUUUUUNCH!... really has nothing to do with F-Zero, as the game stands as a racing masterpiece independent from its manly protagonist Captain Falcon. This futuristic zero-G racer had Nintendo fans hooked during the SNES, N64 and Gamecube eras but hasn’t shown up since. Fans are still petitioning Nintendo to create a new F-Zero, but unfortunately their cries seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Super Mario Kart had already well-established the kart racing genre at the time that Mario Kart 64 came out, but Mario Kart 64 perfected it. The course design in Mario Kart 64 was exquisite, with tons of secrets and shortcuts to keep you discovering new things even hundreds of races in. The battle mode was the best in the series, lending itself to hours of versus gameplay without a finish line. Finally, and most importantly, it introduced the bane of all racers everywhere: the Blue Shell, and they haven’t gone away since. Mario Kart speeds its way into the #1 slot on our list of the 10 Best Racing Games.
The 5 Best Video Game Vehicles for Your Morning Commute
next: 8 best racing game power-ups