Top 5 Arcade Racing Games of the 1980's
A staple of the arcade scene was the racing game. From primitive roots in games like Night Driver and Gran Trak 10 to the impressive modern titles we have today, the racing game has been there through the ups and downs of the arcade's history.
The most formative years of the arcade is definitely the 1980's, so today I present my top 5 best arcade racing games from that decade.
#5 Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road
I was always drawn to this hulking machine, which was probably the tallest arcade game I ever encountered, with its bright colors and three steering wheels. While all the other racing games on the market put in you race cars or exotics racing down coastal highways, Super Off Road was about navigating a track full of hills, bumps and ramps in your tricked out truck. The 'nitro' feature really made this game, which gave you a limited number of boosts that could rocket you over a tricky ramp or out in front of the pack.
#4 Road Blasters
When I think of ambient arcade music, the attract screens of Road Blasters is always front and center. Atari had some really great music in their games of the mid-80's and this doesn't disappoint. Taking a different approach than other games of the era, this was a Mad Max-style road rally where you have to reach the end of the course while picking up fuel pods and fighting off other cars. Your racer is equipped with front-mounted blasters and you can pick up weapon upgrades in later courses.
#3 Super Sprint
My personal favorite, this game game in two flavors -- the two player Championship Sprint and the three player Super Sprint. The game used an overhead perspective and put in in control of wildly fun formula cars that whip around the track. The steering wheels of the arcade machine spin freely, which let you rip the wheel into frantic spins as you scream around corners at full speed. Picking up wrench icons that appear on the track let you upgrade your car between races.
Add classic sound effects and great music and you've got one of the greatest arcade games of all time, IMO.
#2 Pole Position
While its not the first or the best, I'd argue that Pole Position is the most important racing game of all time. Hitting in 1982, the game managed to present the first solid behind-the-car racing game of the arcade era. The iconic fanfare that preps you for a race, paired with the scratchy digital voice saying "prepare to qualify" are absolutely classic.
Arguably the most beloved arcade racing game of all time, Sega's Outrun blew people's minds with the amazing, colorful smooth graphics, tight gameplay and classic music. The branching paths was a unique element that gave the game replayability and the force feedback that shook the steering wheel when you crashed was novel and made the game more immersive.