Top 10 Forgotten Racing Games That Are Still Great to Play

Tags: #Outrunners ,   #RacingGames ,   #MidnightClub ,   #NeedForSpeed

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2021-09-06 14:03:06

Racing games have been around for half a century, so there are thousands of them, with more coming every year. While some of these titles are highly praised, many went into obscurity, primarily because of how bad they were. However, some great racers are undeservedly forgotten for one reason or the other. That's why we dug deep to find these gems that are not only perfectly playable today but have elements you won't find anywhere else! While you have maybe heard about some of these, now it's time to remind you how good they are.

10. Formula One Championship Edition (PS3, 2007)

Formula One Championship Edition looks ever better in RPCS3 - the PlayStation 3 emulator

As Codemasters produces an excellent F1 series, you can assume that all the previous titles based on the championship are obsolete. However, that's not the case with the Formula One Championship Edition. Despite being released during the PS3 launch window, this game still has plenty to offer. This includes excellent controls halfway between arcade and simulation, although you can still adjust various settings. The racing is entertaining, as the AI is challenging while still rarely running into you. 

Even though the career mode can't compete against modern Formula One games, it still offers plenty. Passing a driving test is already a challenge before you start building your reputation and moving to better teams. Also, it helps that the game is focused on the legendary 2006 Formula One season. To remind you, this was the final year for Michael Schumacher in Ferrari before his first retirement. Finally, this title still looks really pretty even on modern gaming TV, with clean textures and an excellent sense of speed!

9. Pure (PS3/Xbox 360/PC, 2008)

Pure is fast, spectacular, and easy to play

Thanks to its racing games, now defunct Black Rock Studio was a highly regarded game developer in the first decade of the 21st century. After setting the tone with its excellent MotoGP and ATV series, they went extreme with Pure. This trick racing game was a genuine arcade, set in massive environments all around the world. Being fast wasn't enough here, as you had to do dangerous stunts to earn a boost. However, abusing the same trick wouldn't work, as the game would punish you with less power.

While the gameplay doesn't offer much depth, Pure keeps things fresh with various racing modes. Unlike the standard competition, sprint almost eliminates stunts, so you can't rely on the boost. On the opposite end, Freestyle races are all about tricks, as you have to collect more points than your opponents. Ultimately, Pure is a beautiful and original game best played in short bursts. Furthermore, you can play it on Xbox Series X  or S.

8. Mercedes-Benz Truck Racing (Windows, 2000)

Mercedes Benz Truck Racing is pretty easy to play

Mercedes-Benz Truck Racing is one of the rare games based on the European Truck Racing Championship. This is the racing title like you haven't experienced, as these massive machines are a challenge to drive. The developer Synetic was focused on building a simulation, so expect realistic controls and quite an impressive damage model. One more fun element is the strategy since you have a limited water supply to cool down your brakes!

One thing that might disappoint you is that trucks have a speed limit, so you can't go past 160 km/s (100 mph). Still, the twisted tracks offer plenty of challenges. These include legendary racing environments like Zolder, Donington, Misano, or Nuerburgring. For a piece of software released in 2000, Mercedes-Benz Truck Racing still looks impressive, and it could easily be mistaken for a PS3 title. Give it a chance, as it works on modern computers!

7. Batman (Arcade, 2013)

Batman is a fast and furious arcade

Releasing an arcade-exclusive game in the 21st century is one sure way to make it obscure day one! Unfortunately, that's what happened to this Specular Interactive Batman title. The name of the game doesn't say much, but this is a vehicle combat game that will let you drive the most iconic Batmobiles! Cars are the stars here, including the models from the original TV series, the 1989 movie, or even the animation! Of course, you also get to test creations made for Nolan's and Schumacher's Batmans and even the one from Batman: Arkham Asylum.

While the Batman Returns for the Sega CD had vehicular combat, this game does it like a million times better! Though you'll fight regular goons, expect confrontations with famous villains on the streets of Gotham. This version of the city looks stunning, as it's very diverse and rather big for an arcade title. While the home version would have to lose the Batmobile-styled arcade cabinet and hundreds of shifting LEDs, we would still buy it on day one! However, with all the licenses involved, that might not ever happen. Alternatively, you can play this title on your PC using an emulator.

6. World Rally Fever: Born on the Road (DOS, 1996)

Timeless graphics and fun but hard racing in World Rally Fever

World Rally Fever is such an anomaly that it's not hard to figure out why it stayed obscure for decades. If you didn't know better, you would probably think that this is a Sega arcade-only game, made in the early nineties. However, this title created by unknown Belgian developer Split stayed a DOS exclusive, with no other versions ever in development. Talking about this game without mentioning its stunning, timeless graphics would be a crime. The environment's design looks like it comes from a high-profile anime, with lots of details to enjoy.

However, as you race against seven aggressive opponents, you might not have much time for sightseeing. Like in Mario Kart, you have items to collect, which becomes a critical element of the more demanding championships. World Rally Fever is very challenging, as many stages have obstacles on the track, including walls or even sheep. Luckily, you can jump, although you don't have much space for error. With a surprising amount of content, fun arcade controls, and beautiful visuals, this is the title that everyone needs to give a chance. Since you can buy it on GOG, there's no excuse to miss it! 

5. Mobil 1 Rally Championship/Rally Championship 2000 (Windows, 1999)

No other game has such long tracks as Mobil 1 Rally Championship

There are plenty of realistic rally games, but they all make massive compromises regarding the special stages. Even the official WRC games feature fictional roads or, in the best scenario, use small segments of real ones. Compare that to Mobil 1 Rally Championship, which has over 600 km (400 miles) of authentic paths! Ultimately, it means that 15 km (9 miles) stages are standard, with plenty being much longer. Moreover, there are even marathon-length beasts that will test your skills to the maximum! There is simply no space for error, as the damage will create a living hell for you. Driving for half an hour during the night with your lights barely functioning is scarier than any Resident Evil!

While the graphics don't look so exciting today, the gameplay is still fun, especially with friends. You can play this title in a hot-seat mode, which is desperately lacking from the best rally racing games in the past decade. One thing to notice is that you'll need to install fan patches to make Rally Championship 2000 work on modern gaming PCs. Furthermore, some of them even enhance the experience with better controls or widescreen support.

4. The Need for Speed Special Edition (DOS/Windows, 1996)

The complete look at the Need for Speed: Special Edition

No, we're not talking about the crappy 2015 Need for Speed, but the original title in the famed Electronic Arts series! While the initial version appeared as a 3DO exclusive, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC received improved editions soon after. Yet, that wasn't enough, as DOS and Windows gamers were lucky to experience enhanced The Need for Speed Special Edition. 

This title was a complete package, offering authentic supercars like Lamborghini Diablo, Dodge Viper, or Porsche 911. Unlike most of its sequels, the focus was on sim racing, which included real performance and realistic handling. Also, it was one of the earliest racing games with a fully animated cockpit! Furthermore, we love the stunning design of the tracks, especially three linear ones, chopped into segments. Add to that races on the open road with traffic and the police who can easily arrest you for dangerous driving! With top presentation, which includes a showcase for each car and track, this remains one of the best entries in the series. Now, where's the remake?

3. Screamer (DOS, 1995)

Screamer is the definition of the perfect arcade racer

Unfortunately, the Italian Milestone is best known for its endless line of mediocre motorbike games. Still, a long time ago, they were doing things a lot better! As fast arcade racers dominated the middle of the nineties, the company offered something to challenge Ridge Racer or Daytona USA. Screamer was one the best-looking PC games at its release, without anything matching it on PlayStation or Sega Saturn. Even today, the tracks are gorgeous to look at, with an incredible level of detail. Plus, the high-resolution mode and 60 frames per second make everything better.

Luckily, Screamer also offers fantastic arcade gameplay, with massive powerslides and an incredible sense of speed! As you race nine aggressive opponents and the time limit, you'll be constantly engaged. Unlike its contemporaries, this title offers much more cars and tracks and even a championship mode. Together with unlockable content, this positively affects the replay value. Finally, let's mention that the series continued strong with Screamer 2 and Screamer Rally, even though they are radically different titles. There's also Screamer 4x4, but don't waste your time on it!

2. Midnight Club: Los Angeles (PS3/Xbox 360, 2008)

Play Midnight Club; Los Angeles on Xbox Series X if you can

After the first "Fast and Furious" movie, every developer tried to replicate the atmosphere of illegal street races in video games. However, the excellent Need for Speed Underground series had only one rival – Midnight Club. As a spiritual sequel to the Midtown Madness series, these titles gave us tons of cities to explore and drive. In that sense, console-exclusive Midnight Club: Los Angeles was a bit different, focusing on a single metropolis. However, despite this, the game offers more content than its predecessors. In a typical Rockstar manner, the city is massive and detailed, with realistic traffic and a 24-hour cycle.

Yet, the racing is still unapologetically arcade, as you can slow down time, hurt your opponents or become unstoppable for a while. Add traffic and police into this mix, and you'll get frantic action! One thing we can't forget are the excellent tuning options, letting you customize both looks and performance. We highly suggest getting the Complete Edition if you decide to try it, as it contains all DLCs. This includes a new area, more cars, and better-balanced gameplay. Oh, get the Xbox 360 version, as it clearly looks better.

1. Outrunners (Arcade, 1993)

Outrunners needs to be ported to modern systems!

While the legendary OutRun has only a single official sequel, Sega produced tons of spinoff titles in the nineties. Even though lots of them are below average, Outrunners is one huge exception. This game was introduced in 1993 for the mighty System 32 arcade, sporting brilliant two-dimensional graphics with massive and detailed sprites. At that time, home systems weren't good enough even to replicate the original Outrun from 1986! However, visuals were just part of the charm.

This time, the focus wasn't on Ferrari, although it was the option. There were also seven other cars and drivers, ranging from Beetle to Lamborghini Diablo, all with different handling, acceleration, and maximum speed. Additionally, the game was non-linear, with ten possible endings. Yet, the best feature was eight-player multiplayer racing, although not many experienced it. Unfortunately, Outrunners can be found only on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console, but this port is relatively poor. It's baffling that Sega still hasn't released a proper home version.

So many other titles deserve recognition, so we suggest trying Ignition, Driver: San Francisco, Vanishing Point, Speed Busters, and many more. Like the titles that made our top 10, all of them are playable while containing original elements that still make them unique. While you can play some of them on modern consoles thanks to their backward compatibility, PC is the top choice for this task.

What other racing games do you think are underappreciated and totally forgotten? Did you play some of the titles we mentioned and enjoyed them as we did? Share your memories in the comments!

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