By on June 5, 2017

FH3 Press Photo

Most gearheads of a certain age got their first tastes of behind-the-wheel speed not through their right foot but through their right thumb. Atari, Nintendo, PC … or – for the youngsters among us – PlayStation and Xbox.

Me? Well, here’s the one that hooked me into the world of pixelated dashboards and synthesized exhausts.

TD by Accolade

That’s right, folks. Your humble author poured hours upon hours into Test Drive: The Game upon discovering it in a school computer lab in 1988. Many virtual miles were spent driving up that poorly rendered Highway 1, only to have it all come to naught with a terribly timed overtaking maneuver resulting in a cracked windshield and much pounding of the computer keyboard. This vexed my elementary school teachers.

Other games littered my hard drive over the years, including atrocious examples of monster truck games, which were basically car-flattening exercises accompanied by the sound of screeching tires … on gravel, natch. I never fully figured that one out. The only thing that would annoy me more is when a coder would append FiveLiterMustang.wav to a virtual Honda Civic.

Thirty years later, I find myself enjoying Forza Horizon 3, an open-sandbox type game set in Australia on Xbox. It’s physics-defying feats of automotive silliness are not grounded in reality, but the scenery is jaw-dropping and, somehow, the simulated party atmosphere actually makes a player feel they’re in the middle of a car-themed festival. It doesn’t top the original Forza Horizon on either of those counts, though, and the less said about Horizon 2, the better.

I gave up on Gran Turismo for PlayStation after being frustrated by the lack of in-car camera views and gestation periods rivalling that of continental drift. These days, I’ll reach for Forza 6 and my Thrustmaster (Isn’t that a great name? THRUSTMATER) wheel and pedal combo if I want more a serious driving simulation.

How about you? What was the first digital driving game you remember? Yes, MarioKart counts. So does the Crash Bandicoot CTR game on PS1. Alternatively, what’s the game you enjoy today? You can go ahead and click one of the three recommended articles below.

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87 Comments on “QOTD: What Racing Game Hooked You?...”

  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    Pole Position.

    Spent many hours playing on my home Atari 8-bit, as well as a stand-up arcade version in a bar/restaurant in my family’s hometown in northern Wisconsin.

    Went back in the late ’90s – they still had the game, and I still had the high score.

  • avatar

    Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road was a fun old game.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh yes, this game. Between that, RC Pro Am on the NES, and Hard Drivin’ at the arcade, I couldn’t get enough.

      I was that one kid in the corner truck who would consistently fling the steering wheel around on turns like I was steering a 18th century frigate.

  • avatar

    Project Gotham got me to buy a MINI Cooper S, Forza got me into 911s.

    • 0 avatar

      Project Gotham was fantastic but let’s not forget its predecessor, Metropolis Street Racer. MSR seemed a bit more down-to-earth (you started with a Megane or Astra!) and had a ton of character. Then again, Project Gotham Racing 2 has a track through my hood which includes the building where I got married, so that’s cool…

      • 0 avatar

        I remember racing for Kudos, and picking the Viper simply because it was easy to lose rear traction on it all the time, and that made it easy to combo kudos drift points.

  • avatar

    Road Race on the Commodore VIC-20 is my earliest racing game memory. I still have it and it works! Black background with a yellow hood sticking out in front of you.

    After that, Pole Position on the C64, along with Racing Destruction Set where you could build crazy tracks. 4×4 Offroad Racing and Spy Hunter stand out too.

    I agree on Test Drive. I played that for many hours on the C64 as well. The load times were so long that I started drawing the cars from memory.

    After that, The Need for Speed series became my obsession once I switched to the PC. Sega Rally and Carmageddon were others.

    Now, it’s Forza Horizon. I don’t have 3 yet, but 1 and 2 were great.

  • avatar

    Stunts. Being able to build your own stunt track was awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I played that one. It was hard for me to figure out at age eight. I made a lot of loops, and didn’t understand why I kept falling to my death at the top of them.

    • 0 avatar

      YES. I was trying to remember which was the first, it must have been Stunts. Stunts -> Indycar Racing -> Need for Speed 2 -> NFS3:HP -> NFS:HS -> Project Gotham Racing -> PGR:2 -> NFS:U -> NFS:U2 -> Forza 1 -> PGR:3 -> NFS:MW -> NFS:C -> Forza 2 -> Forza 3 -> Forza 4

  • avatar

    Need for Speed II for PC, it had 3dfx support so I could get accelerated 3D on my Voodoo1 card. I could race against a friend in the same town with the built in support for directly dialing their PC with a copy of the game.

  • avatar

    Need for Speed II. I remember my dad and I went down to Staples to buy it for my brother’s birthday. We installed it on our Staples-purchased Compaq computer to make sure it could handle it (to avoid any birthday frustrations). Boy did we ever get our money’s worth out of that game. Beat all of the gameplay options, spent hours playing the split screen mode where you share a single keyboard for controls (one plays WASD, the other numpad arrow keys). Found the cheat codes (“PIONEER” for a super powerful engine cheat), cheats to drive stuff like school buses and other in-game traffic. So before long we were doing split screen school bus races with the super powerful motor cheat. Ah good times! Later got NFS III Hot Pursuit (with police chase mode), NFS High Stakes (the one with pink slips, playable police mode with deployable spike strips and a damage model). Then came my ricer days with NFS Underground, etc. Stopped following the series once I got into college, no idea what the latest one is all about now.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget the T-Rex, or the Oregon Trail wagon!

      I played the NFS games quite a bit, still okay High Stakes here and there. I quit following after Carbon since that’s kinda when their quality dipped.

      I did give Hot Pursuit a shot (the newest one, as EAs just re using titles), couldn’t really get into it.

    • 0 avatar

      Need for Speed III was mine. I remember playing split-screen with my friend, or trying to – the Microsoft Natural keyboard we had has a *terrible* little arrow-key setup with left/right squished together and up/down above and below them. Squeeze your index and ring fingertips together and hold ’em for a bit… yeah.

      (Playing split-screen can, accidentally or intentionally, give away the position of a friend-playing-as-a-cop, though.)

      It’s the game that got me into modding, too, so it deserves some blame/credit there. Eventually, that Win95 machine crumbled badly enough that IE5 would no longer download files, and I had to transfer mods from another computer via floppy disk, provided they were <1.4 MB in size (and most were).

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Forza Motorsport 4 for he Xbox 360 was as good as a racing game could get. Nearly everything you could think of was in the game (except Porsche) including the Mustang II, everything had a fully detailed interior, the rewind mechanic eliminated the frustration factor, and it looked gorgeous and ran very smooth on that old crappy console. Forza 5 was an awful mess lacking lots of car models, rampant microtransactions and DLC, and horribly laid out interface. Forza 6 resolves all of these problems, and is a fun game to play, but I feel like the car world was a better place with the old C63 and M3 as opposed to today’s buzzy twin turbo models.

  • avatar

    I’m too old for that. In my case it was a movie, LeMans.

    I have done some iRacing, but not lately. I spend the whole day in front of a screen, and don’t need to do that at night.

  • avatar

    Hydro Thunder

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    Sega’s Hang On and Out Run both piqued my interest as an itty-bitty boy (with a little help from Ford Simulator on DOS). But I was far too young. It wasn’t until Gran Turismo 2 that I became an unhealthily obsessed individual.

  • avatar

    I reckon it was one of the Atari Super Sprint games. And Night Driver. I’ve always like racing games, but these days I’m not so hot on track racing. I prefer more ‘open world’ racing games like Test Drive: Unlimited.

    I don’t like MMOs, either, but I really miss Motor City Online.

  • avatar

    Cruisin USA in the arcade, and eventually on N64. Pretty basic game but addicting to 10-13 year old me

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Police car.

      • 0 avatar

        Hummer (with 4 speed clutchless manual!)

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Oh yeah, I remember the manual shift now. I never did that, I’d watch kids lose who were playing before me, and they were always trying manual mode.

          Forgot all about the Hummer in there.

          Police car
          Rat rod?

          • 0 avatar

            The manual was fun and I’m sure it was faster if you knew what you were doing but I’d always get too excited and forget to shift back to 1st after crashing.

            There were at least a couple vague sporty cars, a generic Ferrari, and a baja bug.

          • 0 avatar

            The Hummer was Cruisn the World, honk the horn and it shot a machine gun!

            In USA you had these choices:
            A silver Camaro?
            Rat rod
            C2 Corvette

            With cheats you got a flattened School Bus, Cop Buick Roadmaster, or a Jeep.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    The woman in that Marquis looks quite surprised.

    Mine was original Nintendo – Rad Racer. Ferrari 328 FTW! (Mostly lose.)

  • avatar

    Think I started with NASCAR 98 for PlayStation but it wasn’t until Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2 that I got completely hooked.

  • avatar

    Couldn’t quit playing Jaguar XJ220 on my Amiga. Had a Lotus game, too, and later dreamt of Test Drive on my newly acquired 66MHz powerhouse of a PC.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    Not really a driving game in this context, but… Spy Hunter. I spent most of my family’s stay at a Holiday Inn “Holidome” on a 1985 summer vacation pouring quarters into that game.

    Thirty-plus years later and ostensibly grown up, I’ll still occasionally play Real Racing 3 on my iPhone.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      ABSOLUTELY Spy Hunter. I forgot all about it. Got so mad when I’d miss the power-up trailer.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Ha! That just brought back a lot of memories (of great frustration!) Ditto for the boathouse.

        • 0 avatar

          The C64 version of Spy Hunter got to be more fun once I figured out how to bump the knifey wheeled cars off the road- you just had to hit their rear bumper while you were simultaneously swerving. I don’t know if that trick worked in the arcade or not. I have memories of putting one joystick on the floor and pressing the button with my toes to alternate the smoke screen and oil slick, since the C64/Atari joysticks only had a single button and that one was used for the machine guns or shot the rocket, once you got those.

  • avatar

    Gran Turismo 3 and 4 for me. Also played Gran Turismo 5 quite bit. I also remember Enthusia, but didn’t play it much. I’m 22 now and don’t play video games much anymore, But I do have on my computer, and do play around with that sometimes.

  • avatar

    Original Test Drive for the PC. In 16 shades of green, lol.
    As racing games moved more towards trying to use “realistic physics” I lost interest because I never seemed to have the feel of the correct speed for getting around corner without seat of the pants feel. So I went in a different direction with driving games. To that end…
    My buddy and I spent a lot of time playing Speed Racer on the C64. (That’s the one where you either try and miss all the people for angel points, or try and hit all the people for devil points).
    The one I probably played the most was Destruction Derby on the PC. (Still remember loving the other drivers telling you off in their British accents “you’ll pay for that!”)
    Carmageddon was another fav.

    • 0 avatar

      Ooooh, Carmageddon. Now there was a game that was NOT very nice. There were a few development versions of it or maybe I might have seen a variation or two meant for different markets. I swear I remember an intro with the driver’s face laughing (cackling) and the slogan “The most evil driving game, ever” on the screen.

      The cow mission on that one was fun- get the car up to 200mph and then get it sideways right before sliding through the herd. Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!

  • avatar

    RAD RACER initially for the good old NES. Dang Corvettes in the Las Vegas night stage! The AI for the computer drivers on that game was pretty dimwitted but evil at the same time.

    GT2 was a big one for me on the PS2. But I was still never able to pass all the license tests. My favorite vehicle was my Legacy GT wagon with every conceivable modification. Still a car I’d love to own in real life.

  • avatar

    “Pass any low flying planes?”

    I was already going to make a comment about that game and lo and behold, the cracked windshield picture was the first thing I saw after clicking on the jump.

    • 0 avatar

      I love how the cops in the original Test Drive were faster than ANY of the vehicles the player was driving. This in an era where you could potentially easily outrun the police based on the slowness of the American sedans most of them were driving.

      • 0 avatar

        HA! True, all too true in the 1980s.

        If I remember right, you just had to keep above 120mph for about a minute and the cop would disappear from the rear view mirror- but this was hard to do without crashing into an oncoming car, rear-ending a car while waiting for an oncoming car to clear, or the cop catching up while you were slowed down behind the car you were trying to not rear-end.

        Passes in test Drive 2 was a bit easier- you could just about squeeze between the oncoming and own-direction cars. Hehehe

        The steering wheel/joystick interface was really well done in that game. I think that made a big difference compared to contemporary driving games for home computers.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Twisted Metal. Although, I liked TM2 better because you could blow up the Eiffel Tower. I also spent too much time running the bicycle course in ESPN Extreme Games.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Oh yeah, loved some multiplayer Twisted Metal. Which was the one with the North Pole? Played that one a lot with my siblings. I recall Washington DC as well.

      We fought over who got to be the ice cream truck, or that red Ferrari thing. The weapon pickups in the later games evened out the playing field a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      While I’m not sure i’d consider it a racing game, Twisted Metal will always hold a very special place in my heart. I still got the Twisted Metal 4 CD in my room somewhere. Such an awesome game. Pretty sure I still have the D-Pad commands to teleport and stuff memorized lol.

  • avatar

    Rush 2 for N64. That game was fun because it had damage and the cars exploded.

    At a later time, NASCAR Thunder 2004 for the original Xbox, which had a very addictive career mode.

  • avatar

    I’m so old it’s hard for me to pin down exactly what hooked me. It may be Enduro by Activision for the Atari 2600. It’s basically a clone of Night Driver with more features. My friend Ron had a copy and we played it endlessly for quite some time.

    A little after that, I had Grand Prix Circuit for the Commodore 64, and my brother and I played the heck out of that. There are a lot of racing games in the arcade that got me hooked, too. Like Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road, and Super Sprint. On Nintendo, RC Pro Am was legit. And let’s not forget Racing Destruction Set for the Commodore 64, too.

    If someone said any of the Grand Turismo games, I’m right there with them. GT2 was the first I ever played and despite the silly licensing challenges, it was truly a great game. GT4 is the only reason I keep a PS2 around (haven’t taken the leap to buy anything newer, I’m a cheapskate.)

    It didn’t help that I grew up in close proximity to Indianapolis, and saw the 1982 500 from the turn 3 infield. It’s a wonder I didn’t get into real racing.

    • 0 avatar

      Grand Prix Circuit on the C64 was my gateway as well. Sega Rally in the arcades was another fav along with Daytona on the Dreamcast Then came a small PSX title called Tokyo Highway Battle. It was basically a stripped down version of Gran Turismo, where your task was out drift other JDM rides using credits to buy parts. However once I got into Gran Turismo nothing else mattered. GT1 and GT2 consumed my life, I was an admin on the original back in the day (ironically Sony never owned that address) and wrote the GT2 FAQ. I’ve played every GT game up thru 6. Then I got my 350Z and starting doing the real thing at track days so video games can’t really compete.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    Mario Kart 64, Rush 2, and some NASCAR game I got with my PlayStation 1 (Yeah, I was one of those kids with both systems) were my first racing games. I liked Mario Kart a lot more for its party-like approach and endless replay value. Thinking back, it’s not too technical of a racing game, but you do learn some basic things about how to take corners a certain way and what not. Although, it usually didn’t matter because you knew, eventually, someone was going to get that blue shell and mess your day up.

    Fast forward 15 years and I’ve poured hours upon hours into Need for Speed Shift 2 Unleashed on PC. It’s not the greatest racing sim, but it’s a lot of fun and looks and sounds great. Helmet Cam mode only, no GUI, volume cranked. I spent many nights tuning every aspect of my cars to perfection. Even convinced a few buddies to grab that game as well and every once in a while one of them will hit me up and challenge to beat a lap time at their favorite track with like a “C-Class” car.

  • avatar

    Night Driver in the arcade, then on the 2600.

    Had Test Drive on the Commodore 64 then Test Drive 2: The Dual and all the expansion packs on the Amiga, plus about a dozen other games for that platform.

    After moving to PC I had, and still have several from Bugbear, EA, SimBin, SMS, Kunos Simulazioni and on and on and ranges from off road racing to logging to road courses. No oval racing for me, I think I have one NASCAR game.

    Started with a Thrustmaster Nascar II wheel, then upgraded to force feedback with a Logitech Momo and now a Logitech G27.

    Yes, I have the full CH Fighterstick, throttle, pedals for air combat sims too.

    The Track IR is great for both driving and flying.

    There has to be something to do in WI winters and it is cheaper than skiing or snowmobiles.

  • avatar

    Nascar Rumble for PS1

    Also Nascar 98, which had one of the greatest opening movies:

    After that it was Nascar Thunder 2003 for the GameCube.

    Good times.

  • avatar

    I have been playing racing games since I could operate a computer, with my first foray being Outrun on my Tandy(!!!). The game that turned it from a casual fling to a problem though was definitely Gran Turismo 1. The ability to tune the cars was what put things over for me. I never really got into the serious sim thing, but my drug of choice now is Forza Motorsport 6. I have a dedicated room with a racing seat + wheel and I probably log 5-6 hours a week. I have a (very weak) YT channel chronicling some of my adventures as well.

    I think people seriously undervalue the fun and carryover racing games have. I am definitely a better driver in real life thanks to the skills I’ve gained from sim racing. And there are a few guys who have gone into professional racing just on the strength of their sim racing experience. It also beats the hell out of “enthusiastic” street driving or even track days (when you factor in the risk).

  • avatar

    I’ve always enjoyed driving/racing games. I can’t say which one in particular hooked me but I can say that the earlier ones and for that matter a few of the later ones were frustrating because of the very light steering.

    The games that got me excited were Driver, Burnout:Paradise, and the first Gran Turismo.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Driver, the game with the near-impossible licensing tests.
      The game where the traffic will run into you randomly.
      Where your hubcaps fly off at will.

      (My favorite thing was to drive along with traffic, and see if I could make it up to Coral Gables without the hubcaps coming off.)

  • avatar

    As a teen, I spent way too many quarters playing Outrun when I came back from Germany.

    But the game that I spent too much time on at home (eventually) was NFS: Porsche Unleashed. I loved selecting cars like the 914 and 944. I went “all out” and bought a steering wheel/pedal set for my PC and lost many an hour to running vintage Porsches up and down the roads. Sure, there are likely better racing games out there, but that one spoke to me.

    Today, I barely touch video games, much less racing games…kinda miss it.

  • avatar
    John R

    Daytona USA in the arcades, then Gran Turismo.

  • avatar

    I spent hours playing Spy Hunter on my C64.

    Played Pole Position in arcade and Atari console versions. Also liked Pole Position II in arcade.

    In 1983 or 1984, dropped a lot quarters on a racing game that you had to sit and steer a wheel. Do not remember the name now but recall enjoying it a lot.

    Redline for Macintosh was amazing. No idea why Ambrosia stopped updating it. I miss that title.

    • 0 avatar

      Was the sitdown the 3 screen force feedback TX-1? That was my game in 85. There was one on base, and on an evening with no homework and $ I’d take a roll of quarters and own all 8 track records and all 8 top scores before I left. Machine got reset weekly. The very best scores came by way of the Suzuka (Japan) course. Throughout the week I’d glance at it and if anyone name other than mine was on either screen I’d drop a couple quarters and “fix” it. Track records rarely needed “correction”, I just had to run Japan enough times to keep the top 8 right screen “pure”. At the time it was unique in that you had to slow down for turns and lift throttle/counter steer to catch a slide.

  • avatar
    Jim Fekete

    I never caught the console bug, but my wife bought me Grand Prix Legends for my birthday in 1998 so I could drive the Nurburgring, and the multiplayer hooked me hard. Joined a couple leagues, including the Legends League that started on Compuserve, then moved to the web. Raced some other Papyrus sims, like Nascar2000, and also some on rFactor, but decided not to make the iRacing commitment, too much screen time needed to be respectable…

  • avatar

    I liked Pole Position, but I wasn’t hooked on it. The hooking came with Grand Prix Legends – still my favorite with all the add-ons from the community over the past almost 20 years.

  • avatar

    I found Need for Speed: Most Wanted in college, still love that game, but it really changed everything for me. Suddenly cars were no longer transportation but living things I could throw around, control differently, and modify too.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Gran Torismo! Or just GT.

    I played Need for Speed back in the mid 90s on my original PlayStation. I found Need for Speed to be very or more “unrealistic”.

    I only have a PS3 now and the only game I have for it is GT.

    I tried the steering wheel/accelerator/brake setup, but I still prefer the stock standard controler. Remote of course.

    Even Grand Theft Auto on the PS1 was “arcadey” like Need for Speed is.

  • avatar

    Gran Turismo 2 is what got me hooked and into “real” cars, though you could argue that F-Zero, Super Mario Kart, and San Francisco Rush got me into the genre.

  • avatar

    There was a Baja game that my son had on the Nintendo we had. I can’t remember the name. It was fun. I have Hill Climb Racing II on my phone.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe nobody’s picked it up in the comments. I played a lot of racing games, including Pole Position, which I got pretty good at. But one of the best racing games I’ve ever played – maybe THE best – was Mario Kart Wii.

    It’s not realistic in any way, but it really plays well. I got hooked playing it with my kid (who to this day is better at it than I am), but I enjoyed it enough to keep playing until I earned their lowest level of star certification, which is harder than it sounds.

    Crash Team Racing was basically a PSI knockoff of Mario Kart, but it was very good too, and featured original music by Mark Mothersbaugh to boot. As that detail indicates, its creators gave a first-class effort.

  • avatar

    Bump ‘n’ Jump on the Intellivision when I was a kid, Dirt Rally (when I want a challenge) and American Truck Simulator (when I just want to chill and drive around pretty landscapes) now.

  • avatar

    Whichever one happened while you were in between 15 and 25. For me it was Gran Turismo 3 through 5. I can’t tell you the number of hours I put into 4, but I can tell you I at least silvered all of the license tests, and had both a Suzuki Escudo and the F1 car. There were still a handful of races I couldn’t get the right vehicle for, mostly because you could only win it through some other race that required another obscure racecar from a third too-long endurance race.

  • avatar

    What I find interesting is that for all the racing games out there, there are VERY few standard driving simulators. It seems like for all we’re doing to automate cars, make them death-proof, moron-proof, perhaps if a company would release a generally available driving simulator it would be a great service to the general public.
    It doesn’t have to be a visual experience, but if something could permit one to drive, coach on laws, offer tips about visibility, etc., that would be worthwhile. I mean, if you bought a Volvo and you could hand over the VIN to them and they gave you a license for a year to use their software it seems like they’d keep their accident/death numbers low and it would benefit everyone. I know Ford has their super simulator as they bring it to every auto show. I don’t envision buying the fancy hardware with a rotating chair and 5 monitors, but for the cost of a good steering wheel controller (about $250) and a second monitor you could potentially have a very good home setup. Even put the super-sim thing into a dealership and let the local high school book time in it. Traffic into the sales floor, build that brand bond and people can practice driving in a risk-free environment.
    The only thing I can find is some Russian sim called City Car Driving, but the support looks pretty weak and there is very litte mention about the compatible hardware.
    Now thinking about it, the notion that we have plenty of tech to pull of inexpensive driving simulators, but we still stick kids into cars on public roads for their first time driving. I’m all about real-world practice, but how about getting some of these kids into 20+ hours of sim time THEN put them out on the road. I mean, sims are used for pilots and have been for ages. Why not for drivers?

    • 0 avatar

      Not a bad idea. Besides several flight simulators, there are train simulators, farm simulators, and I had a nuclear power plant simulator and a game that was basically a steam locomotive simulator for the Commodore 64.

      The idea of choosing any car and driving anywhere in the world like you can with Microsoft Flight Simulator is appealing. Learn the rules of the road before you go to that country; or try out various rides virtually. The fact you could develop your own content for Microsoft Flight Simulator was really awesome, the community developed thousands of planes, scenery, and other add-ons to the game. (Some folks even developed cars that you could drive in the game; though it was less than ideal.) I spent far more time flying than I did driving, and even built several virtual planes and sceneries for MSFS.

      But it would take a lot of work, and my guess is they are afraid it would not sell enough copies to break even.

  • avatar

    I guess if we’re going for old school cool points, Pole Position was the first racing game I played. We had an old Atari given to us by our uncle, and my brother and I played regularly. Then Outrun the Sega arcade game let me drive a 2-speed Ferrari Testarossa. Then Cruisin’ USA and Cruisin’ World let me play video games with my friends in the arcades. Good times. Need For Speed series was awesome, and I enjoyed playing the Test Drive series.

    But the game that hooked me to the point of addiction was Gran Turismo. The game got me even more hooked on cars than I was as a kid.

  • avatar

    anyone remember Ford Simulator 1?

  • avatar

    I spent way more time on the original Papyrus sims – Indycar and NASCAR than I ever have any game since. (And I’m in Europe, where F1 is king! Enjoyed Geoff Crammond F1GP, but not as much as the US games!)

    In the early to mid 90s these were unlike the scrolling racing games I’d played before. Loved the paint shop in NASCAR especially, created loads of car liveries.

  • avatar

    If we’re going for cool points, it was within Street Rod for DOS that I realized I could waste an inordinate amount of time playing with cars on a computer.

    Then Gran Turismo happened and it all went downhill from there.

  • avatar

    For me it was Night Driver and Pole Position on my 8 bit Atari in the early 80’s. Then TD…then nothing until ’95 when I got a PS1 and Ridge Racer, and later became hooked on Gran Turismo to this day.

  • avatar

    NSF Porsche Unleashed: This was *it*. And then both EA and Porsche walked away from it. I even try every once in a while to get it to work on a modern PC, but no dice. If you grew up during the malaise, you understood the greatness of Porsche (they were the only cars you saw with anything approaching speed).

    Other memories

    Night Driver [2600] first person driving in the 1970s (the arcade machine dated from 1975)
    Race (might be a Sears OEM name) [2600] – A game that required special controllers (like paddles that rotated. Not very much like a steering wheel, but I wouldn’t be driving anytime soon). Not very popular.

    Pole Position [atari 400/800 computer. Probably pirated from a 5200] – best 8 bit racing game ever.

    A bunch of early test drives (missed “the good one” [3] somehow). They were fun, but so unrealistic driving by keyboard wasn’t an issue.

    Need for speed 3 (loads of fun. Also odd in that the demo was great in a completely different way than the game. I had to learn to love the game on its own after being upset that it wasn’t like the demo I loved.

    GT3 and GT4 for PS2. Eventually windows annoyed me so much I turned in my status of what would eventually be called the “PC master race” (from about 1980-2010 the consoles were better platforms [but not for strategy and other games I craved], but I persevered).

    Now? I think I have a car game or two on my steam account that I’m not sure I’ve played. Too hard to connect my ancient steering wheel/pedals to current games.

  • avatar

    Pole Position – sit down arcade version. Mario Kart was great fun playing with my kids.

  • avatar

    My first “racing” game was Night Driver on the Atari 2600. Then Pole Position in the arcade, Excitebike on the NES, Test Drive on the Commodore 64, and GT on the original PlayStation.

    I just might have to dig out my C=64 this weekend.

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