Retro Review: Sega Rally Championship
Sega Rally Championship
Platform: Sega Saturn
Sega are responsible for some of the best racing games ever made! Outrun and Daytona USA are two examples of racing games that are beloved by fans. I’ve spoken to people who say that they can remember every inch of the tracks and know these games so well that they could play them with their eyes closed. For my money Sega Rally Championship also deserves to be spoken about with such reverence.
I first got behind the wheel of Sega Rally in the arcade. Like Outrun and Daytona USA, it had an amazing arcade cab which you sat in. Immersing yourself in the hugely impressive set up made you feel like you were actually zooming around hairpin corners and overtaking other racers for real and not just playing a video game.
I remember being completely blown away by Sega Rally when I brought it home for the Sega Saturn. It was an absolutely stunning game and made me feel very happy and proud to be a Saturn owner. So, does the game still hold up 21 years after its original release? Let’s find out.
The first thing to impress me is when you press the start button on the controller. The car engine springs to life and starts furiously revving. What a fantastic way to quite literally get your motor running!
There are a few options to choose from including arcade, time attack and two player battle. Arcade is racing on all three courses against fourteen other cars. You start each race in the position that you finished the previous one, so it feels like a real battle to win each race and finish as high in the leaderboard as you possibly can. Time attack gives you the opportunity to practice and challenge yourself to get better times. There are also ghosts available which can be set up to see if you are improving or getting worse. Two player battle gives you and a friend the chance to see who is the better driver with a nice split screen race mode.
There are initially two cars to select with the Lancia Delta and Toyota Celica being available. You can change the car settings including manual or automatic transmission, handling, tires, front and rear suspension and blow off valve whatever the hell that is. If you manage to come first on the bonus Lakeside track you can unlock the fabled Lancia Stratos. Or if you’re lazy like me you can enter the code X Y Z Y X on the mode select screen and hey presto you have a new car to drive!
There are initially three courses to race around with desert, (easy) mountain, (medium) and forest (hard). You can unlock the Lakeside race course but you have to finish first in the championship before that happens.
The most important things with any good driving game are the handling of the cars and the sense of speed and I’m happy to say that Sega Rally is still fantastic at both. As you speed around the track your co-driver is barking instructions at you to make sure you don’t go head first into a ditch. There is a real feeling of weight to the cars as you drift around corners and jump over bumps in the road. It feels fantastic when you make a perfect corner or over take another car.
The visuals have aged and there are some graphical glitches but generally speaking they are very good. The music throughout is wonderful with lots of guitar and bass slapping. The speech and sound effects are also fantastic with a highlight being someone singing the famous “GAME OVER YEAH” jingle.
Although the game maybe a little light on options you get what feels like a perfect home version of the wonderful arcade. Sega Rally has influenced so many games in the racing genre and it deserves a huge amount of credit and recognition.
Graphics – Sega Rally still looks good even with there being some graphical glitches however, this doesn’t take away from the experience as you race around the tracks. 7
Sound – The soundtrack is absolutely superb as is the speech and sound of your co-driver as he guides you during the race. 8
Playability – Sega Rally is a really great racing game and the Sega Saturn version is a fantastic port of the arcade classic. 8
Re-Playability – This game is 21 years old and it is just as fun to play as it was when I first played it in the arcade and at home all those years ago. 8
Overall – Although there aren’t many options, cars and tracks, Sega Rally remains one of my favourite racing games of all time. There are more technically advanced racers out there but you can’t deny the influence that this game had on the racing genre. Highly recommended! 8