I’m not a huge fan of racing games generally, but back in the day there was one game that I absolutely loved. It was called Fatal Racing (Americans might remember it as Whiplash) and it was just epic.
I remember the first time I played it, I was like speeding around the first track thinking “oh okay. It’s nothing special except that you can try to smack the other cars to death.” Then the second track came along, and it was starting to get crazy with lots of dips, banks and uneven terrain, and I was like “wow this is pretty gnarly!” Bear in mind, that this was the 90’s and most racing games at the time had pretty much flat tracks.
Then came a track called the Tsunami Twister, and racing games would never be the same again! Basically, you would hit an angled ramp, fly over a gap and then barrel roll 360 degrees in the air before landing on the other side. I’ve never even imagined that kind of racing game up until this.
Later on, there were tracks with loop to loops, corkscrews, and lots of gaps and jumps to knock rivals off. And if I thought the default tracks were crazy, then I was totally unprepared when I completed the game the first time… and unlocked a whole new set of tracks. These new tracks were like extreme versions of the original tracks, with double corkscrews, and an inverted Tsunami Twister.
Check out the Tsunami Twister at 1:40
The game had a cars from different teams, and each team’s cars would not only have different stats, but their AI behaved noticeable differently from one another. Cars from certain teams would aggressively try to run you off the track, while others would concentrate on winning races. This went well with the gameplay, as there were two basic ways of winning a race: coming in first, or making sure that you were the only one who could finish the race. In a regular racing game, winning by destroying all the cars might be a rarity, but with all the crazy track designs (and the heavy damage you receive from falling over the edge of the track) it was entirely possible to do so in this game.
Another thing that was so awesome about this game was the ability to play splitscreen multiplayer. After all, this was before the Internet, so multiplayer was usually reserved for complicated null-modem cable setups and LAN (though we could never figure out the network play). But since you only needed four keys each (left/right/accelerate/brake), you and a friend can play off the same keyboard. And it was fun. You could play in the same team and block for each other, or try to destroy each other, or play in the same team but still try to destroy one another. I can only imagine that with more players it would be infinitely more awesome.
Oh, and there was a tournament mode so you and your friends can play a full tournament and rack up points. I can think of much worse ways to spend an afternoon!
One last thing: the soundtrack was pretty catchy too. You can listen to the music over at KH Insider. Now if I can only figure out a way to play this game again…