What’s Your Favorite Arcade Racing Game From Your Childhood?
Where did all the good arcade games go?
There was a time, long before the modern gaming console powerhouses of today, when arcade machines had real value. They provided an experience that you couldn’t get at home—and all for just a few quarters at a time. Though they’ve fallen aggressively out of vogue, there are some greats to remember, especially in the racing genre.
For me, it all starts and ends with two games. At home, I played Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. At the arcade, it was all about the Sega Ferrari F355 Challenge game. Some of you might remember this with great fondness, like The Drive's Managing Editor Jerry Perez. This bundle of joy wasn’t just good. It was the best.
Housed in a massive red box, the best versions of the F355 Challenge arcade cabinet had three screens, three pedals, and a proper manual H-pattern shifter. This is pretty standard stuff for home racing simulators in 2022, but it was downright impossible in 2000 when Sega unveiled it at E3. The game is a product of the famous Yu Suzuki, who headed up Sega’s arcade division for 18 years.
His focus on the game was having the most accurate simulation possible in close partnership with Ferrari. It innovated things modern sim racers take for granted while using cutting-edge force feedback and a fairly realistic handling model. Playing it today would make it feel rudimentary, but this stuff was incredible even 15 years ago. And it still offers a bangin’ stereo that most sim rigs don’t have, flooding the cabinet with the sounds of F355.
The game featured four tracks, most of them in Japan. With Suzuka Circuit, Monza, Long Beach, the oval at Twin Ring Motegi, and Sportsland Sugo, there wasn’t much variety but the curation was good. I remember taking yearly family trips, pleading with my dad to take me to an arcade, and hoping that the big red arcade machine would be there. When it was, I’d dutifully pop my coins in, pick Suzuka, and go until my parents had no more spare change. What a pure time to be alive.
What about you? What’s your favorite arcade game? There are lots to love out there, and don't forget about OutRun.