This is my top 10 car racing video games of all time. Take a look inside as I go through and list the favorites throughout the years and see if you agree with me. I go from the beginning with Pole Position and work my way from there. So get your racing gloves on and join me inside!
Now these aren’t really in any order. Just ignore the number next to it. A few of these a lot of you won’t even know. If I’ve missed one that you feel should be on the list? Leave a comment with what you think needs to be included!
1. Pole Position
This Formula 1 based arcade racer was released back in 1982 by Namco was awesome for its time. Featuring a full sit down cabinet, gas, brakes, and a shifter it was a lot of fun! Of course it was also frustrating as one wrong turn or try and turn a corner too fast and you spun out easily. Although the graphics and game play are somewhat of a joke today back in the day it was the height of technology. That and it was one of the first video games I remember that had bill boards advertising products like Pepsi
Take a look at the game play video below:
Originally released by SEGA back in 1992 this was one of the first “virtual reality” racers out. The one I played was a “Twin Cabinet” setup where the two games were linked. So not only did you have to compete against the other cars but a live opponent as well! The graphics were pretty horrid and the sound effects got on your nerves after a bit but being able to compete with the guy next to you made the game a lot of fun!
There were ports of the game made for the SEGA Genesis, Saturn, and PlayStation 2. But back then the graphics and gameplay were always better on the original arcade version.
You can check out the gameplay on Vimeo here.
Source: Wikipedia – Virtua Racer
First released by NAMCO in 1993 it was one of the first “realistic” driving experiences. You could select automatic or manual, and you raced against 11 other cars. It was then released for the PlayStation back in 1995. It was the first racing game I remember to give you not only a great driving experience but some awesome music while driving! It also brought some great tracks and environments to the experience. And the fact you could sort of drift your car around corners provided hours of fun behind the wheel!
It has since been ported to numerous systems from the PlayStation, PS3, to the PlayStation VITA as well.
I remember the original Arcade version of Out Run when it was first released back in 1986. The ability to pick different audio tracks through the “radio” and having to decide on the different routes to take, and weaving in and out of traffic while racing made it great. That and you got to race a Ferrari Testarossa helped it. But it wasn’t until I played Out Run 2 was I hooked. The ability to drive different Ferrari’s as well as the ability to drift around corners made the game for me. That and by the time it was released the graphics had improved a LOT by now in 2004 when it was released.
There were numerous ports of the game from everything to the Gameboy to the Xbox. But still nothing could compare to the original sit down arcade cabinets with the sounds of the car and music blaring in your ears.
Take a look at the original Out Run game play below:
5. Mario Kart
When this game was released for the SNES back in 1992 they didn’t know they were going to change racing games forever onward. They ended up combining a great Nintendo Super Mario Bros. franchise, racing elements, then added things like turtle shells, banana peels, bombs, and lightning to knock your opponent off the track. With 4 – player split screen action this turned into a huge hit.
This series has grown throughout the years and has been on every Nintendo Console all the way up to the WiiU
Take a look at the YouTube E3 Trailer for Mario Kart 8 for the WiiU below:
Source: Wikipedia – Mario Kart
This wasn’t the first Drag Racing game out and not to be confused with the Burnout series. Released in 1998 by Bethesda it was back in the days of 3dfx Voodoo graphics and Sound Blaster Live! sound cards lol! This PC only game introduced players to the quarter mile and the thrills of drag racing. You had over 60 cars to choose from, different tracks, and the ability to tweak just about anything on the car to help improve your time slips down the track. For me it is still one of the best. Although the physics weren’t perfect. It was still a lot of fun!
If you wanted to play something similar? You would need to find a copy of Need for Speed: Pro Street… which wasn’t quite the same unfortunately.
Source: Elite Software
7. Need for Speed Series
Originally released by Electronic Arts back in 1992 for consoles like the original PlayStation. Need for Speed was the game that brought arcade racing to the console and made it work. Although it wasn’t the first – it was to me anyways the one that made me go “OK, this will work”. It had all the elements of Out Run, great cars, tracks, traffic, and you had to outrun the cops. As the worlds improved, so did the cars and game physics. Not to mention you could drive cars like the Mercedes Benz, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Bugatti Veyron, and many more like you stole them! I liked it also when they introduced classic muscle cars, customization, and upgrades in later versions of the game too. Though some resembled even worse versions of the Fast and the Furious movies like Need for Speed: Underground. There is even an online version of the game which you can play for free!
This game has gone through so many changes throughout the years these are some of my favorites:
- Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted
- Need for Speed: Shift
Take a look at the YouTube video below as this guy goes through the entire series. Make sure to subscribe to his channel!
Gran Turismo was originally released for the PlayStation back in 1997. Created by Polyphony Digital it is designed to be a ‘true driving simulator’. With its huge licensing of cars, physics, attention to detail when it comes to graphics, and the ability to tweak your car to help you do better on the track make it one of the best out there. With each iteration of the series the graphics kept improving and the racing became more believable when behind the virtual wheel. Although there are different modes – when you played the full blown simulator it is very unforgiving.
Now in its 6th version of the series it is looking even more gorgeous than before. Take a look at the E3 trailer below for the upcoming PlayStation 4!
9. Forza Motorsport Series
Forza Mostorsports is the answer to Gran Turismo for the Xbox 360. This game first released in 2005 by Microsoft Games brought a realistic racing game to the console. With an emphasis on realism Forza 4 offered over 500 cars as you competed on close circuit tracks. If you don’t own a PlayStation this game is at the very least equal to the Gran Turismo series and earns a spot on this list!
Forza 5 which is being released with the Xbox One is looking even better. Now with improved environments, physics, and online multi player this is looking to be one awesome game! Take a look at the E3 Gameplay Trailer for Forza 5 below:
Source: Wikipedia Forza Motorsport
RockStar games introduced this game back in 2000 for the PlayStation II. Touted as “The Future of Illegal Street Racing”. At first I blew it off as not a worthy racer. It wasn’t until I got to play Midnight Racing II did I understand its appeal. This arcade racer takes you through major cities from across the globe. With the ability to upgrade your car (or motorcycle) and some really good racing. This series is one that shouldn’t be missed! Although there isn’t another game being designed you should go back and play this series. You will definitely enjoy them like I did.
Take a look at the PC Trailer for Midnight Club II (PC) Below:
Actually… I didn’t want to re-title it to “Top 13” so.. here are the honorable mentions!
Created by Nadeo originally back in 2003. I never had the chance to play the original. A friend of mine turned me on to Trackmania II at a LAN party and I was hooked. For me its like racing inside of a Hot Wheels track. The only limit is the imagination of the track designers. You get to play locally, online, or play LAN with other PC’s. This game is insane how much fun it is! I’m sure you can still find the game on Steam cheap!
Take a look at the YouTube video below to see what I’m talking about:
This is a Rally racing game I just happened to come across one day. Released in 2006 for the U.S. and created by Techland. Since I enjoy Rally racing games I figured “what the hell” and gave it a shot. This game is on par with the Dirt series in terms of graphics and game play. But this is a dedicated Rally game and doesn’t include the other game modes that DIRT has.
Featuring 20 cars and over 60 different maps. It has incredible gaming physics, damage, and sounds you felt like you were behind the wheel. As the game progressed you were moved into faster and faster cars and the difficulty increased after each race. It was a lot of fun playing this game having to time your corners through dirt, sand, snow, and ice!
Take a look at the official trailer for Xpand Rally:
Source: Wikipedia Xpand Rally
For me this was one of those games where at first you think that the game is going to be complete garbage. Then you play it. Even though it was an original PlayStation game it was probably the most fun I could imagine driving in a Porsche Boxter! Although the car choices were pretty simplistic the game play has some of the best snow and ice racing I’ve come across in a video game. With a great overall feel while driving if you used the Manual and the Hand Brake – you could pitch the car into controlled power slides around corners easily.
And the best part of this game? Knocking your opponent off the road! This game had some great physics for its time and replay value due to the multi player aspect meant hours of fun.
Take a look at the crazy graphics and gameplay below:
Didn’t See Your Game On the List?
What would you have added to the list? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on what needs to be added or removed!