TGS 2003: V.R. Virtua Racing Impressions

Sega's old polygonal racing game is getting a big frame rate boost and a budget-minded re-release in Japan.

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Sega's new line of budget-priced remakes, the Sega Ages 2500 Series, has already spawned five releases, and the company seems poised to continue the practice of giving their old games slight updates and re-releasing them on the PlayStation 2. Joining the ranks of Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe, Afterburner, and others is a remake of the arcade driving game Virtua Racing.

Virtua Racing was released pretty early on in the days of 3D gaming. The flat, untextured polygons never really ran at a terribly smooth frame rate, but considering that there wasn't really any serious competition available, it was a pretty impressive achievement. Even more impressive was that the game was later released on the Sega Genesis, and through the help of an onboard math coprocessor right inside the cartridge, it managed to do a decent job of reproducing the game's four camera angles and three tracks.

Now the game is coming to the PlayStation 2. While other games in the Sega Ages series have been done up by replacing the sprites with polygons, Virtua Racing has the benefit of already being a polygonal game. So the main difference is that the game runs smoother than it ever has before. In all four views, the game seems to run at or very close to 60 frames per second, something even the original arcade release could only dream of back in the early 90s. Beyond that, the game appears intact. All four camera views are available, including the in-car view, which shows your driver's hands working the steering wheel when you turn. Like the original version of the game, you don't toggle through the views--each viewpoint has its own button. The game lets you use either analog or digital steering, and the analog control seems to work just fine.

Sega Ages 2500 Series: V.R. Virtua Racing is currently scheduled to be released in Japan next Spring. There are currently no publicly announced plans to bring this game to any other territory.

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