Racing Games Are The Devil
One of video games’ most disgusting, foul, blood curdling secrets is out! The sneaky bastards thought they could hide it, but I have unearthed the horrible truth – all racing games are evil! I have it on good authority (crazy old lady next door) that they once made an unholy demon blood oath written in C++, high above a puss-filled phallic volcano of terror, deep underground, where only the most wretched of creatures dwell. Don’t believe me? Then someone please explain to me how on sweet baby Jesus’ earth have racers been one of the longest surviving video game staples to go unchanged, while all around it other genres have faded into obscurity or evolved naturally; like platformers to action-adventures, or turn based RPG’s to… well pretty much everything.
Like many of us I was blinded to the truth from an early age. I spent years playing seminal titles like Micro Machines, Road Rash and Super Monaco GP. The first two games besotted me with mirth and amusement as their unique attributes drew me in like some kind of middle aged woman to a pair of belly button height jeans. The latter however was my first inkling as to just how evil and underhanded racing games could be.
Designed to reel in young boys and their fathers alike, Super Monaco GP lured you in with its teasing menu screen, and a scantily clad golden beauty urging you to start playing with your very own Grand Prix. This actually led to you being forced to drive ten hundred thousand million laps around boring courses through an entire Grand Prix season with no bloody saves. In fact the only good thing about this game was at the end of the race you could drive into the flagman and watch him fly off into the sunset still waving his flag like there was no tomorrow.
A few years later more animated titles like Mario Kart, Street Racer and Super Skidmarks slowly enticed me back into thinking racing games were not all that bad. And then, at the very cusp of the end of the 16-bit era and introduction of the 3D age, Sega decided to lead the forefront with almost tantalizingly dull Virtua Racing. Boasting four view points of “stunning polygon graphics” and Sega’s unique 3D SVP chip (thus boosting the price up of each cartridge up to silly amounts), the game was the realization of arcade hits crossing over into the living room. Sadly this also meant the living room was now the home of broken dreams, suffering from all the standard arcade mod cons. Goodbye to having more than three tracks per title, hello to hyper annoying timed stages, poor rubber-banding and difficulty settings designed to piss away your hard earned pocket money.
I pulled away from racing games for a good few years, instead warmly nestling my face into the bosom of Final Fantasy and GTA until my friend showed me some game called Gran Turismo. Its original ‘career’ mode caught my eye for a while, especially as soon as I found out you could buy a cheap used Mitsubishi 1992 GTO twin turbo and make it pretty much the highest spec car in the game. Then, as with every other racing game that came before it, something purely evil happened, it had licences.
Polyphony Digital somehow decided that most 11-20 year olds (bare in mind the ‘average’ gamer age was not 35 years old back then) needed to take driving tests to unlock further parts of the game. Can we please take a step back and understand what I just wrote down; idiot twelve year old Ryan had to complete a driving test in order to progress, otherwise he would be forever trapped in limbo going round and around the same tracks forever. Call me crazy but I don’t find regimented examining that much fun; its fine to hide behind ‘tutorials’ but as a youngster it wasn’t the best way to capture my attention. In fact it was possibly the best way to turn me off a game.
At that point of my gaming life I was done; a few goes of Test Drive here and there, perhaps the odd race on Star Wars Podracer throughout the years but sadly nothing ever quite tickled my o-ring the way the original Micro Machines did. Alas, like a mighty hawk, my years of abstinence from racing games has caused me to see many variations and adaptions within the genre. From a huge onus on hyper realism ala Forza to absolute crash-breaking carnage in Burnout, chav-tasic open world street racing in the guise of Need for Speed to the Mario Kart inspired Blur – each game has tried to bring its own tricks and tools the table whilst improving the genre’s standard preferences, but sadly for all the black magics that are ‘rewinds’ or magnetic racing lines I still find it really hard to even want to play a racing game.
Perhaps the biggest proponent to Satan’s evil racing connection is the implementation of playing online. I have no doubt racing games are responsible for 98% of Boot’s glasses sales between 1994 and 2001 by cruelly making four children stare at a quarter of a 28inch non-HD TV, I also think by singularly allowing people to constantly measure their own skill online against a multitude of people at any one time is more addictive and egotistically damaging then heroin. The people who are good at these games – and I mean really good – remind me of incessant nut-jobs with a rather scary obsessive compulsive disorder. Online competition is their sexual Hellraiser-style torture, and crazy mental pain is their fetish.
I know from the above that you may think I’ve always had a bit of a vendetta against racing titles, but you have to understand that is not entirely the case. Road Rash was one of the first games I ever actively asked my parents to buy for me and I still have fond memories to this day. In truth my realization of just how malevolent the genre is has been a recent one; in fact it was epitomized and concluded whilst playing DiRT Showdown… and no it wasn’t that Codemasters still insist on having that twat faced goon Christian Stevenson shouting moronic one liners at you.
What I hate about racers was epitomized in the game’s first ’8 ball’ challenge. In this race I was piped to the post of first place by half a car’s length no less then three times in a row by the game’s arsehole controlled AI. Subsequently I then had to restart the race a further ten times as I kept getting trapped or span out on the first corner.
To put it plainly the moment racing games become intense, or the second I realize I will have to memorise an entire track and learn how to take every corner perfectly I just stop having fun. It makes it feel like more of a job than a ‘game’. I know some of the Satan-worshipping mind controlled racing fans will argue that this is all part of the game or say that I am just rubbish; hell I know some of you are so deluded you may actually enjoy that part of the genre, but in all honesty if you are not having ‘fun’ then why play a ‘game’?