REALLY RETRO: WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW

Driving games are everywhere in arcades. Outrun in the 80s, Sega Rally Championship in the 90s and Daytona in every single arcade that ever existed. I thought I could drive a manual because of Daytona (I couldn’t, and still can’t). And maybe I couldn’t handle driving 300kms an hour (I only have a Toyota Yaris). Forget reality; driving games make me feel that anything is possible.

World Rally Championship is different. It has a wheel, but it is upright. An upright driving game? I’m supposed to stand like a sucker?

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So, is it any good?

YES

World Rally Championship is nothing like Daytona. And that’s what makes it great.

Made in 1993 by Gaelco, World Rally Championship is a simple game at its core. Drive around a circuit, beat the specified time goal and let your coins last a little longer by progressing to the next track.

There’s a button to accelerate. There might be a brake button – if so I don’t use it. And there’s a steering wheel.

Er, is that it?

World Rally Championship - Screen

Like most games that rely on credits to earn money, it is all about the gameplay. The first thing you notice when playing this game is that the car moves FAST. Like, really fast. You feel as though the car will fall off the screen before every corner. And the cornering is really satisfying. Turn the steering wheel (or move the joystick) and hold it for as long as the corner lasts, making sure to avoid the obstacles along the way. It is highly reminiscent of Sega Rally Championship with the cornering system flagging what is coming up. I think it works much better in this game, though.

It is really hard to put into words how tactile the cornering feels as you launch into a perfect powerslide around a hairpin turn with the wheels screeching and the engine purring.

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Unlike every single other driving game ever invented IT IS ONLY ONE PLAYER. And I still said it was good? Yeah, so the gameplay is unreal, but would be so much better against someone. The goal is to beat the clock in order to make your coins last. I liked the challenge of continuous improvement and adored the feel of the game, but it’s not much fun with others around.

You can see that the game looks like a standard early 90s game – big, fuzzy sprites with static people dotting the course by way of a background. It works. The sound is adequate; not bad for its time, relying on the effects of the powerslides and engine to mitigate the lack of soundtrack.

You’ve played the big driving games – it is time to give the underdog a try. Put in some coins and see how far you can stretch your credit.

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