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Namco's flagship racing series makes its debut on a Nintendo platform courtesy of Nintendo Software Technology Corporation, the company's first game for the 64-bit system. While Namco might not have had a part in the development of this cartridge, fans of the series will be able to recognize many of the same features that have made Ridge Racer one of the most popular franchises of the genre.
The most notable feature is its Arcade-style approach rather than that of a traditional driving simulation. Speed and power-sliding are emphasized above all other areas, and players will be able to acquire up to 25 cars with decals and names based on Namco's classic coin-ops of the 1980s. Fans can also expect details such as helicopters or planes flying overhead, motion blur on the taillights and instant replays after every race.
A total of four modes are available to single-player racers: Quick Play, Grand Prix, Car Attack and Time Attack. Quick Play involves jumping in against a field of 11 computer-controlled drivers. The object is to finish first as you race for three laps. Grand Prix, the heart of the game, involves trying to place first on each of the three tracks making up a stage. By winning all three tracks, you'll advance to the next stage and resume competition on a more challenging level. Car Attack allows you to race one-on-one against a computer driver for the right to add its car to your garage, while Time Attack allows you the opportunity to shatter your previous lap records on your choice of courses.
There are three course environments in Ridge Racer 64: Ridge Racer, Revolution and Renegade. The tracks that make up Ridge Racer draw from the original game's downtown city, mountainous tunnels and tranquil beaches. The tracks from Revolution come from those found in Ridge Racer Revolution, which means you'll be speeding through the Northwest as you witness twisting roads, evergreens and both canyons and valleys. The Renegade environment is one that is unique to this game. Players will compete in the arid climate of the Southwest as they race across desert, gulches and tunnels on their way to the finish line.
Each car is individually rated in acceleration, speed, handling and grip, and players are free to customize their vehicle's transmission (automatic or manual) and color before the race begins. While only four cars are available at the start of the game, more can be earned by winning against the computer in the Car Attack mode. Unlocking these cars will allow you access to higher engine classes, which means you'll be able to drive vehicles with higher top speeds.
In a first for the series, Ridge Racer 64 supports up to four players on a single screen. Three modes are available for multi-play: Battle Mode, Stage Mode and Team Mode. Battle Mode is a straightforward race that has each player trying to place first, while Stage Mode involves competing in a series of three races with points awarded for the top three finishes. The driver with the most points at the end of the stage is considered the winner. Team Mode is structured the same as Stage Mode, but the combined points of two players (computer or human) forming a team determines the winner.
Ridge Racer 64 supports the Rumble Pak accessory for vibration feedback and features three save files directly on the cartridge. Players can enter in their names and keep track of their best lap and course records, not to mention their unlocked cars. Options can also be saved along with these records, and players have the ability to choose from four controller configurations, two race settings (Drift Mode or Collision Mode) and multiple display and audio settings. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide