We all love racing real-world race tracks in games, but there’s just something fictional tracks can do that real tracks can’t – it can be anything a developer wants it to be. Arcade racing games are all mostly made up of fictional tracks, but we have seen some imaginative original tracks in sim racers too. Below are fictional race tracks that’ll go down in history as some of the most enjoyable tracks to race on.
Crash Team Racing – Tiger Temple (PS1)
There was once a time Naughty Dog not only made fantastic adventure games but also top class racing experiences. Crash Team Racing is, to date, still the best kart racing game you’ll find on any PlayStation platform and some would argue it’s the best kart racing game altogether (problem is that most of those never played Mario Kart – we’ll forgive them). It’s definitely one of the better kart games ever released and Tiger Temple was the one track that focused on simplicity and as a result, made it extremely competitive. Miss the shortcut or get burned by one of the statues in the temple and it could be the difference between coming first or last.
Wipeout Omega Collection / HD / Pulse – Moa Therma (PS4, PS3, PSP)
Quite easily one of the most balanced tracks ever created in a Wipeout game. Moa Therma originally appeared in Wipeout Pulse on the PSP, but it’s the leap to Wipeout HD that made it one of the most popular tracks in the history of the Wipeout series. The combination of high-speed straights, nippy corners and the last stretch with tiny hills that will make your stomach turn inside-out, has become a favourite when you play the game online in Wipeout Omega Collection. That very last speed pad on the last corner has decided many race standings in the past.
Split/Second – Airport Terminal (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
This is by far the most chaotic entry in the list. Mario Kart and Wipeout might be filled with weapon pickups, but activating a bridge, train or huge satellite dish to drop and destroy your opponents elevates it to a whole new level. There is one particular track that will forever be the one most players will remember – Airport Terminal. It’s extremely enjoyable and fun to powerslide around the corners to increase the power play meter, but should you activate the red power play, it’ll separate the boys from the men. Actually, the men are screwed too. They all perish if they are in the vicinity, especially when a plane comes tumbling down from the heavens. It’s a bad news day for all involved. It’s a joy to be the person activating that and winning because of it.
Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit – Atlantica (PC, PS1)
Back when the Need for Speed franchise was still about supercars and actual tracks you could learn (I’m so over those open-world ‘everything’ NFS games) there was a little gem named Atlantica. What made it such a unique track is that it was the perfect setting for both cars that handle well at the cost of top speed and cars with amazing top speed with cornering issues. Play it today and you’ll find that the Lamborghini Diablo SV and the Jaguar XK8 will still battle it out for supremacy over the finish line. Throw in some cops and you have a party.
Forza Motorsport 5, 6, 7 – Prague (Xbox One)
Possibly one of the most beautiful settings you’ll find in a racing game that’s more about simulation than arcade. No, Prague is by no means a fantasy city, but the track doesn’t exist. It’s as made up as it gets and it’s one of the best drives you’ll find in the Forza series. It feels majestic as you take in the breathtaking backdrops while going at top speed around one of the many graceful bends on this track. By using the rumble triggers on the Xbox One controller you can also feel when you hit the brick roads, instead of tar, and helps bring the city to life. The roads are often narrow and make for some nail-biting action. Overtake on the wrong spot and you can take out both yourself and your opponent.
Gran Turismo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – Trial Mountain (PS1, PS2, PS3)
Trial Mountain in a game of Gran Turismo is like a breakfast of bacon and eggs – they’re made for each other. Since the inception of the GT series on PS1, we have had access to one of the most beloved circuits in any simulation racing game, Trial Mountain. The corners early on can be deceiving as it leads up to the straight that is covered by the shadows of overlying trees. It’s, however, that very last chicane that’s become infamous. Hit it just right and you can catapult your car over the corner to steal first place. Unfortunately, Trial Mountain has not returned to GT Sport, with the focus being more on real-world tracks. If there is one track I hope returns, it’s Trial Mountain.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – Dragon Canyon (PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
One of the best kart racing games very few players played. Those who played it will be well aware just how special this entry is. What made Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed so unique is that the race track would change shape each and every lap. Having skills with your kart on wheels wasn’t enough to secure a victory as you had to master both water and air too. Tracks would change in real-time and on top of that you have to deal with opponents and the various weapon abilities. Dragon Canyon is easily the most impressive of the lot. I mean, where else do you get to fly alongside the dragon from Panzer Dragoon? SEGA fan service of note!
F-Zero GX – Aeropolis (GameCube)
The fastest game on this list, at just over 1500 km/h, also comes with one of the more complicated tracks. Aeropolis will have you using all your various skills to perfect it. Understanding how to use your airbrakes is crucial to getting around the hairpin followed by several speed pads that’ll boost you over the gap that lands you right in front of a 90 degree chicane. Dodge the slippery bits and mines on the straight and you’re about to start your next lap. It’s tricky, but master it and you’ll have some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
Rumble Racing – Wild Kingdom (PC, PS2)
A game that’ll take you back to an era where EA still produced fun games, even if it did not make them a truckload of money. Rumble Racing is as arcade as a racing game gets. By pressing the right shoulder button combinations you could flip your car to gain a boost on landing. Combined with weapon pickups this was great fun to play, but it’s the very last track in the game that held within it all the tricks – quite literally. Wild Kingdom is trick heaven and only those with fast enough fingers need apply. It’s one of those tracks that would have you pulling your hair out… and the next thing you’re in the lead, leaving everyone in your dust.
Mario Kart – Baby Park (GameCube, DS, Wii U, Switch)
There is no easier track to play on earth. It’s a small ‘baby’ oval, but in this little oval you’ll find chaos, hate speech and all forms of violence as you’re never safe until you cross the finish line. Jump online with a bunch of local South African gamers and you’re in for complete havoc. No one walks out without muttering at least one foul word. Baby Park destroys karts, strategies and friendships… but it’s so damn addictive.