Back when arcades ruled the gaming world there was little else to compete with the SEGA Rally franchise. Sure we had Ridge Racer and Daytona USA fighting for the racing seat, but SEGA Rally brought the fun off-road gaming to the masses. But just how well did this port to the Dreamcast?
If you grew up in the SEGA days, when they were still manufacturing consoles, you’d be aware that arcade games was what often made their consoles worth owning, and the SEGA Dreamcast had that same concept in mind from day one. SEGA Rally 2 received a faithful port to the SEGA Dreamcast (and PC) in 1999. In fact, you could purchase SEGA Rally 2 along with your console on launch day. Everything that made it a hit in arcades featured in this game, and it came with new modes, tracks and cars.
All-in-all there are 17 tracks to drive on made up of 6 themes, namely – Desert, Mountain, Snowy, Riviera, Muddy and Isle (oh, and of course a hidden theme – none of this DLC nonsense back then). Each track comes with its own set of unique road surfaces and this is where the new mode, 10Year Championship, comes into play. When entering this mode you’ll virtually take part in 10 seasons, which is made up of 4 races in each. Before entering any race it’s up to you to choose one of 19 cars that includes the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V, Subaru Impreza WRC 98 and Toyota Corolla WRC 98. Want more cars? Complete the Arcade mode where you race against time to pass checkpoints. It’s a direct port of what you would have played in arcades.
A typical launch game
Before heading into any race, when playing the 10Year Championship, it’s important to take note of the track layout and road surface as you’ll need to tamper with the settings before diving off. The road surface is made up of Tarmac, Gravel, Dry Mud, Mud, Snow and/or Ice. Once you’ve got an estimation on the percentage of each surface type and the track layout it’s time to adjust various settings. Change up the Transmission, Gear Ratio, Front and Rear Suspension, Steering (loose or quick), Brakes (soft or hard) and, most importantly, the Tyre Type. You’ll also have the option to choose a Male or Female co-driver, though I personally found the female navigator much more soothing on the ears.
There’s just something about the handling in SEGA Rally 2 that screams ‘JOYFUL ARCADE RACING!’. The realism we see in racers today are completely missing and it’s all the better for it. Bashing into a barrier or trading paint with other cars won’t affect you too much, other than slowing you down. Sliding your car into corners is still a fantastic experience 16 years later and graphically it’s aged rather well. The shine on the back window of your car and the colourful backdrops still look decent. Seeing the dust build up on your car is also quite cool with that 1999 year in mind. The sound effects are rather terrible, but when you’re slipping and sliding around a hairpin it’s the last thing on your mind.
Watch out for the pot holes
Disappointingly the frame rate moves at 30-40 FPS, which is not ideal for a racing game, no matter the age. Though there are extra modes it still feels a little shallow when compared to other games in this day and age. Time Attack is a great addition, but other than the 10Year Championship and Arcade there’s not much that’s going to keep you coming back for more and, more disappointingly, there’s only a 2-player multiplayer mode to take advantage of the 4 controller ports on the Dreamcast. And the mode is so watered down and boring that it’s not worth playing at all.
If you’re craving for some good old arcade racing SEGA Rally 2 will not let you down, but don’t let your nostalgia take over. It’s missing elements that might have been overlooked all those years ago because of the ‘launch game’ feel to it at the time. At times it does kick up some mud in your face, but if you don’t have friends you’ll wipe it off and enjoy what’s there.