Moving swiftly on (but getting slower and slower as the batteries drain), racing games and the Dreamcast go hand in hand. Or should that be controller/race wheel in hand? Probably - nay, most definitely - an irrelevance when we're dealing with multiple impenetrable layers of metaphor, but the fact of the matter remains: the Dreamcast has some absolutely stonking racing titles. As I mentioned in the not-too-distant past, pretty much every genre is catered for on Sega's little beige/yellow lozenge of joy. There are arcade racers aplenty; more serious simulations; cartoony kart 'em ups (quite literally when you consider Wacky Races and Looney Tunes Space Race); and even a couple of lovely Formula 1 games if that's your particular bag of choice.
But what if you're after a link to the past (heh) as I am? What if you want to re-live those bygone days (aka last Wednesday) standing wellington-clad in a puddle and whizzing your little toy car around? What are your options other than going to Argos and y'know, just buying an actual RC car? Well, while it's not strictly true that the RC racer has completely vanished from our consoles and PC monitors - just look at Motor Storm RC and Table Top Racing on the PS Vita, the Choro Q series, and RC Mini Racers on iPad/Mac - the RC racer is not a genre that has been very prominent on the modern systems. Any by modern systems, I mean the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and their respective successors. The Dreamcast though, has no less than three of the little blighters. How do they compare to playing with the real thing? And more importantly, how do they compare to each other? Read on to find out, Mon'Amie...
This is by far the easiest of the three games to investigate, simply because there is so little to actually investigate. Toy Racer was a spin-off from Toy Commander that utilised many of the aforementioned game's assets to create an online-only, four player racer that was designed to pique interest in the Dreamcast's internet functionality. It may be a little unfair to include Toy Racer in this little list as it isn't a full blown game - playing it today is an unsatisfying experience to say the least, especially as there are only four tracks and no AI competitors in races. Naturally, back when the Dreamcast was still in the picture, Toy Racer's complement of adversaries would have comprised other human beings logged in through Dream Arena (all six billion of them) and the main premise was to beat the other humans playing on their Dreamcasts around Europe.
Originally an N64 cart, ReVolt is probably the only title many gamers will associate with RC racing. Developed and published by defunct outfit Acclaim, ReVolt was one of the N64's most highly respected racers and the inclusion of a hi-res Expansion Pak mode meant it was also one of the system's best looking games. I first played ReVolt on the Nintendo platform and remember buying the Dreamcast port simply to see if it was any better...and I have to admit that while I was sceptical as to whether there would be any improvement, I was pleasantly surprised to find a game that far surpassed it's predesessor. Not that the Dreamcast version of ReVolt is a sequel as such - it's basically the same game but with vastly improved visuals, vehicle handling and an extra environment thrown in for good measure. It's quite interesting now that I think about it - there is a lot of outcry currently about games being re-released on the PS4 and Xbox One that are simply the same games as found on the last gen systems but with a lick of graphical paint (see Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition)...yet it was going on in the Dreamcast/N64/PS1 era too, and ReVolt is a perfect example.
Another game released by a masterful development house of yesteryear, Team17's Stunt GP is the ying to ReVolt's yang. While it still (obviously) features RC cars, this title limits the races to the professional style where everything is conducted on purpose-built tracks. There is no straying off the beaten track here, my friend: even though there are multiple countries to race in, there is a definite air that you are taking part in an RC race - the track is laid out and you must race the way organisers want you to. So whereas ReVolt has you battling beneath the legs of a dinosaur fossil on the polished floors of a science museum, Stunt GP will always have you contained on a proper, asphalt or wooden track. That's not to say the tracks aren't awesome though - the twists and turns, climbs, drops and loops are a marvel to behold in Stunt GP - especially as the camera has a habit of pulling back and letting you view your aerial adventures in all their splendour. Indeed, as the name of the game suggests, Stunt GP actively encourages the player to engage in any number of ridiculous and spectacular stunts, as well as trying to win the race they may also be taking part in. Your reward for pulling off these flips and somersaults are points which can then be spent on extra parts for your vehicle - lighter chassis, better engines and battery packs, more grippy tyres etc.
The best RC racer on the Dreamcast is...
It's a tough choice, I wont deny. Toy Racer can't really compete with the big boys so let's discount that one straight away; the main event is between ReVolt and Stunt GP. Both games offer excellent visuals, cracking music and their own individual style of racing. ReVolt is more about the weaponry, while Stunt GP is more about racing skill. They both have their individual merits - ReVolt has a full track editor and a more varied array of environments, whereas Stunt GP offers vehicle upgrades aplenty and a great variety of play modes. But ultimately, like the Highlander, there can be only one.
The best RC racer on the Dreamcast is...
It's the full package - loads of tracks, loads of cars, great music and ultimately it is a lot of fun to play. Stunt GP is also a worthy title, but in this competition it finishes as runner up.
Get some ReVolt it in your Dreamcast, you will not be disappoint!