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Virtua Racing Deluxe (Sega 32X) artwork

Virtua Racing Deluxe (Sega 32X) review

"Deluxe Edition of a somewhat fun if bland racer."

Back in the mid-90s, I had rented this game from my local blockbuster for the Sega Genesis. I remember enjoying it and thinking it was pretty fun, but I never saw it again after that first rental. A year or so after that I finally got a Sega Saturn and played Daytona USA, that game forever changing my expectations for racing games. Shortly after receiving a Saturn I found that Virtua Racing was on it as well and decided to play it again, I also remember enjoying that version of the game and again, I never was able to find it afterwards. I had pretty rotten luck with finding the games I actually wanted on Saturn during its cycle here in the U.S.

Looking back, I've always liked Virtua Racing pretty well, or I thought so anyway. Many years later I bought my own 32X add on for my Genesis so I could finally play all those 32X games I always wanted to try out, then I found out Virtua Racing Deluxe was on it and it was the best port available. But there are also versions of this game on Sega AGES collection which is usually a set of games only released in Japan on the PS2 or Saturn where it's literally the Arcade version of the game a spruced up remake, and there's a version of this game on the Sega Classics Collection for PS2 which I've not played. So I'm playing the best Sega console port available, picking it up for nostalgia and to see how the game has held up over the years… results were kinda mixed.

Virtua RACING!!!

The game starts out with a neat attract mode (basically a demo to attract players to play an Arcade game) and you hit start and the game yells at you with “VIRTUA RACING!!!” in a hilarious digitized voice. The guy sounds really angry and he's obviously Japanese because it sounds strange, but I always loved that in Sega games. The menu pops up and you're greeted with your game modes. Virtua Racing, Time Attack, 2 Player, Records and Options, Records and Options are exactly what you think; something to show your lap times and stuff and adjust your settings, but this game is so simple I don't see much point in adjusting anything. Unfortunately the Records function is worthless because when you turn the game off it doesn't save anything. I'm not sure if the game ever had a save function and mine is just burned out or not though.

Time Attack is Time Attack, there's no racing against your ghost though to see if you can beat it which is kind of disappointing but that feature may not have existed in this game's time yet. I do know it was on Sega Rally on Saturn. The other two modes is where most of your gameplay will probably take place, Virtua Racing mode is basically you picking one of three cars, two are added in because this is Virtua Racing Deluxe! You have your Formula 1 Car from the arcade game, a Stock Car which handles suspiciously like the Hornet from Daytona USA, and a Prototype car and I have no clue what it's supposed to be. Each car handles differently and has a different speed it goes at, you could be awful at driving the Formula 1 car but you can drive the Stock Car great, which is my case.

You pick Automatic or Manual Transmission and go to pick your course. The three from the arcade are present Big Forest, Bay Bridge, and Acropolis, but on top of that they added two more for the 32X version, Highland and Sand Park. I actually appreciate that Sega at least went the extra mile to add content to the 32X port of their game to make it different enough from previous versions. If only they did that more people may not have been so dismissive of the 32X back during it's time in the market.


Now as for the gameplay, it's good. I can't say whether or not it's exactly like the Arcade in terms of handling or anything because I've never been able to play a machine for this game. There are some nagging issues that I don't like about it though. For example hitting walls causes some kind of strange gravitational effect causing your car to slowly slide away from the wall, and if you hit a wall directly while going slow like if you're trying to turn yourself around or when you lose control the game just automatically makes you face forward again. Kind of a wet blanket on things when you're playing two player mode and just want to have a little fun. All that aside there aren't any other issues with gameplay other than the fact that maybe it's a bit bare bones but hey, it's an Arcade game.

All the tracks are designed well and are easy to get a grasp on with varying levels of difficulty, and all the cars handle differently. The controls are simple, B accelerates, A Brakes and UP and DOWN on the D-Pad shift down and up respectively. If you have the 6 Button controller you can use all the other buttons to change your view during gameplay, which is pretty neat. I actually don't think a lot of racing games if any had this feature back then so this is actually an innovation this game brought forward.

One really disappointing part of this game is that when you play two player with a friend, it's just you and that friend racing. There are no AI racers and that kind of sucks. It makes things pretty dull when it's just you and one other guy on a race track. Why couldn't there be AI racers in two player? It can't be a technical limitation, the game's performance doesn't suffer any when you're in this mode.

Origami and Rough Sound Samples

In the audiovisual department, this game is kind of rough. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect a whole lot from the 32X graphics wise, it is most definitely better than the Genesis counterpart but playing this game you'll notice some things for sure. The biggest detriment to this game is the poor draw distance. As you're driving you can literally see more of the track just appear out of thin air, but it's not something that makes the game unplayable or anything. However, if you're in the cockpit view you're visibility is going to suffer a lot. The game actually is almost unplayable when using this view and I wouldn't recommend it unless you want to get angry or have a few laughs.

On the other hand, while I didn't expect too much out of the 32X in retrospect the system did have some 3D power to it. I've seen some pretty impressive looking tech demos showing the capabilities of the system on Youtube, heck games like Metal Head (which is an AWFUL game) and Darkxide show some pretty decent texture work and light sourcing. Surely they could've gotten more graphically out of this port. Instead for the most part, it's just a slightly better looking version of the Genesis game but the framerate is a whole lot better. But Virtua Racing has that early 3D game look to it where it's not in the terrible part of town. Everything vaguely resembles the look of origami and it's actually kind of charming.

The other issue with this game is sound. Sound effects are all over the place, some are really great sounding, like when a car passes you up you can hear that V10 Engine whine past you and it's very clear sounding. Tire skids are also present and sound very clear. Crashes are underwhelming but it sounds like you crashed at least. The sound that will grate on your nerves a lot though is the engine sound. It's an unusually high pitched noise and what's weird is it sounds like there's a sampling issue going on because you'll hear some kind of weird feedback or something in the background when you're going top speed with the Formula 1 or Prototype car. The Stock Car's engine is a little more tolerable and subdued in comparison.

There's some digitized voice work as I mentioned before, and it's pretty funny and harmless for the most part. My personal favorite is “Fastest Rap” when you get your fastest lap time down. The music in this game doesn't sound that great. It sounds kind of distorted and as if, again, it was sampled poorly. The original Virtua Racing didn't have a whole lot going for it in terms of music but they were quick catchy tunes, on the 32X version of the game they're very diluted sounding. It may have been Sega just couldn't afford to have music and sound samples with more fidelity while pushing all these 3D polygons and stuff on this little cart. This game in a lot of ways shows a glaring weakness in the 32X's design.

Final Lap!

I admit, this game doesn't have whole lot going for it. It's simple but somewhat unremarkable in terms of design. That's fine, it's not bad, just not terribly interesting either. It's really simple arcade style racing with not much personality. You could do Time Attacks but the game doesn't save anything so it's pointless.

Two Player mode is kind of fun but it lacks AI controlled racers so you may get bored of it fast. Playing the main game is just picking tracks and trying to do your best, there's no real reward for winning 1st place. There's nothing to unlock so there's not a whole lot the game is offering for you to come back or keep it in your 32X. There's a way to play on all of the available tracks in reverse but that's not really that big of a deal, it offers a little bit of replayability but not enough.

All in all the 32X Port of Virtua Racing is decent. It does everything correctly for the most part but is underwhelming in some areas. I can say that it's probably the best racing game for the system but that's not saying much at all is it? To think that Sega was originally considering porting Daytona USA and Sega Rally Championship to the 32X… yeesh, that would've been a disaster. The advantage of porting a game like Virtua Racing though, is that the original arcade game was a very simplistic and fun racer with impressive 3D graphics in 1992. There really was no way they could disappoint putting that out if it can't completely match up to the arcade. But if they tried that with Daytona or Sega Rally, results would've been awful.

+ This is a close port of the arcade version, gameplay remains intact as far as I can tell.
+ The gameplay is fast and consistent.
+ This is probably the racer on the 32X.

- The game lacks personality. It's nothing at all like Daytona USA, Sega Rally or even older games like Super Hang-On or OutRun.
- Two player mode is kind of a wasteland, you'll do a few races and will want to pop something in that has other AI racers in it.
- Graphically, and Sound department wise this game is rather disappointing even with the funny digitized voices.
- Time Attack mode is essentially broken. Either my save function doesn't work or it never had one to begin with.


zork86's avatar
Community review by zork86 (July 26, 2015)

Sometimes, Zork reviews something other than Resident Evil games. And when he does, he gets the hose again.

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