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21 Features

Retro Vault: Ridge Racer, Power Stone, Soulcalibur II

Plus: Project Gotham Racing and Nintendo's E3 '96 VHS

Retro Vault is our regular weekly feature in which we dive into gaming's past and share five classic nuggets of retro nostalgia. If you want to catch up on previous Retro Vaults, check out the CVG Retro Vault archive.

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December 1994 - Ridge Racer artwork

With the launch of the PlayStation 4 less than a week away in the United States, we thought it would be appropriate to look at arguably the most important game in the original PlayStation's launch line-up.

The arcade scene was still thriving in the mid-90s and the introduction of polygonal graphics led to a new rivalry between its arcade pioneers, Sega and Namco. Both studios had their own polygonal offerings for the two most popular arcade genres, fighting and racing. For the former, Sega's Virtua Fighter went head-to-head with Namco's Tekken. But it was the latter that was even more fiercely contested.

As Sega prepared the launch of its Saturn console, it declared that it would have a near-perfect version of its own popular arcade racer Daytona USA ready for launch: a massive announcement. Seeking for a similar bombshell, Sony arranged a deal with Sega's arcade rival Namco.

The result was a similarly near-perfect port of Namco's Ridge Racer, available on PlayStation on day one. As the most visually impressive of the game, Ridge Racer had a 'premium' feel to it in arcades and its addition in the PlayStation launch line-up (alongside Namco's other big arcade game Tekken) made it clear that console newcomer Sony wasn't messing around: it knew what gamers wanted.

Sony would go on to enjoy a lengthy history with Namco, with a new Ridge Racer game featuring in every PlayStation's launch line-up: Ridge Racer on PlayStation, Ridge Racer 5 on PS2 and Ridge Racer 7 on PS3. Even Sony's two handhelds, the PSP and the Vita, had a Ridge Racer game at launch.

While the PlayStation 4 launch line-up is indeed a strong one, with a wide selection of third-party games, it also marks the first time a Ridge Racer title hasn't featured. Call us sentimental, but that just feels odd to us.

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