There are racing games, and then there is R4: Ridge Racer Type 4. I can barely put into words how important this game is to me, even though it’s my job. Thankfully, our Lawrence Hodge already did the hard part and summed up R4's mystique a little while back. We’ve never played the game on one of our streams before, so we’re going to make up for that today at 4 p.m. Eastern over at twitch.tv/jalopnikdotcom.
R4 is less a racing game and more of a racing movie that happens to be interactive. And while I know that doesn’t sound particularly appealing, you have to just trust me on this one. This game cultivates a motorsports world all its own, with fictional manufacturers, teams and circuits that actually mean something. They’re not just stand-ins for licenses the publisher, Namco, couldn’t obtain. Every single aspect of this universe is considered, calculated, and builds to something greater in context when it all comes together.
Or does it? I don’t know — maybe it’s just a competent arcade racer with stylish graphics for the original PlayStation, a bangin’ acid jazz soundtrack, lively drift handling and a general cutting-edge sense of audiovisual cool. Maybe that’s all R4 is, and if that’s true then it’s hardly unique; there are many other games like it. But a funny thing happened to me when I played this game for the first time around the age of six: I couldn’t let it go.
Instead I begged my parents to rent it from our local video store, over and over and over again. (It definitely would have just been cheaper if we bought it on day one.) Years later as a teen, I’d mock up UIs for how a sequel could look, and make a DeviantArt just to share it with the world, in the hopes anyone else might care. There’s no doubt in my mind: I wouldn’t be who I am today, doing what I am today, if not for R4. Safe to say, I’m not the only one for whom the game had such a profound impact.
So, please excuse me as I gush over it, though of course that’s not the only thing that’s going to happen this afternoon. As usual, I’ll be joined by my colleagues José, Andy and Steve to talk about anything and everything in Car Land, particularly the death of Dodge’s existing muscle lineup. Join us when the festivities kick off at 4 p.m. ET on our Twitch channel.