These Are the 10 Racing Game Series That Need to Come Back

These Are the 10 Racing Game Series That Need to Come Back

The racing genre's brimming with beloved franchises that boast untapped potential. These are the ones that should be resurrected first.

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Image: Bandai Namco

Despite the excitement around recent releases like Forza Horizon 5 and Gran Turismo 7, as well as the upcoming Forza Motorsport reboot and next Need for Speed, there’s no shortage of abandoned racing game franchises that haven’t received serious attention in a decade or more. It’s tragic, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 that are ripe for a comeback, in no particular order. We’ve also rated the possibility of a revival for each entry, based somewhat in fact but mostly conjecture, hopes and dreams. Let’s get to wishing!

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MotorStorm

MotorStorm

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Image: PlayStation Studios

Evolution Studios’ chaotic off-road thrill ride was a hit on PlayStation 3 and even spawned an underrated PSP and PS2 spinoff called MotorStorm: Arctic Edge. After a trio of entries on PS3, the team went on to develop Driveclub (also great) before Sony shuttered the Cheshire-based developer. Codemasters swooped Evo up, where they gave us Onrush — think MotorStorm with a friendlier face, Overwatch-style hero elements and a focus on team-based play — as well as Dirt 5. Following Codies’ Electronic Arts acquisition and Dirt 5's middling sales, the studio is now supporting Need for Speed, though MotorStorm — and any attempt to resurrect it — ultimately sits with Sony.

Likelihood of return: 4 out of 5 | MotorStorm isn’t that old in the grand scheme of things, and it was a breadwinner throughout the PS3's lifespan. Sony surely has the first-party muscle to bring the series back with another team’s help. After all, Twisted Metal is coming back, reportedly with one of MotorStorm’s directors at the helm. Of all the franchises on this list, it stands among the best shots at a revival.

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Midnight Club

Midnight Club

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Image: Take-Two Interactive

Before a decade of massive expansions transformed Grand Theft Auto Online into a racing game, Midnight Club was Rockstar’s street-racing series with a more mature, underground vibe compared to its contemporaries (yes, even NFS Underground). The last Midnight Club was 2008's Midnight Club: Los Angeles. A new entry seemed pretty unlikely until fans noticed a job posting for a triple-A open-world racer by Take-Two studio Visual Concepts earlier this year, which got the hype machine humming again.

Likelihood of return: 3 out of 5 | Here’s the thing — that posting mentions “a major license,” which would suggest a tie-in with another brand, maybe a movie franchise or something of that nature. Besides, Rockstar has done well to make GTA what it is today: a massive, multiplayer online racing universe. While the listing inspires some enthusiasm, Take-Two doesn’t exactly need Midnight Club, so forgive me for feeling a little cooler on this one.

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Project Gotham Racing

Project Gotham Racing

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Image: Xbox Game Studios

In the days before Forza Horizon, Project Gotham Racing, developed by Bizarre Creations, was Microsoft’s preeminent accessible racing franchise and a technical showcase on the original Xbox and Xbox 360. As we learned this week courtesy GQ, Trevor Williams, the head of Horizon developer Playground Games, originally pitched the open-world racer as a PGR reboot, but the Forza team wasn’t enthusiastic about it. So we got Horizon instead. And while Horizon and PGR do share some similarities as arcade racers, they’re markedly different games to play, as anyone who’s played both will tell you.

Likelihood of return: 1 out of 5 | Xbox has Forza Horizon, the biggest racing game in the world right now, with massive commercial and critical appeal. There’d be no point.

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Sega Rally

Sega Rally

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Image: Sega

The game that inspired the original Colin McRae Rally, 1995's Sega Rally Championship endeared a generation of gamers to the Lancia Delta Integrale and Toyota Celica GT-Four. It made rallying a popular subgenre of racing games in the decade that followed. And it was rebooted out of seemingly nowhere in 2007 as Sega Rally Revo by the short-lived Sega Racing Studio. (Like so many U.K.-based racing devs, SRS was unceremoniously closed and given a new lease on life by Codemasters.) 2008's Sega Rally Online Arcade was a mostly cut-down downloadable version of that game; we haven’t seen a new one since.

Likelihood of return: 1 out of 5 | Discounting Out Run and Virtua Racing remasters, Sega’s last several new racing games released for consoles were all Sonic-branded kart racers. (All-Stars Racing Transformed was phenomenal though, to be fair.) Additionally, the challenge of securing licenses from Toyota and Stellantis makes a remaster of the first game seem less attractive from a business perspective.

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Daytona USA

Daytona USA

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Image: Sega

You could really put every Sega racing franchise on this list, so naturally Daytona USA is our next stop. To be fair, there was a new Daytona of sorts released in arcades in 2016, titled Daytona Championship USA. This, however, was a rather messily hacked-together assortment of old physics and new graphical assets, with music plucked from various entries throughout the series’ history. When announced, it was marketed arcade-exclusive, likely to appeal to arcade owners. Thus, we’ve never seen a home conversion — though perhaps that’s for the best.

Likelihood of return: 2 out of 5 | Daytona USA is said to be the highest-grossing arcade game of all time, and old cabinets can still be found everywhere from bowling alleys to Barcades. For that reason, I don’t think it’ll ever be truly gone, but the prospect of a bona fide sequel to 1998's Daytona USA 2: Battle On The Edge is not something Sega has been equipped to make for quite some time. The best we can hope for is a rerelease of that 2011 high-definition port for Xbox 360 and PS3, and that’d be better than nothing.

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Wipeout

Wipeout

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Image: PlayStation Studios

In 2017 Sony released Wipeout Omega Collection — a compilation of Wipeout HD/Fury and Wipeout 2048 for the PS4. While it was an appreciated offering, we haven’t gotten a truly new Wipeout game since the launch of the PlayStation Vita, as developer Studio Liverpool was closed a short time later. Wipeout was beloved for its combination of core racing fundamentals and technical, rewarding physics with a cutting-edge, counterculture audiovisual style that defined the ’90s. There have been no shortage of indie tributes that have cropped up in the decade since 2048 that vary from half-baked to quite good, but there’s only one Wipeout.

Likelihood of return: 3 out of 5 | As it happens, the team that is bringing back Twisted Metal for Sony, Firesprite Games, was actually started by ex-Liverpool personnel. That bodes well for Wipeout’s future, but seeing as how the last game didn’t move the needle and led to Liverpool’s closure in the first place, chances are Sony would rather keep the franchise on ice and focus Firesprite’s efforts on other projects.

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Tokyo Xtreme Racer

Tokyo Xtreme Racer

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Image: Crave Entertainment

Genki’s Tokyo Xtreme Racer series, or Shutokou Battle, set to capture the street racing scene on the city’s expressways and mountain passes from the time of the original PlayStation all the way up until Import Tuner Challenge in the early days of the 360's lifespan. There have been sporadic mobile spinoffs since, but nothing in the way of a full, console- or PC-caliber title, despite global interest in and nostalgia for 1990s JDM cars being stronger than it’s probably ever been. Now is exactly the right time for a Tokyo Xtreme Racer reboot to flourish.

Likelihood of return: 0 out of 5 | Genki supposedly is still in business, judging from its website that seems to have been updated at least once this year. But the latest news on the company’s “Game Business” page dates back to 2017 and happens to concern the discontinuation of Shutokou Battle Xtreme, a mobile game. So this one seems as dead as they come, though that’s not to say somebody else couldn’t swoop in and take a stab.

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F-Zero

F-Zero

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Image: Nintendo

Aside from possibly Mother, there’s no Nintendo franchise fans have been pining harder for a comeback than the one starring Captain Falcon. The funny thing is, news stories about the possibility are guaranteed with some degree of regularity every year or so. An infamous report that Nintendo at one time asked EA’s Criterion Games to make a new F-Zero many years ago has since been debunked, and more recently ex-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé re-confirmed what some designers at the company have been alluding to for quite some time: that Nintendo just hasn’t had a novel gameplay idea to justify bringing F-Zero back yet. The former exec’s words:

Why was F-Zero abandoned? The insight I would share is that, at least during my tenure, Nintendo developers were always experimenting with different gameplay styles, always thinking about where a unique experience could be applied back, either to an existing franchise or maybe creating a new franchise. My bet is that somewhere in the Kyoto development centers, some developer is playing around with an idea that might be applied to F-Zero. It’s never a situation, at least in my experience, where the company makes a conscious decision not to continue supporting X-Y-Z franchise. Historically it just hasn’t worked that way, not when I was there.

Likelihood of return: 3 out of 5 | F-Zero X, which originally launched on N64, was rereleased on the Switch Online service earlier this year. Good on Nintendo for throwing fans a bone, but as it wasn’t even a remaster, it doesn’t really count. On the other hand, I’m inclined to believe Reggie here — it’s been proven before that no ideas are ever truly dead within Nintendo’s walls, and I believe that one day the Is a New F-Zero Out Yet Twitter account will post something other than “No.”

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Burnout

Burnout

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Image: Electronic Arts

Criterion Games’ demolition-driven arcade racer is one of the finest franchises the genre’s ever seen, but things on the Burnout front have been eerily quiet despite constant demand for a new entry. It seemed after 2018's Burnout Paradise Remastered that the gears were turning for a full-fledged sequel, but Criterion was instead placed on the upcoming Need for Speed. That leaves Burnout in limbo, although publisher EA still clearly considers the series as one of its racing pillars, alongside everything it just inherited from Codemasters.

Likelihood of return: 4 out of 5 | Frankly I don’t know how EA has allowed Burnout to languish. The enthusiasm around Remastered, coupled with the fact EA just received a wealth of new racing dev talent via Codemasters, leads me to believe the publisher knows Burnout’s due for a serious reinvestment. The question is, with Criterion focused on NFS, which team’s taking up that challenge?

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Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer

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Image: Bandai Namco

To a very niche subset of gamers and racing fans, there’s nothing like Namco’s Ridge Racer. The series’ combination of simple-yet-satisfying drift-based handling with surprisingly deep lore remains unrivaled in the genre. After 2006's Ridge Racer 7, a pair of portable spinoffs that launched the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita and a string of mobile games that have all since been delisted, Ridge Racer is completely inactive at the moment. Rumblings about a new title in development for Switch in 2018 came and went, and even Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada has offered his own cryptic insight on the matter.

Likelihood of return: 3 out of 5 | As a Ridge Racer fan, it’s easy to get dejected at the state of things. But it’s also important to remember that people were evidently hired to work on a new installment — which means Namco really was planning to bring Ridge Racer back at some point within the last several years. Even though that effort never saw the light of day, the fact it was considered means it’s not totally out of the picture. If it almost happened once, it could happen again.

And so ends our list of racing games we’d love to see make a return. What do you think of their chances, and what franchises did we miss that also belong in this group? Let us know in the comments.

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