- Racing games have always been popular in the video game industry, and sci-fi racing games have become increasingly complex and diverse over time.
- Pacer, New York Race, and Jet Moto are some of the best sci-fi racing games that offer unique gameplay experiences, from combat-focused racing to vertical racing through skyscrapers.
- MegaRace, Redout, and Hydro Thunder are other notable sci-fi racing games that have their own distinct features and gameplay styles, showcasing the variety that the genre has to offer.
Racing games have always played a big role in the video game industry, and since video games are all about stretching imagination into the future, it only would make sense that sci-fi racing games also be very popular. In the beginning, these games were very basic as the technology was limited.
But as video games got more complex, the styles and systems of the vehicles being raced became crazy to satisfy gamers’ need for an adrenaline-fueled adventure. These games included everything from cars to boats and even beyond the edges of space. Here is a list of some of the best sci-fi racing games.
Pacer was a game that was originally called Formula Fusion. It follows a similar format to other sci-fi racing games that came before it, but it does put a heavy emphasis on combat. It even plays out similarly to Mario Kart, as players have to get weapons in order to use their attack systems against enemies. Although racing is the game’s primary function, it does record kills and deaths, which adds another layer to its already intense gameplay. The game did have limited playability though, so an expansion may be warranted.
New York Race
Similar to what Star Wars did before it, New York Race took a small aspect of a popular science fiction movie and made a racing game out of it. In this case, that means racing through the towering skyscrapers of New York City from the futuristic epic The Fifth Element. For fans of the movie, it’s great to play as some of the popular characters from the story as well as some of the minor roles too. It’s also notable for the fact that it races vertically, as seen in the film.
Many futuristic racing games focus on hovercars. But Jet Moto took the concept in a different direction by focusing on hoverbikes instead. The result is a very fun, wild, and crazy game that also allows players to ride over water. The feel is very similar to Wave Race, a racing game that had jet skis for the Nintendo 64.
While that game never grew into a franchise, Jet Moto was popular enough to have a series of sequels. To this day, it still has a strong fan base that would like to see the game revived.
San Francisco Rush 2049
The Rush series of games were primarily built for the arcade before being ported to consoles. While there were several successful sequels, the game eventually shifted to a futuristic setting with San Francisco Rush 2049. Unlike most games set in the future that rely on anti-gravity technology, Rush decided to keep its wheels on its cars. However, there are times it embraces its science fiction side by extending wings for extra mobility. Also, the game does a great job reinventing San Francisco streets for a futuristic look.
MegaRace is a strange game that is unique on the list. It was originally created for computers before also being released for the Sega CD. As with other quirky games released along this line, MegaRace has pre-rendered characters and courses that don’t offer as much racing control. Instead, the game focuses on destroying other racers, even acting very similar to a rail shooter. It might seem strange, but the game was popular enough to have two sequels come out. It just shows how sci-fi racing can take many forms.
Redout is another sci-fi racing game whose influences are obvious. It’s as much a homage to the sci-fi racing games that came before it as it is a revamp of the genre. It has a lot of the same intense action at hyper speeds with dangerous turns and intense competition.
It also has a lot of the same elements as its predecessors such as upgrades and racing teams. The game was enough of a success with fans to warrant a sequel that doubles its racing intensity.
It might be strange to consider a boat racing game science fiction. After all, there are boat races in real life. However, making an intense and realistic boat racing game is difficult simply because it’s such a dangerous sport. In order to spice things up, Hydro Thunder ramps up its action to an extreme and ridiculous level. Having boats jump off of giant waterfalls and traverse alien wastelands is a great way to make something that’s already pretty crazy even more absurd. Hydro Thunder is definitely worthy of a spot on the list.
Star Wars Episode I: Racer
Star Wars Episode I polarized many fans, but one of the few elements that many fans could agree on that was great was the pod racing scene. It was a fast and intense scene that put fans right in the action of Star Wars sports. So when a game based on pod racing came out, it’s no surprise that it was a big hit. Its speed of play was actually much faster than traditional racing games of the game, and it still holds up remarkably well today.
Wipeout was a series of games that dominated the sci-fi racing landscape very early on. It was one of the first releases that could show just what 3D gaming on the first PlayStation would be like. It’s similar to Nintendo’s F-Zero in that players control hovering ships that race at extreme speeds.
However, it seems as if Wipeout was geared more toward an older audience with heavy synth and techno influences for its soundtrack. The game has quite a legacy and should definitely make a strong comeback.
Even before the modern era of gaming exploded with 3D mechanics, F-Zero was pushing the envelope as to what could be possible with the medium. It took racing to a futuristic level as players controlled hovercars on extreme sci-fi courses. However, the game didn’t stop there. Each car had its own personality and drivers with enough characterization to hook players into its world. These characters made enough of an impact that some of them went on to become mascots for all of Nintendo.
Next: Best PS2 Racing Games