Virtua Racing

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a game by Sega
Genre: Racing
Platform: Sega GenesisGenesis
Editor Rating: 8.3/10, based on 7 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Racing Games
Virtua Racing
Virtua Racing
Virtua Racing
Virtua Racing

Fasten your seat belts, racing fans, and get ready for the dawn of a new era in racing games. Sega Sports' eagerly awaited Virtua Racing finally roars onto the Genesis, bringing with it the most advanced technology ever found in a 16-bit racing game. If you love the arcade classic, if you love auto racing, if you love high-octane video game thrills, then you'll love VR.

Go, Speed Racer, Go!

The best thing about VR isn't what's new, it's what you'll recognize from the arcade game. As in the coin-op version, you drive a large polygon-based Formula One racer across three twisting tracks. The Genesis tracks are virtually identical to the arcade tracks and have the same polygon-based features: the orange span of the Bay Bridge, the carnival backdrop, the steep cliffs rising up alongside the courses, and the seaside views of the Acropolis track. Like the arcade game, the home version gives you four views -- high aerial, low aerial, behind-the-racer, and cockpit -- and the ability to switch those views instantly.

Also familiar is VR's decidedly nonstrategic approach to racing. Unlike other 16-bit games that enable you to customize every aspect of your car, here the limited options take nearly all thinking out of the game. You have just one automotive decision -- Manual or Automatic. Likewise, you have only a few game play options -- choose a track, set a Handicap in the two-player Vs. game, and adjust the skill level of your computer opponents in the one-player game.


  • Experienced drivers should set their cars to Manual and practice shifting through all seven gears.
  • Follow the skid marks ahead of you for guidance. They'll usually show you the fastest racing line.
  • Beginners in the two-player game should set their transmissions for Automatic and their Handicap to 1. Then, get used to the easier Big Forest track before trying tougher courses.

The best feature carried over from the arcade, of course, is the speed of the game. With no custom options, no celebrity driver endorsements, and few of the mind-numbing statistics that bog down other race games, VR puts the emphasis on you and your driving skills. Your car is a missile rocketing along and leaving a trail of thrills behind it. Virtua Racing is by far the most intense driving experience ever created for a 16-bit system.

Skip the Pits. There's no advantage to be gained there.

V is for Victory

So is VR perfect? Not quite. Obviously, the 16-bit game doesn't have everything the arcade original has, starting with the game play. As good as the home version is for solo players, the coin-op VR soars to legendary status because of its multiple-driver capability. There's nothing like racing side by side with up to seven other challengers, bumping each other's cars out of the way and screaming your way to the finish line. The Genesis VR has only a split-screen two-player option. It's still fun, but you eventually realize how much the other drivers add to the arcade experience.

The standard racing tactic of cutting comers to slow yourself down works well here.

You might miss the arcade's steering wheel, too, because it adds immeasurably to the driving realism. Fortunately, the Genesis control pad works well. The controls are quick and responsive. You can turn on a dime, put your car inches from the bridge wall, and gently nudge the car ahead of you. The Handicap settings enable you to adjust the tightness of the controls. VR races best with the six-button pad because you can switch between the other views much easier. With six buttons, you'll only miss that steering wheel for nostalgic reasons.

  • The two hardest views to race with are the High Aerial and Cockpit views. One puts you too far away, the other puts you too close to be able to anticipate turns.
  • Of all the courses, Acropolis is best suited for the aerial or behind-the-car views because it has the most turns.

The Sights and Sounds of a Winner

It's inevitable that the graphics suffer in comparison with the coin-op game. There's a graininess and a loss of background detail on the Genesis that might not be remedied until Sega Sports makes VR for its upcoming 32-bit Saturn. When compared to other polygon-based 16-bit games, however, Genesis VR shines brightly. That SVP chip produces the quickest-moving polygon graphics ever seen on a cartridge (it'd better, because the SVP chip is partly responsible for driving up the price).

  • Opponents will try to ram you. Watch for them and dodge to the side if they nose up to you from behind.
  • Try drafting to gain an edge. Pull up behind your opponent's car, get into his slipstream, and then rocket past him on a straightaway.

VR's graphics are not as sharp as the graphics in Star Fox for the SNES, but they are definitely faster. The cockpit view is truly intense, the track really tilts as you whip into a banked turn, cars zip past you, and there's amazing rotation when your car spins out.

The graphic highlights keep coming. For instance, each of the drivers in two-player mode can switch their view independently of the other driver, putting two different perspectives on the screen at once. To help you win, a simple map and easy-to-read stats line the screen's perimeter. Throughout the game, the colors are strong, and graphic details mark your car (watch for tailpipe flames and tire smoke). You might wish for dramatic collisions, explosions, or wrecks, but this game is about moving, not stopping.

  • As always in racing games, hug the inside of the course as much as possible.
  • Don't worry about racers ahead of you in the two- player game. VR is too fast to do anything but focus on your own situation.
  • Bump opponents only when you're side by side or If your car is slightly ahead. Bump from behind and you'll spin out.

Intermittent music appears, and an ill-defined voice jumps in to announce "Final lap!" Gone are the hard- charging vocals that announced "Turn input!" in the arcade. The cars do generate a lot of atmospheric noises, but they don't stand out as the best ever. At least you can hear the other cars, so you know when someone's approaching from behind.

VR the Champions

If there's a flaw in VR, it's the depth of game play. How much game do you really get for your $100? With only three courses and few options, you'll have tried everything within a few days. And thanks to the exceptional controls, you'll have mastered most of the game in a few weeks. Arcade experts may even complain that the game is too easy.

Virtua Racing is a supremely thrilling experience, but a transient one, especially since there's no way to save your best times. You'll find yourself hunting for new friends to beat in the two-player mode. Still, it's the best excuse you'll have this summer to break every piggy bank you have. VR is a must-have game.

Download Virtua Racing


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.

Game Reviews

  • Manufacturer: Sega of Japan
  • Machine: Mega Drive
  • Theme: Racing
  • Release: March 1994

We finally obtained shots of the Split Screen Two-Player Mode of Virtua Racing! The screen is divided into top and bottom halves in the same style as Super Mario Kart. Despite the intense number of crunching needed to display this mode, surprisingly little background details have been sacrificed. Better still, it is possible to change the vantage points for each person! Unlike the arcade version, the Two-Player Mode will enable such options as tire grip, computer opponents and time limits. Races can be held at all three courses at all difficulty settings. This sizzling hot racer is almost here. Stay tuned for more...

One of the most innovative racing games of all time is almost here on a home system. I know we've covered Virtua Racing before, but now the game is even closer to completion.

The home version is surprisingly close to the coin-op. This lightning fast racer scrolls by smoothly, with the polygon graphics scaling by too.

All the perspectives from the arcade are here, so you can see from the driver's point of view, behind the car, back a little ways from the car, and from above the course.

These pictures have much more detail than last time, as Sega has added the clouds, some of the background animation, and even the pit crew. It doesn't get much better than this! The new DSP chip in action shows what the Genesis is really capable of.

So keep your fingers crossed, as this is one racing game you won't want to miss. Hopefully Virtua Fighters will be next on Sega's list.

  • Manufacturer: SEGA
  • # of players: 1 OR 2
  • Difficulty: MODERATE
  • Available: JUNE 1994
  • Theme: RACING

Here it comes! The racing game that sent the arcade scene into a frenzy has finally come home. Virtua Racing uses polygon technology and Sega's exclusive SVP (Sega Virtua Processor) to make the game as smooth and fast as the arcade version.

You can tear up three tracks against computer-controlled opponents, or have a friend join in for two-player split-screen action with no slowdown whatsoever! What made the arcade game so original was the fact that you could change your driving perspective. On the Genesis, it's included as well. A real cool feature is the Instant Replay Option. After finishing in a top position, you get to watch the entire race over again from multiple camera perspectives. Considering the fact the races take a couple of minutes, it's an awful lot to remember. Pretty impressive.

Sega pulls a rabbit out of their hat by delivering a solid racing game filled with enough special features and fast action to win any racing fan's heart. Now, about that price...

  • Manufacturer: Sega
  • Machine: Genesis
  • Theme: Driving

People say: >


Technically speaking, this game's a masterpiece. It looks and plays great. My only problem is that it's just not as exciting to play as the arcade. I don't know, maybe the novelty just wore off. On certain tracks, it's hard to tell where you're going. Still, it's the best racing game around, with its smooth scaling polygons. Sega did a nice job on this one, but I wish their new chip did something with sound. Still a cool cart.


Virtua Racing is just the tip of the iceberg with this new type of technology. The game simply looks and plays great! It's obviously no match for the arcade, but it holds its own against other racing games. The sounds are lame, but you don't pay much attention to them when racing anyway. The computer really dishes up some strong competition and the game is a blast with two players. It's fantastic!


Virtua Racing comes out as a fairly decent translation. The graphics aren't identical to the arcade, but they are still the best real-time graphics on the Genesis while retaining the original feel of the arcade. As a racing game, I would have to say that this is probably the best I have ever played on a home system. The only drawback is that there is no replay value once you finish the tracks. I love it nonetheless.


This is one of the most realistic driving games yet. From the intense look of the polygons to the great control it is a good adaptation of the arcade game. The different views make it seem like many driving games in one, where you choose the perspective you like best while the second player can choose his/her own. It's not a flawless reproduction of the arcade game but it is still one of the best to date.

  • Manufacturer: Sega
  • Machine: Genesis
  • Theme: Racing
  • No. of Levels: N/A

Burn Rubber!

Hold onto your hats everyone! Virtua Racing is coming soon to a Genesis near you!

Sega has employed some new technology in creating this arcade-to-home translation. The use of the DSP chip helps to enable more fluid scaling and other special effects. Just like StarFox for the Super NES, Virtua Racing offers smooth, polygon-based graphics which are really a sight! The detail in this 16-Meg cart is really something to be seen, and they definitely owe a lot to the arcade game! Oh, and by the way, the wipeouts are spectacular!

The game allows you to race against the clock, other racers, or previous best times. Also, the tracks are based on actual Worldwide Formula One racing circuits! Even the competition is taken from real life drivers! Too cool!

You can alternate between many different viewing perspectives with the push of a button! You can see the race right from the driver's seat, behind the car, slightly above the car, or with an aerial view.

If, during the race - you pass a certain point of the track under a preset time, you will be granted extended racing time.

This cart rocks the house! Strap yourselves in racing fans, because Virtua Racing is here in full force!

One of the most inspiring racers of all time is now coming to the Genesis. It's Virtua Racing at home! Now you can race your car at lightning speeds in your living room! Won't that be exciting? Even though this is just a cart, it contains the scaling and rotation of its arcade counterpart. Rev up your engines, and scream down the track with Virtua Racing.

Snapshots and Media

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots