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Sega Rally is an arcade classic with real motoring credentials. It soon became my racing game of choice, home and away.
First off, I just need to say it. Sega Rally, for me, is the greatest racer of all time.
Hours would pass by as a friend and I would compete on Time Attack mode, desperate to hear the words "Fastest Lap!" uttered by the game's excitable co-driver.
The game offers a choice two legendary rally cars, the Toyota Celica GT Four, and the Lancia Delta Intergrale. Motorsport enthusiasts will be impressed at the amount of detail and, despite the game's age, just how good these cars look. While modern gamers may balk at a choice of just two options it was impressive back in the mid 90's to have detailed, real-world cars at a time when car manufacturers weren't as savvy as they are today.
This cool factor is enhanced with the addition of a third unlockable car, the Lancia Stratos. A Ferrari engined, rear wheel drive monster from the 1970's. Anyone who knows anything about rallying will know just how successful the cars in Rally were, with Lancia dominating the sport throughout the 70s and the late 80s. Toyota's Celica GT Four was a modern car at the time, with the Japanese manufacturer beating all who dared challenge them on famous events like the Safari Rally.
Sega Rally was the game that got me into rallying at a time when the (late) great Colin McRae was battling Tommi Makkinen for World Championships in their Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evos. Of course, at the time, I was too young to drive so had now idea if the games handling and feel was anything like the real thing, but with the benefit of hindsight and some real-world experience, the Sega game does an impressive job of replicating the feeling of driving over the loose surfaces that make up a rally stage, especially considering control is via a standard D-pad with no vibration or other feedback. It feels twitchy at first, but with a little practice, the cars characteristics become predictable. Just like the real thing, then.
Sega Rally is a game that succeeds by making you feel like you really are at the wheel.
Sequels have followed to varying degrees of success, but for me, none have bettered the first title. Sega Rally is a game that succeeds by making you feel like you really are at the wheel of a 300bhp plus rally machine. It is the games handling that is its biggest triumph, twitchy and first, sublime with practice, ten years on, in my opinion, Rally is still the king of driving titles. Control is simple, with the ‘B' button being your accelerator, and ‘A' and ‘C' throwing out the anchors. If you opt for a manual set up (which I recommend) changing up and down are handled by the right and left shoulder buttons respectively.
The two-player split screen battle is great fun too, and adds the sort of longevity that, 15 years on, means Sega Rally is still played regularly in our household. The game really gets the best out of the Saturn too, an example of how good Sega's machine was in the right hands. There is also the ability to tune and customise your vehicle to your own specs, altering the suspension, steering and blow-off valve on you vehicle of choice. It's limited (don't expect anything like Gran Turismo or Forza, here) and its difficult to see any tangible differences the tuning makes, but it demonstrates that Sega wanted the home version of Rally to be more than just a straight arcade port.
It demonstrates that Sega wanted the home version of Rally to be more than just a straight arcade port.
It was the Saturn's best-selling title, and won a few playground battles in the Saturn v PlayStation war, with Sony's console having little in way of retaliation, until Gran Turismo arrived. The impact of Sega Rally shouldn't be underestimated either, with the creators of the Dirt (Colin McRae) series citing the game as inspiration for their title.
Because of its popularity, Sega Rally remains a very cheap game to pick up and if you've not played it (I can't believe you haven't) it's well worth the 99p it will cost.
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