Arcade Racing Legends – Review

SEGA Dreamcast

2020 – JoshProd / PixelHeart

Greetings all, Gametrog here and I am super excited to bring you this review! It’s not often that you get to review a NEW SEGA Dreamcast game! That’s right. I have in my possession another awesome home-brew from JoshProd and Pixelheart, Arcade Racing Legends. I have several titles from JoshProd and have been thrilled with all of them. Nothing beats getting a new game, with case and manual for a classic/retro system and JoshProd just keeps making them happen. Arcade Racing Legends is a throw back to arcade style (not simulation) racing and gives a nod to all the right classic racing games on the Dreamcast and other systems. Let’s take a look under the hood and see how this baby runs.

The Story:

It’s an arcade racing game, there is no story, except the long history of SEGA’s racing games that many grew up with from the arcades to the home consoles. In the age or Forza and even older series like Gran Turismo and SEGA GT where car collecting, vehicle tuning and tire pressure are the tools of the trade, this game steers away from that and downshifts into straight arcade racing action. Daytona, SEGA Rally and Virtua Racing is what we’re talking about here. Floor the gas pedal and go.

The Cars:

Arcade Racing Legends gives you an awesome collection of cars that are sure to bring back memories. You will find nods to the Daytona Hornet, SEGA Rally Delta and Crazy Taxi Eldorado. In the garage you will also find a Batmobile, Ghostbusters Hearse and even Twisted Metal Ice Cream Truck! There are over 15 vehicles to choose from.

The Tracks:

There are six tracks when you start the game; Desert, Forrest, Beach, City Night, Arctic & Submarine. These are all great looking tracks with different difficulties. Each track will remind you of some arcade racer you’ve played in the past. They really did an amazing job with these as you feel you’re driving down the Outrun Beach again or the SEGA Rally Forrest. When you get to Arctic, Submarine or City Night you get some nice Speed Devil or Tokyo Extreme waves of nostalgia. Keep your eyes peeled for some nice little side track elements also.

The Game:

Arcade Racing Legends is packed with most of the features you would find in a classic arcade racer. 

Career Mode: Gives you 18 different challenges to overcome. These could be as simple as “come in 1st place”, or as tough as “complete a lap without touching the wall”. You start on Day 1 and have to unlock the next day by completing the challenge. Complete them all and get a special prize…

Arcade Mode: Race against 1-3 other cars as you try to come in first. You have to win each race to unlock the next of 6 tracks. Again, true to the classics, the first couple cars will be fairly easy to get around, but the guy in first will give you a run for your money! I would have liked to seen an option with more cars on the track as the most that will ever race is 4, but hey, I don’t know what these guys were up against designing and programming this, so all is good.

Time Trial: Select any of the tracks you’ve unlocked and drive for your best time. You can select 1, 3, 5 or infinite laps. Your times are saved so you can always try and beat them. You also get a ghost car of your best time to race against.

Duel: Another throwback to the golden age. With the SEGA Dreamcast online feature all but gone, you can still play with a buddy on split screen! The screen is split top and bottom and plays just a smooth as the single player experience.

Garage: This is where your stable of cars are parked. All the cars are available from the get-go. And they all control the same, no real difference other than the appearance. You can however set the steering sensitivity, brake power and gripping for each car. Not a lot of tuning, but that’s not what this game is about! There is also no manual shifting mode, it’s all automatic, just hit the gas pedal and go!

Finally the Options screen allows you to re-map the controller, adjust the sound volumes and vibration settings. You can create, save and load profiles also which is a nice feature. And finally you can see the credits for everyone who helped make this game possible. Many of them are those who supported JoshProd on the Kickstarter to put this game on the track! 

The Controls:

This is an arcade racer through and through. The SEGA Dreamcast controller is perfectly utilized and makes handling the car a breeze. The controls are very responsive and the analog control is on point. The cars do not feel “floaty”, but instead seem to have a good grip on the road. There is no gear shifting so all you need is brake and gas. The game has much more of an arcade feel than a simulation feel (see the games name), and that is just perfect. One aspect I really like is the feel of the car grabbing the road as you slide and accelerate out of a corner. Each track is walled in with rails so there is no shoulder to slide up on, and while you can use the rail a little, you can not use it a lot. Drive to hard into the rails or another car are you will slow down, so mastering the brake is essential especially for some fo the Career Mode challenges. Once you get the feel of it and learn the track, you can zip around like a pro. 

You can switch between two chase-cam views and the road view. You can also hit a trigger button to look at the fool you just passed.

The Graphics:

The visuals on Arcade Racing Legends are very nice. These guys clearly have good mastery of the SEGA Dreamcast capabilities and make good use of them. The cars all look good. They may not have a SEGA GT level of detail but definitely hold up great for an arcade racer. They are also plastered with some nice shout-outs to more folks who made the game possible. The tracks, as mentioned above, look fantastic. Great colors and and very good frame rate. I’m not sure if it’s 60 FPS, but it’s butter smooth and never misses a beat.

The draw distances are also very good with almost zero pop-up. It’s awesome to take a long rising turn on some track and see the rest of the track sprawled out below you off a cliffs edge. JoshProd and PixelHeart did a great job with using the detail scaling abilities of the Dreamcast also. This does not look like a game made by just a handful of people.

The Sound:

 

The games sounds are suitable. There seems to be only one car engine sound for all of the cars, but it’s good and works. The only other sound you hear on the road is the crash into a wall or car and the occasional tire screech. It seems to me like there could be a little more tire chirp when you’re taking a hard corner, but that’s nit-picking. 

The games music is spot on. There are several tracks ranging from Electronic to Rock and all fit the fast paced racing perfectly. Throw in some nice menu music to round it out.

 

The Difficulty:

 

When you first start off you will hit the walls for a bit, but as I mentioned above, once you master the brake and spend a little time on the game, you get it. It is not a steep curve at all and you will be knocking out challenges one after the other pretty quick. The other cars give you the same challenge you’ve faced in other arcade racers. The guys in the back are easy, the guys up front, not so much. You’ll need to know what you’re doing to win the later races. I played about 5 good sessions of about 2-3 hours each for this review to complete the challenges and races.

 

The Verdict:

As a “home-brew” game I have to be a bit partial. To get a game of this quality, 10 years after a system came out, and not out of a major publishing house is simply amazing. While there are a few additions I would have liked, I just can’t fault Josh and the crew, they delivered on what they promised and that means you can go out and buy a brand new SEGA Dreamcast game that would easily get the SEGA Seal of Approval! And so it gets mine also. I give Arcade Racing Legends 4 Stars with another half-star thrown in for the home-brew achievement. I can’t wait for their next title!

Thats’ right, I’m a Legend! – Can you do it?