There’s no arcade racing series quite like SEGA Rally. The first game, SEGA Rally Championship 95 not only shifted the goal posts in the genre – it was among the first in the 3D space to change your traction depending on the racing surface – it’s directly credited by Codemasters themselves as the inspiration for the Colin McRae Rally games, and more besides. All the ports of the original game were sterling, and though SEGA Rally 2 was great in the arcades, on the Dreamcast, well… let’s just say that calling it a technical disaster is putting it rather mildy.
And while I’d like to take a deep-dive into the series at a later date, we’re here for SEGA Racing Studio’s SEGA Rally 3, and it’s various incarnations, so let’s get down to business.
⇑⇑⇑⇑ Sega Rally 3 via TeknoParrot ⇑⇑⇑⇑
SEGA Rally 3 was a strange Arcade title, to be sure. Developed in tandem with the console/PC title SEGA Rally Revo, rather than originally for arcades and ported home, it shared much of the same assets, courses and cars as it’s bulkier console brother. Only, y’know, with a sliver of the content. The gameplay was better all-round, but I’m getting ahead of myself here…
SEGA Rally Revo. Yeah. It’s alriiiiight…
⇑⇑⇑⇑ Sega Rally Revo PC ⇑⇑⇑⇑
Revo would be my first SR3 experience, and I’m sad to report that I found myself massively underwhelmed upon it’s release. Despite having a camera system quite similar to the first Rally port on the Saturn, oodles of content, deformable terrain and rather stunning audio/visual presentation – minus the generic music – something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. To this day I still can’t find it in my heart to love Revo like I want to. I like it enough, sure, and I did my bit and purchased it twice (once on the Xbox 360 and again on PC), but that wasn’t enough to save SEGA Racing Studio from collapse. I guess the vast majority of gamers out there felt as ambivalent toward Revo as I did. Which is an absolute shame, as almost all the elements of true greatness were there. But somehow, the landing was bungled, and it failed to resonate with the general public.
SIDE NOTE: If you’re at all curious about Revo, then you’ll be able to find second-hand copies pretty much anywhere you’ll find PS3 and Xbox 360 games, no problem, and for only a few dollars. It’s worth noting, however, that these versions of the game run at 30fps, which may seem fine and dandy, but I found the lower frame-rate to be a slight buzz-kill, especially when taking Revo’s slower controls into consideration. It looks nice enough, and it’s nothing if not consistent, but still, it’s one game that I find suffers in regard to controller response.
The PC port of Revo may be harder to track down and get running, but you do get the faster frame-rates. It’s just a shame that there’s some weird timing issues with it. It reads 60fps, but there’s constant judder that I’m assuming is tied to poor frame-pacing. I myself couldn’t play it for the longest time because of this, but having tried it relatively recently on my 1440p G-SYNC monitor, I can safely say that the issue is mitigated somewhat – enough to make it playable at least. Definitely worth a try if you’re rocking a G-SYNC display.
So yeah. Revo. It’s alright. But my own personal disappointment with Revo was short-lived, since SEGA saw fit to bring the full-fat Arcade game home with the release of SEGA Rally Online Arcade.
Or SROA for short.
I ain’t typing that out a million times over.
To be honest, I was pretty skeptical of the release at first, since I had no basis for comparison at the time. I’d never even stumbled across an arcade cabinet in the wild. It had to be Revo with fewer cars, even fewer tracks and less modes. Right?
Well, I was partially correct, but SROA was waaaay more than the sum of it’s parts…
SEGA RALLY ONLINE ARCADE – Much better, but you’ll never get to find out just how much.
⇑⇑⇑⇑ Sega Rally Online Arcade ⇑⇑⇑⇑
The first thing that struck me about SROA was that the camera was different. It was stuck behind the car this time, and dropped the pivot-style of Revo and Saturn Rally. A small change, but it made the world of difference to the controls. The game was now tight AF, and responsive as all hell. This had a knock-on effect to your view of the action – the game now gave you the best view of the road ahead – something that Revo didn’t always manage to do. The downgrade to 720p30 (rather than the 720p/60 of the arcade verison, or 1080p60 of later revisions) didn’t bug me as much this time, and in fact, it still doesn’t today. It plays perfectly fine, and thanks to some really nice image quality for the time, holds up rather well on a newer TV or monitor.
And while SROA definitely lacked content compared to Revo, it mattered not. The five courses (Tropical, Canyon, Alpine, Lakeside and Desert 95) were fantastic. More than enough for me at any rate, and the amazing controls cemented SROA as my favourite racer on the 360. The game even taught me how to use Manual Transmission. I’d go so far as to say that it’s my preferred method now – even when just booting it up for a quick race or two. For me, that was a definite milestone, and also completely unheard of.
SROA has it where it counts. Go in expecting a perfect arcade racing experience, and you’ll not be disappointed. Or you could go into it, once upon a time.
Sadly, it’s not available for purchase anymore.
This is where I’d bang on about shitty licensing issues and other such fun things, but that would be boring. So I’ll just say this. Shoulda’ been on dem physical discs the oldies reminisce about, and digital releases suck. I mean, if you already happen to own it – awesome! You can re-download it until the marketplaces go down. But licensing issues with the cars lead to SEGA taking it down a year or two later. I’m honestly thankful they saw fit to release what was sure to only ever be a niche title in the first place. Props for that, SEGA! But yeah, you can’t go out and buy it today, which is a damned shame.
But what you CAN do today do is play the original SEGA Rally 3 Arcade game ON YOUR PC.
SEGA RALLY 3 ARCADE – TeknoParrot to the RESCUE!
I recently discovered TeknoParrot , a killer program that allows arcade games to run on PC. It’s game selection is pretty limited right now, with about 20-30 games supported, but it’s become one of my favourite things on the internet. I’m also pretty sure it’s not emulation, so the system requirements aren’t as high as you’d think. Don’t quote me on that though, I may just be talking out of my ass on that one.
Regardless, the experience is glorious. After you’ve downloaded TeknoParrot (and found a working dump of SEGA Rally 3 – Google is your friend), then all you need to do is point TeknoParrot toward the folder the dump has been extracted to, configure the controls to your liking, edit the .ini to reflect your desired resolution setting, and voila: INSTANT SEGA RALLY 3.
⇑⇑⇑⇑ Bask in the glory ⇑⇑⇑⇑
Having played so much SROA at 30 fps, I really appreciate the difference the 60 fps makes in regards to controller response when playing SR3 Arcade. The wider field-of-view is also another boon – you get to see much more of the environment, and everything looks super crisp and sharp. Even more so if you implement some graphical niceties via NVIDIA Control Panel or an equivalent. I’m running this game at 1440p with all the anti-aliasing I can throw at it at a locked 60fps, and to be honest, I’d be happy if games never managed to look better than this. The hyper-real colour palettes are gorgeous, and even the Browns look awesome and exciting.
So yeah – SR3 Arcade is a bit of a looker, then. And it plays just as well too! The controller mapping in TeknoParrot is fantastic, it feels just right. Fanging around some of my favourite courses in all of arcade racing history has never felt better.
Sound is par for the course, and the same as you’ll find in Revo and SROA. The music is still shit, but this is the rare instance that I’m thankful that the engine notes and announcer are placed way too high in the mix.
In regards to modes, there’s the familiar World Championship mode (do well enough and you’ll see a new take on Lakeside), Quick Race and Desert 95 – a separate race on the original SEGA Rally Championship Desert course – complete with the classic Toyota Celica and Lancia Delta cars to choose from. It’s pure, basic, arcade-racing bliss.
I do have a bit of a gripe though. The lack of Time Trials is something I find perplexing, even taking into account the arcade roots. It wasn’t unusual for arcade games of the time to include a Time Trial option (SEGA’s own Initial D games, for example), so their absence is strange. Quick Race alleviates this issue a little, and the relatively low level of challenge, even set to Hard, means you’ll shoot in front of the pack before long. This leaves you free to aim for the stars and perfect your racing lines.
The lack of options and Time Trial means that although you’ll have a blast for a bit, how long you stick with the game depends entirely on how you feel about arcade racers in general. This one is about as easy as they come, so if you’re at all proficient at the game, you’ll nab all those first place positions on your first go. All that’s left to do afterwards is to chase your best times. This suits me to a fucking T. I am a Certain Kind of Gamer, after all. SEGA Rally Saturn has kept me occupied for 20+ years now, and bar the Time Trial features, it contains less content, courses and cars. I’d point you in the direction of SROA, but there’s sadly no way to legitimately purchase the game any more, so SR3 Arcade will have to do if you’re after the more pure, Arcade experience.
Still, what it does do, it does so marvellously. I’ve put many hours into the thing over the last few days, and I’m sure I’ll put in many hours more.
But I need MOAR Rally.
So, SEGA Rally 3, in all its incarnations, is pretty damned good. Revo was OK, SEGA Rally Online Arcade was much better, and though that one is dead and buried, you can experience most of its splendour by playing SEGA Rally 3 Arcade via TeknoParrot.
Let me know if you’d like to see tutorials on how I got the game running on my own PC. I’d love to help the community out in any way that I can, and it’s an experience that whilst a little lean, deserves to be played.
Also, I have no idea how to end this. It was literally just an excuse to wax lyrical about some arcade racing games what I like.
Arcade racers – GOOD. TeknoParrot – BETTER!
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Tags: Blog, Games, Microsoft, PC, Playstation, Playstation 3, PSN, Retro, SEGA, SEGA Racing Studio, SEGA Rally, SEGA Rally 3, SEGA Rally Online Arcade, SEGA Rally Revo, Sony, Tekkno Parrot, Video Games, XBLA, Xbox, Xbox 360