Racing games were popular on the PlayStation. You could make a dozen lists of the best PS1 racing games and still not cover all of them.
However, we have to start somewhere and these ten titles should be enough for a racing fan.
Gran Turismo 2
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Following up on the success of the first game, Gran Turismo 2 manages to make everything a bit better. It is also one of the most-sold PS1 games, trailing behind its predecessor and Final Fantasy VII, which is to be expected. (link to best sold PS1 games)
The game has two modes, Arcade, which is a loose mode that allows you to race and have fun, and Simulation. The latter is more serious and you first have to earn your driver’s license, and then the money to purchase a vehicle, and win races to unlock more options.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
The Need for Speed franchise was already established by the time Hot Pursuit was released. It was still a game changer, with the introduction of police chases. You can race without the police, or with them chasing you at key points throughout the tracks.
Hot Pursuit also introduced tuning, which could make a favorite vehicle perform more to the user’s liking. The PC version of the game allowed you to assume the role of the police. The game was remade in 2010 and is available on modern platforms.
Developer: Psygnosis Leeds
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment/Psygnosis
Wipeout is a series of games that involve anti-gravity vehicles in the far future. They are controlled and sponsored by mega-corporations, which are the racing teams in the game. Set in 2116, we race in the F7200 Anti-Gravity Race League.
The vehicles/ships perform differently from one to another, and especially if you change teams. The game has power ups on the tracks, which enable you to use weapons or shields, thus hindering or protecting yourself from the opponents.
R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
This is the fourth game in the Ridge Racer series, and it plays like an arcade racer, more than a simulation. The focus of the game is on powerslides, specifically grip and drift. Winning races gets you more points and better cars.
The teams are fictional, as are the car manufacturers. There are a total of 320 cars in the game, and another car that you get as a reward for earning all the “regular” cars. You earn the cars by winning races while driving for all the various combinations of team + manufacturer.
Developer: Eden Studios
Publisher: Infogrames/Electronic Arts
V-Rally 2 is actually another Need for Speed title but is usually shortened to its more known name. It contains all the vehicles that competed in the 1999 World Rally Championship season. It also has all the tracks except Greece and Safari from the same season.
What makes the game stand out is its remarkable fun and almost bridging both a driving simulator and an arcade game. It has a day and night cycle, as well as rain, snow, or dry conditions. Take your pick of weather/track, and race on.
Colin McRae Rally 2.0
Like V-Rally 2, this game focuses on rallying, but this time on the 2000 World Rally Championship season. As with the previous game, this one has all the cars from the season, as well as the racing tracks.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, this is probably one of the best PS1 games in general. (link to master PS1 article) It has great graphics, replayability, and best of all, the driving mechanics. Racing fans should definitely mark this game.
Developer: Attention to Detail
Rollcage is a game that gives Twisted Metal, Wipeout, and Carmageddon a run for their money. You pilot a weaponized car, but you can also do much more, such as drive on walls, and ceilings and go off the beaten path.
There are many power-ups to collect during a race, which is why you should keep an eye out for the walls and ceilings. Interestingly, one of the game’s developers released a patch in 2014, fixing all the game’s bugs. It was dubbed Rollcage Redux.
TOCA World Touring Cars
Known in the North American market as the Jarrett & Labonte Stock Car Racing, this title focuses on touring car championships. There wasn’t a licensed championship, which upset some people, but also made the game more accessible to casual players.
Notably, since the game was more of an arcade racers, more people were able to enter the franchise. The PS version sold really well in the United Kingdom, outpacing many other titles that were getting more media attention.
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Not every racing game has to be serious or have amazingly accurate physics or cars that resemble their real-life counterparts. Sled Storm is a game where you race on snowmobiles. The weather is moody and the courses are treacherous.
There are a total of eight racers and fourteen courses. The game has various modes, from a strict race to a motocross-like trick mode where you focus on earning stunt points. Playing the Championship mode is a requirement to unlock some courses/drivers.
Formula 1 97
Developer: Bizarre Creations
This game is known as Formula 1 Championship Edition in North America, and is probably the best of the F1 games that was released on the PlayStation. The game features all the courses from the 1997 season, and almost all the drivers.
The game features two distinct modes, a Grand Prix mode, aimed at the enthusiasts and realism seekers; and an arcade mode, for those who want to race without having to pay attention to all the minute details, and enjoy their time.
These are some of the best PS1 racing games that you can play on the original console if you’re lucky, or on modern computers with an emulator.
The console has more racing games, from crazy arcade types to realistic simulators. Take your pick and rev up your engines.