Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Ridge Racer Legacy, part 24...

The fictional manufacturers in Ridge Racer were at war, but it was a battle without casualties or collateral damage. These companies were in a constant battle to release race cars that evolved as fast as technology allowed. Unbounded completely misunderstood that message. Ridge Racer 6 and 7 was a different type of conflict than Namco had been used to presenting. G.V.I. the Mishima Zaibatsu and the General Resources corporate sponsors reminded Ridge Racer fans that the biggest power players in Namco canon were not neutral parties. They were using the race to advertise their own agendas. Even on the track there was still good and evil personified. The Angel 0 and Devil 13 highlighted that understanding. The companies that manufactured the race cars would limit the fighting to the track. Every class of cars was a chance for one company to establish its dominance. Every release of a new model was a hotly anticipated arrival by racing fans. The best thing that a player could see, even more than the finish line, was the announcement screen that "You've got a new machine!"

Players were rewarded by their sponsors for certain achievements. Usually winning class categories and time attacks. Each manufacturer would deliver a newer, faster race car in a spectacular fashion. As it was the cast of cars was diverse and the tracks memorable and control spot on. Every new car was a chance to get a little better. Imagine the surprise that audiences would get in other genres. If in a fighting game, where there were a dozen or more well designed and balanced characters, then suddenly a new playable character is unveiled. Then another, then another as the game goes on. Each one with slightly different attributes and abilities. Each new fighter added didn't break the overall experience and only served to make the game better. This was what Ridge Racer felt like every time the transport vehicle showed up.

Cars were not delivered by the usual methods. They never drove in from the street for example. Nor were they met by paparazzo's at any unveiling. The delivery of a new machine was a sacred tradition reserved for only the most hardcore race fans.

Every new car arrived in style. Sometimes it arrived like a celebrity or dignitary to an important gala. They were met by a contingent of team members wearing their manufacturers livery.

The animations that played out for every new car was a chance for audiences to appreciate the scope of the world that Namco had developed. If a car arrived in the city at daytime players could make out busy roadways and planes departing and landing from the nearby airport.

Sometimes the manufactures would keep the release of a new car a secret from the world. They would deliver a single race car via cargo jet and unload inside of an airport hanger, far from the eyes of the public or the telephoto lens of a spy.

The latest creation would remain under wraps until the race itself. Sometimes a car would arrive at the local port under the cover of darkness. Only a wayward seagull would get to witness some of the best modeled cars ever featured in a game. The idea of secrecy was completely over the top and that was part of the charm that Ridge Racer had established.

The tradition of making a show out of new car deliveries was started in Ridge Racer Type 4. Manufacturers would reward the performance of drivers with newer and faster cars every few races. With 321 cars to unlock players looked forward to a visit from the sponsor truck. There was a manufacturers truck as well in Ridge Racer 6 and 7. It looked as futuristic as many of the rides.

Sometimes a manufacturer couldn't help themselves and had to unveil a new car in spectacular fashion. Rave City was reserved for those moments.

Every generation of vehicles was a legacy design but some were a step into the unknown. The most radical designs from the manufacturers were not delivered to the players by truck, helicopter or jet. When R&D was ready to unveil a top secret project then it was transported from deep within the bowels of the corporate headquarters via a hidden lift. Every manufacturer had a wild concept for what the future of racing would look like. Audiences would get a glimpse at the cars that would shape racing in the next century. Even better they would get a chance to pilot those cars and destroy their fastest lap times. What audiences didn't always realize was that reality was not far from fiction.

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