There was a time when the futuristic runner was a staple in racing games. Those days are sadly over. That being said, the genre has had a great run. And even though sci-fi racing titles no longer play out the way they once did, there have still been some really great releases in recent years.
So buckle up in your futuristic gravity-defying, neon-glowing vehicle and get ready to race through a rogues gallery of some of the best sci-fi racers ever released. Don’t forget your seat belt, because we won’t be pacing.
Star Wars Episode 1: Runner
While it may not be the most balanced racing title ever, Star Wars Episode 1: Racer remains, to this day, an extremely fast, fluid, and rewarding arcade racing experience. This title requires you to manage the state of your podracer. While having to manage your vehicle’s durability is nothing new, you can actually fix your podracer here. Although it comes at a cost: speed. This introduces a delicious push your luck element.
There’s also a great leveling system here, which will help prepare you for some of the most brutal races on the line. Again, the name of the game here is speed. It’s a quick race title. And that’s why, to this day, people still rave about it. At least Something bon came out of The Phantom Menace. And hey, it’s even been re-released on modern consoles!
When you think “futuristic running”, you probably don’t mean running. However, Running High is the addictive, quirky, Japan-exclusive running game that turns out to be the exception. Despite being a PS1 title, Running High is absolutely fluid in motion. It seems very good. It also has a fantastic, responsive feel.
There is a combat element. You can hit opponents to the left or right of you. It feels very Road Rash-esque, which is definitely not a bad thing. Running High is absolutely an oddity, but that doesn’t mean it’s purely new. It’s an enjoyable take on the racing genre that has its own flavor and feel.
Jet Motorcycle 2
One of the classic racing franchises of the PS1 era is still an absolute hit to this day. Jet Moto games don’t have the same sense of speed you’d expect from the futuristic racing genre (although they are by no means slow). However, in its place is an excellent sense of weight. From the way your bike handles to the rather interesting grapple system for making some tight turns, Jet Moto just has a very unique feel.
Jet Moto 2 is definitely the pinnacle of the series. Not only are the tracks from Jet Moto 2 some of the best to appear in a racing game, but all of the tracks from the first game are also here. This makes for an amazing package and the definitive Jet Moto experience. Too bad this series is not playable on modern consoles.
Redout is like an unofficial entry into the Wipeout franchise. It takes a lot of F-Zero too, sure, but there’s something about the vehicle handling here that feels more distinctly Wipeout-esque.
One of the great things about Redout is its focus on maintaining speed. This is a racing game that encourages you to never stop accelerating. Tilt your car perfectly, and you can drive through literally every corner of the game, maintaining a excellent sense of momentum. Redout is a fantastic game that pays homage to classics of the past. All fans of the genre should check it out.
Stage 2 headband
The Rollcage series exists in an interesting in-between space within the racing genre. Due to the type of weapons it has, the combat feels a bit more racy than your traditional racing combat game. However, it’s not Mario Kart, the pacing and speed is approaching something akin to a Wipeout game. It’s a game with a great sense of speed, but it can take a minute to master the slipperiness of the controls.
The real centerpiece of Rollcage games is the ability to drive on multiple surfaces (often defying gravity). It feels absolutely awesome and adds great dynamics to the gameplay. Rollcage Stage 2 is a classic racing title that has its own unique feel. Unfortunately, it was also the last game to be released in the series.
Hydro Thunder is a fast-paced racing title that’s not afraid to let loose and get a little weird. So many games set in the future will have you racing through technologically advanced neon environments, but Hydro Thunder embraces a more familiar aesthetic for its world in its unique tracks. Although still set in the future, the world of Hydro Thunder is immediately more familiar. It’s also a game that’s happy enough to get very, very silly.
However, it is not only notable for having well-designed and offbeat tracks, it also has a unique character. To feel. Hydro Thunder is not Wave Race, but the way your ship controls provides that feeling of racing on water. All of this comes together to make Hydro Thunder a unique racing title that has its own identity in both visuals and gameplay.
For years, F-Zero fans have been begging for a new release. Unfortunately, their pleas fell on deaf ears. Fast RMX is therefore the unofficial to respond. The futuristic aesthetic of F-Zero? To verify. Does it have charging plates? To verify. However, while this blindingly fast racing game has a number of F-Zero elements, it also has its own twists on that formula.
One of the best examples of this is the Ikaruga-esque touch to the gameplay. You must change the form to match the color of the segments of each stage. It’s an incredible flourish and helps the game stand on its own two feet.
Eliminate the Omega collection
When it comes to futuristic racing games that feature weapons in their car combat, Wipeout has to be the king. The Wipeout series is among the fastest runners of its kind (a genre known for being stupidly fast). There are also other excellent flourishes.
A great example of this is the ability to cash in weapons to help repair damaged shields on your vehicle. This can give the game a push your luck style element. Do you keep the powerful weapon at hand to try to take first place even if you are one bad collision away from exploding?
F-Zero GX is a special game. It’s loaded with content, it has a great cast of characters, it has some of the best stages in a racing game, and its sense of speed is simply unmatched. F-Zero GX was released decades ago, but no racing game has come close to toppling it in the years since.
If you’re unfamiliar with F-Zero games, they’re blazingly fast, with exhilarating stages that launch you into a wide variety of distinct locations, sometimes allowing you to defy gravity in unique ways. Although there are no weapons here, you can still take out your opponents with a well-timed side swipe. It is, for all intents and purposes, a near-perfect racing game. One that absolutely stands the test of time.
Next: All The Nintendo Racing Franchises, Ranked
The Witcher 4 must have women with more than one body type
About the Author