I’ve been reading The Games That Weren’t, an interesting book about videogames that were made, or partly made, yet never saw the light of day. And I was intrigued to discover that Namco’s Ridge Racer, one of the greatest arcade racers of all time, was originally going to have an official PC release in 1996—until Sony decided it wanted to keep it to itself.
In the 1990s, UK studio Psygnosis worked closely with Sony, developing classics like WipEout and Destruction Derby for the original PlayStation. It ported both of those games to PC, and Ridge Racer was going to be next. Although no one, including Games That Weren’t author Frank Gasking, knows exactly how this deal between Psygnosis, Sony, and Namco was brokered.
The team worked hard to get Ridge Racer running on PC, upscaling the low-resolution textures and adding PC-specific graphics and control options. But otherwise this was a faithful replica of the PlayStation game—which is exactly what Psygnosis wanted. Ridge Racer had been out for a while at this point, and it wanted the PC version to be as authentic as possible.
According to the book, the game ran great on modern (at the time) Pentium PCs, and Psygnosis also optimised the code so it would be playable on older machines without graphics acceleration. The book also notes that the port didn’t receive much press, but PC Gamer did feature it in a ‘Where are they now?’ column when it failed to materialise.
Sadly, it never made it to the finish line. It seems Sony, despite allowing PC ports of Destruction Derby and WipEout, wanted to keep some of its flagship games to itself. You can emulate the PlayStation and arcade originals perfectly on PC nowadays, so it’s no great loss. But it would’ve been cool to see this smoother, sharper PC version of Ridge Racer in action.
Thanks again to The Games That Weren’t, where you can read more about this story, including interviews with some of the original devs.