Though the glory days of titles like Sega Rally, Daytona USA Deluxe, and Virtua Racer are firmly behind us, replaced by massive franchises that favor an overall experience centered around hyper-authenticity and obsessive car collecting as a means of progression, a Kickstarter project led by a user under the name of Pelikan13 hoped to spawn a throwback of sorts to a much simpler time for both the PC and Nintendo’s ill-fated Wii U. Operating under the working title of 90’s Arcade Racer, the acquisition of funds for what ended up being a fully functional game behind closed doors began sometime in 2013, though with the 2017 calendar year steadily approaching, there still isn’t a finished product both potential customers and those who helped finance the project can go out and purchase. Today’s Reader Submission comes from our longtime contributor and our unofficial Twitter account operator fmecha, drawing attention to the fact that what’s occurring with 90’s Arcade Racer is turning into a bit of a mess for those who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.
Good afternoon, PRC. It has been a while since I’ve sent something into you guys, hey? And this time, we’re dealing with a Kickstarter-based arcade racing game: 90’s Arcade Racer, aka 90’s Super GP. An arcade racing game designed as a modern take on SEGA branded arcade titles such as Daytona USA and Sega Super GT.
The Kickstarter project took off around 2012 to 2013, collecting roughly 16,000 GBP, most of the donations coming from the hardcore Sega arcade cabinet fandom. Wii U and PC, as well as the iOS/Android mobile devices, were touted as platforms, and this was seen as a huge positive for Wii U owners considering they had little in the way of racing games to select from. Everything honestly looked quite promising for those into these kinds of simple racing games; everyone in the community was watching the project with the utmost of attention. Kickstarter progress reports were delivered on a steady basis until November of 2015, though the game was originally intended to be released a year earlier in November of 2014. For the majority of this year, the developers of the title remained silent, never giving any updates, causing every arcade racing fan emotionally and financially invested in 90’s Arcade Racer to become anxious about the fate of the game.
This anxiety was compounded by the fact that another Kickstarter-based game Mighty No. 9 – a Mega Man clone by one of the original Mega Man developers and heavily supported by diehard Mega Man fans – shipped with an abundance of bugs and was poorly received by virtually everyone even the least bit interested in it.
The developers of 90’s Arcade Racer finally broke their silence in their most recent Kickstarter update earlier this year, mentioning that they’d actually moved on to a different game called The TakeOver, and claiming that their time spent on 90’s Arcade Racer had concluded and was ready to be handed off to a publisher. However, in May 2016, Nicalis, the publisher, seemingly moved 90’s Arcade Racer away from the original intended platforms to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – a decision absolutely nobody supported, though in hindsight now makes sense thanks to Nintendo’s introduction of their new console, the Nintendo Switch.
Aiming for a Fall 2016 release date, which is right now, we still don’t know anything about the status of 90’s Arcade Racer. It should be noted that Nicalis itself is a publisher with a poor track record of announcing ports of random indie games that often go unreleased, such as the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Legend of Raven, a fighting game that eventually was released as a PlayStation Vita exclusive. They also infamously cancelled the international WiiWare release of La-Muluna, though the game was eventually picked up and published by EnjoyUp Games instead.
And thus, a sad story of a crowdfunded racing game that the Sega arcade racers fandom – including, full disclosure, myself – eagerly awaited, but ended up being vaporware. It’s probably not coming out.
At the risk of triggering you and ripping apart your love of driving games inspired by eastern market video game trends, I have a feeling the title’s demise has something to do with the actual subject matter. Look, the trailer for 90’s Arcade Racer sent a lot of gamers on an enjoyable nostalgia trip, but these games as actual products people can buy are little more than a heavily dated snapshot of the mid 1990’s, rather than a compelling release gamers would willingly want to spend money on and sink time into. I can tell from the gameplay footage that it’s not like 90’s Arcade Racer was an inherently bad game – it’s basically the driving physics of Outrun 2 in a closed-circuit experience (which if I remember correctly was how the unlockable tracks in the home console version operated), but 90’s Arcade Racer isn’t something many people want badly enough to purchase.
The evidence of this is in a title many of you will remember being on the shelves at Best Buy or other preferred video game stores about a decade ago, Sega Rally Revo. Now if I’ve got to jog your memory a bit, Sega tried to reboot the Sega Rally franchise for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but the game as Sega built it just didn’t stack up to what else was being offered at the time – namely Project Gotham Racing 4 and Forza Motorsport 2, which were these mammoth experiences you could play for weeks compared to the shallow waters of Rally Revo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nicalis felt the same way about 90’s Arcade Racer, and merely picked it up as an asset they could use to release when they felt they needed funding for something else in the future. It’s obviously a shame a fanbase for an extremely specific sub-genre essentially got fucked over to that extent; contributing money to a project that never saw the light of day after four years, but that’s the gamble you take on Kickstarter campaigns.
It looks nice, but quite frankly I wouldn’t play it, and it’s hard to imagine there’s an audience for it.
Now another piece of the puzzle may be insider knowledge of Sega’s recent announcement to revive the Daytona USA brand and push out a modern arcade cabinet game. Sure, the world has been told Daytona USA 3 is coming, but we’re not 100% sure if that will extend to consoles at some point just yet, and it makes me wonder if Nicalis knows something we don’t, and is considering scrapping the project entirely. I mean, if Daytona USA is back on the market, what would drive people to instead purchase a knock-off, right?