Review: Sega Rally Online Arcade

When you’ve got such a fondly remembered classic in your latest game’s title, chances are you’re pitching the thing at a very specific crowd.  Sega Rally fans are deliciously hardcore – I should know – the original coin-ops not only a personal favourite but for many a treasured collection of memories wrapped up in silicon.  2007’s Sega Rally was an attempt to reignite doused flames but the handling was off and the frame rate, locked at thirty frames per second, certainly didn’t feel like the arcade game we all loved so much.

It’s surprising, then, to learn that Online Arcade was to be little more than a cut-down version of the last game, with a tweaked handling model and a relatively minor chunk of fan service thrown in in the shape of a one-on-one with two retro cars if you do well enough in the so-called Championship mode.  Which, to be fair to the game’s arcade roots, is at least on the same sort of levels length-wise (you’ll get through the first four main tracks in about ten minutes) and if you end up coming first you’ll get the aforementioned fifth bonus event.

[drop2]So, with the bright, brash (and oh so Sega) visuals (and menu structure) taken straight from the previous console Sega Rally you’d be forgiven for thinking this is probably worth skipping over, especially if you’ve already beaten that particular game, but the guys at Sumo have taken the handling model that was a little bit staid and dull and thrown in something else entirely, meaning that – if you’re good enough – most of each course will be spent with your cars sideways – it’s exaggerated, but it’s so much fun.

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In the same way that I found Outrun Arcade such an addictive delight, the pleasure in Sega Rally Online Arcade comes from the pure joy of the basic but reliable controls and the pressure to better yourself at each run.  It’s not a tough game by any stretch, and the removal of the clever surface deformation (and resulting physics) means that you don’t need to think as much when you’re rattling around the tracks, but there’s always the chance to go faster, especially in the time trial mode which will make up most of the playtime.

However, and here’s the rub: this Sega Rally is, even if you count the multiplayer, decidedly bare bones.  Sure, it’s only £7 or so (800 Microsoft Points and presumably around the same when the PSN Store flicks back into life) but if you discount the ability to race people online you can probably get much better value out of the disk-based Sega Rally, which I’ve seen for about the same price second hand.  Online Arcade’s track count is minimal and there’s no deep single player, it’s purely the same quick five course sprint every time.

And given that the graphics are somewhat tired looking it’s a real shame the game doesn’t run at the full sixty frames per second.  Yes, it’s locked at thirty and it doesn’t waver, once, but surely this could have clocked in at the proper arcade speed, which would have at least given it a fresher feel.  The tracks included are decent looking enough, and the cars are serviceable (albeit hardly the most current models) but this is a game all about the fun, so don’t go in expecting demo material for your console – it’s certainly not.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, immediate fun

Cons:

  • You’ve probably already played most of this
  • It’s a tad expensive given the content
  • Feels and looks dated

Your mileage, as they say, may vary.  You’ll get more out of this if you pour time into the online multiplayer – going toe to toe with fellow humans is always better than weaving past dumb AI, but – much like GTi Club or Outrun Online Arcade – the game itself won’t hold your attention for much longer than an hour or so if you don’t.  Time trials may hold your attention for longer, of course, and some will find an addictive supply of opponents ready to strip your total by a second or so keeping things active and interesting.

Me?  I just adore driving sideways.

Score: 7/10

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11 Comments

  1. A few more tracks i might have gone for it.

  2. For me, this game is in the same ball park as GTI Club+Rally Cote D’Azur. I might pick up SEGA Rally if its on the cheap at some point….

  3. Nice review. I still have the Sega Rally released around launch. havent played it in an age. Might dig it out and give it a go… sometime in the future ;) –> always enjoy a bit of sega rally

  4. Loved it back in the days. Probably will give this a pass because it might ruin the good memories…

  5. Anyone for Dirt3?

    • Mine just got dispatched from shopto. Hopefully will have it tomorrow:)

      • same here mate, hopefully tomorrow or Monday

  6. I have to say that having bought sega rally online arcade for the 360 on wednesday, i was gutted to find only 5 race tracks. Its a good, fun game but due to the lack of courses, it feels more like an expensive demo. With more tracks, it would have been more of a must have game.I completed the single player championship mode on my first try…..all i could think was OMG is that it! I also unlocked over half of the achievements with my first hours play as well which is nice for the extra points but i do prefer the achievements to be more spread out though…more value for money in the play stakes. Overall…its not a bad game but due to the lack of content, it should have been priced at 400ms points. At 800ms points, it feels like ive been ripped off a bit….shame on you SEGA/SUMO.

  7. I played the coin op version last week in the reception of my hotel and still highly enjoyable to play

  8. Good review. Im in.

  9. £7.00 not that bad, but too many other better driving games out there.

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