Widely considered the first true racing game, Pole Position started off on the Atari arcade. In 1983, it was the most popular coin-operated arcade game out there, and it inspired other game-makers to follow in its footsteps.
Released on the Nintendo SNES, Super Mario Kart was so popular that it sold 9 million copies worldwide, and became the third best-selling SNES game of all time. Super Mario Kart is still enjoyed today by many, and has been re-released on the Wii Console and many others. It really is a classic.
Colin McRae is often considered the first semi-realistic rally game, leading to a craze of slicker, more streamlined racers. Named after legendary rally driver, Colin McRae, he even got on-board to help offer technical advice, when the game was being created.
Created for the Sega Genesis, it was the best-selling video game of its time, and you can play it online now for free! It’s considered a “driving” game, rather than a “racing” game, and even gives the player a choice of music. If you’d like to spend some time on a classic, retro car game, you can’t go wrong with OutRun.
Gran Turismo (1997)
Under the Playstation brand, Gran Turismo was the highest-selling video game franchise. The first game was 5 years in the making and was generally positively acclaimed by critics. It was so popular that it has 10 spin-offs.
Although many, many versions of Gran Turismo have been released on the various Playstation consoles, you can still find the original GT for sale for the Playstation 1. Although they’re usually for a hefty premium.
Forza Motorsport (2005)
The best-selling Xbox racing series, Forza Motorsport was effectively Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo. Forza aimed to create an authentic driving experience from a wide variety of race cars.
Even though Forza has had just about the same number of games as Gran Turismo, the originals aren’t selling for quite the high premium as GT. In fact you can pick pick one up for just a few bucks on Amazon.
A game where crashing became fun, rather than a failure, Burnout awards bonus points for near misses with other cars, and there are turbo boosts too.
You have to avoid smashing into traffic, which costs time, leading to a relaxed, exciting experience, a little different to your usual racing game.
Burnout has a number of versions available for sale as well over the years, each one better than the next. My personal favorite is Burnout Paradise.
Need For Speed (1994)
Widely recognized as the most successful racing game series in the world, Need For Speed’s greatest strength was the huge variety of customization options at the player’s disposal, keeping them interested in the game.
The Need for Speed franchise has made so many games that they went back full circle to the original naming convention.
Grand Theft Auto (1997)
An exceptionally popular – but controversial – game, Grand Theft Auto isn’t exactly about racing, but cars play a large role in this open world platform. Modeled on American cities, Grand Theft Auto allows players the freedom to do whatever they like, whether that’s cruising around the map listening to the unique radio stations, or attacking random strangers on the sidewalk.