Sega Rally Championship (セガラリー・チャンピオンシップ), also known simply as Sega Rally or occasionally by the extended title of Sega Rally Championship 1995, is an arcade racing game developed by Sega AM3 for Sega Model 2A CRX arcade hardware. It was released in 1995 to critical acclaim, and is the first in the Sega Rally series.
This is not the same game as the Game Boy Advance and N-GageSega Rally Championships which emerged in the years which followed.
Sega Rally is an off-road racing game, in which players drive rally cars across one of four tracks as quickly as possible. Like prior Sega arcade racing games, Sega Rally enforces a strict time limit and a checkpoint system - success is measured by how fast the player can navigate the three standard tracks before either crossing the final finish line or retiring due to the timer running out.
As a rally game, Sega Rally has no concept of "laps" (in the arcade version at least) - each track is treated as a linear journey from a defined beginning to a defined end (although in reality, all tracks are circular, so the beginning is the end). There are computer players which need to be avoided, with the overall aim of finishing in first place at the end of third course. The positions are carried through to each track, so if a user finishes in 10th on the first track, he or she will start in 10th place on the second. Opponent cars are not covered by the same strict rules - they exist solely to provide an extra layer of challenge to the game.
Sega Rally is notable for being the first racing game to allow players to drive on different surfaces, including including asphalt, gravel and mud. Each surface has different friction properties which adjust the car's handling accordingly. Prior to Sega Rally's release, racing games often took a more simplified approach to differing surface types - grass for example might simply reduce the top speed of the car, not affect handling, leading to unrealistic results. These features allow Sega Rally to stand out as a true "rally" game, a sport very much dictated by road surfaces, rather than a generic racing game with rally-esque settings.
To add to the simulation in an arcade environment, the sit-down versions of Sega Rally use two motion devices (versus the one seen in Daytona USA), and the seat is vibrated by sound waves.
As is standard for rallying, an unseen co-driver issues instructions for the road ahead, although it would not be until Sega Rally 2 when distances would be mentioned. The computer controlled AI cars are not as aggressive as seen in Daytona USA - they instead aim to take the best possible racing line at all times to deny the player of valuable seconds.
Only three cars exist in the first Sega Rally, two by Italian car manufacturer Lancia and one by the Japanese firm Toyota. All three are based on Group A models seen in the World Rally Championship, although there are some minor differences in regards to paintwork and sponsors.
Toyota Celica CT-Four
The Toyota Celica CT-Four (ST205) was launched in February 1994 and stands as the newest of the cars on offer in Sega Rally. It is perhaps the token Japanese car, and was likely included because the ST205 was new at the time , as this model did not win any World Rally Championships (though did win the 39ème Tour de Corse during the 1995 season). Older models of the car, the ST185 and ST165 were more successful (the ST165 winning the 1990 WRC).
Curiously the Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD, a very different looking car with more titles to its name is absent from this game (despite being built by the same company). The Celica Turbo 4WD won the WRC for drivers in 1992, 1993 and 1994 as well as the WRC for constructors in 1993 and 1994.
Lancia Delta HF Integrale
The Lancia Delta HF Integrale, won the WRC constructors award in 1992, and is the follow-up to other award winning members of its family, the Lancia Delta HF 4WD (champions in 1987), Lancia Delta Integrale (champions in 1988 and 1989) and Lancia Delta Integrale 16V (champions in 1991, constructors champions in 1990). The Delta and its derivatives dominated rallying in the years before Sega Rally's release, and the Lancia badge is perhaps best associated with this motorsport.
Lancia Stratos HF
The Lancia Stratos HF is the "hidden" car in the original Sega Rally, although featured predominantly in Sega Rally 2 and in most Sega Rally games since. It is the oldest car of the trio, though is a iconic vehicle in rallying after winning the WRC in 1974, 1975 and 1976 (and the driver's championship in 1977). The Statos is the most powerful car in-game but comes with the price of floatier handling (attributed to the fact that it is two-wheel drive, not four).
The Statros is unlocked by finishing first on the Lakeside track in the Saturn version, or by inputting the code on the mode selection screen. In the arcade it needs to be unlocked by placing the gear stick into neutral and holding break, inserting a coin, and pressing the view buttons in order on the menu until a sound effect is heard.
Surprisingly this is not the first time the Lancia Stratos was playable in a Sega game - Safari Race for the SG-1000 contains both Lancia Stratoses and Audi Quattros.
As is standard for many Sega racing games, both automatic and manual transmission variants of all three cars exist, with the manual car generally being faster.
Alright! Let's watch your run one more time on the desert course.
Desert, perhaps the most iconic of all Sega Rally tracks, is a relatively simple dirt/mud circuit with easy turns and a couple of jumps. It also features a helicopter.
Well, you're gonna see your excellent run one more time. Cool breeze, birds and clouds. Relax and enjoy...
Forest ramps up the challenge with a few tight turns. Part of the track takes place on mud, while others take place on the faster road surface. Forest is inspired by the Tour de Corse rally, driven on the French island of Corsica.
Let's watch. The key to victory on this cool course is patience. But, as you know, only patience is not enough to win.
Mountain is the hardest track, with no off-road sections (aside from embankments), many turns and narrow roads, leaving little room for error. It is not based on any WRC track, instead being inspired by roads seen at the Yosemite National Park in the US state of California.
If you have to drive only one course for the rest of your life, this is the one. Is this heaven? Yeah...
Lakeside is a bonus course that can be played after finishing the previous courses in first place.
The game sold 12,000 hardware units in the arcades, and 1.2 million software units for the Saturn.
Following the arcade release, plans were put in place to bring the game in an enhanced form to the Sega Saturn. Marketed as a killer app for the system, the Saturn version arrived in late 1995/early 1996 to critical acclaim, and is often regarded as one of the system's best racing games. In the lead up to its launch, the game sponsored Yoshio Fujimoto's Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD ST185 at the 1995 Safari Rally.
The Saturn release retains all the features of the arcade version, although due to the Saturn being less powerful than the Model 2 arcade board, significant cuts were made to graphics, namely polygon counts, texture quality, draw distance and screen resolutions. To compensate, the Saturn Sega Rally has a full redbook audio soundtrack created by Naofumi Hataya. Also missing is the arcade version's force feedback (which was to be expected for the time) and the rear view mirror.
As well as retaining the arcade mode and its original rules, the Saturn version contains a time attack mode in which you can race across multiple laps against a player ghost, as well as a split-screen two-player mode with similar track options. The primary difference is the ability to create and use customised variants of the Celica and Delta, with added adjustments for handling, tyres, front and back suspension, and even the blow-off valve to give the car a different noise when moving. The Saturn version also keeps a more detailed record of lap times and statistics of that nature. There is also a two-player cooperative mode.
The Saturn version was converted by Sega of Japan's CS Team, under guidance from Sega AM3. The differences in architecture mean the game was almost completely remade for Saturn hardwareThere are minor differences between regions - generally the US version has fewer graphical details than its Japanese and European counterparts, and its replay mode has fewer camera angles. All versions are compatible with the Arcade Racer Joystick.
In the UK, Sega Rally was the fasted selling CD game in history, beating Destruction Derby's record by 10% (although conflicting reports suggest the PlayStation version of FIFA Soccer 96 held the record prior. It represented 74% of all UK Saturn titles sold in its week of launch, and 13% of the full CD software total. Sega also released a press kit marking the game's release, complete with novelty tax disc telling car owners to "Play, don't pay!". Andy Mee calculated that if every UK car owner took this advice, the UK government would lose £3 billion, but traffic congestion and air quality would be improved.
1997 saw a PC release of Sega Rally, appropriately titled Sega Rally Championship PC. This version shares the same feature set as the Saturn version although sports superior graphics and network play.
An very rare variant of the PC version, distributed with Righteous 3D video cards (by Orchid) exists with added Direct3D support. The added 3D hardware acceleration provided by this port allows for superior graphics and frame rates, although as textures were not replaced, it is still on the whole less detailed than the Model 2 version.
PlayStation 2 version
A version for the PlayStation 2 was bundled as a box set with Sega Rally 2006 in Japan and Asia. This is a straight port of the Model 2 version with some adjustments for the PlayStation 2 hardawre. Only the arcade mode is available and extra settings of the Saturn and PC versions are absent, however it is currently the most accurate home port of the game available.