Virtua Racing

From Sega Retro


Virtua Racing Title.png
Virtua Racing
System(s): Sega Model 1, Sega Mega Drive
Publisher: Sega
Sound driver:
Sega Mega Drive
SMPS Z80 (banked)
Peripherals supported:
Sega Mega Drive
Six Button Control Pad
Genre: Racing

Number of players: 1-2,
Release Date RRP Code
Arcade (Model 1)
¥? ?
Arcade (Model 1)
$? ?
Arcade (Model 1)
£? ?

Sega Mega Drive
¥9,8009,800 G-7001
Sega Mega Drive
$99.9599.95[3] 1229
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive

Virtua Racing (バーチャレーシング) is an arcade racing game developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega in 1992. Virtua Racing was the first game released for the Sega Model 1 arcade platform, and also the first to use the name "Virtua" in its title (something which would be followed by numerous Sega arcade games, including Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop and Virtua Tennis. It was a milestone in 3D graphics and the racing genre, and acts as a foundation for most modern racing games. It was ported to the Mega Drive (with the Sega Virtua Processor chip on the cartridge), 32X, and Saturn.


Virtua Racing is a 3D racing game, where players drive formula one-esque cars around one of three tracks against 15 other vehicles (either computer or player controlled). Like earlier Sega games, it is time-limited, with checkpoints dotted around the track to extend play.

The game was Sega's first foray into 3D graphics, following over a decade's worth of pseudo-3D offerings (starting with Turbo) with 2D sprites scaling in real time. Almost everything in Virtua Racing is rendered with flat-shaded quadrilateral polygons, which means track designs are more complex than in prior Sega racers. The physics model, however, is not dissimilar to earlier games such as Power Drift - it is impossible to destroy your car, and the only penalty for driving off-road is a significant speed decrease.

Crashing into an obstacle or opponent at a high speed causes one of two animations to play out, both of which simply slow progress for a short period of time (that is to say, the angles and forces of impact have very little bearing on the result of a crash). Crashing will also force the vehicle to face forward, so while it is fully possible to turn 180 degrees and drive in the opposite direction (unlike many previous Sega outings), the game makes every attempt to stop you from doing so. The simplified collision also means it is impossible to run over your pit crew (although you can still drive through them).

In multiplayer modes, Virtua Racing implements a crude "rubber banding" system, in which cars behind the leader have better performance.[9] Every player drives an identical car, save for differences in colour scheme.

Virtua Racing features multiple camera angles which can be selected on the cabinet itself. It also has a seven speed manual mode, the "manual" car being faster than its "automatic" counterpart if driven correctly.

Unlike Sega arcade games both before and since, Virtua Racing is very light on music, with only one of a dozen jingles playing each time the player crosses a checkpoint. Unusually for the era, cabinets also support 16:9 widescreen displays - originally intended for the "deluxe" model, this gives the player a more expanded look of the playfield (although the internal resolution of the game remains the same).


The original release of Virtua Racing has the player race around three different tracks divided into difficulty:

VirtuaRacing BigForest.png
Big Forest
"Beginner" track.
VirtuaRacing BayBridge.png
Bay Bridge
"Medium" track.
VirtuaRacing Acropolis.png
"Expert" track



Main article: Virtua Racing/Development.


The game was a commercial success in the arcades. In North America, RePlay's coin-op charts in April 1993 listed Virtua Racing as the highest-earning deluxe video game arcade cabinet.[10] It remained the highest-earning deluxe cabinet in the May 1993 charts.[11]

The hardware was revolutionary at the time of release, but Virtua Racing was later outclassed by its successor, the Sega Model 2 board, which debuted towards the end of 1993. There are no textured polygons in Virtua Racing, as Model 1 did not support them in hardware. There is one vehicle, and when linked together it is offered in several colours, but the stats never vary. Crashing slows the car down, but there is no damage model. There are differing surface types, with anything not on-road slowing the car down, but it does not affect handling, which would be pioneered by Sega Rally Championship several years later.

There are a few music tracks: during races, and jingles of several seconds play as the user crosses checkpoints and the goal line for laps; this is likely stylistic.

Virtua Racing was succeeded by its logical successor, Daytona USA, which brought the genre further forward. It would also take home systems several years to "catch up" to Virtua Racing in terms of 3D resolution and polygon counts.


Virtua Racing was available to arcade operators as single or twin cabinets. Four of the twin units can be linked up to create an eight-player experience.

Virtua Formula

Main article: Virtua Formula.

Special "medium sized" attractions, usually only seen at SegaWorlds or other Sega-themed amusement parks, adapt the eight-player setup of Virtua Racing and upgrade the cabinets, creating Virtua Formula.

Mega Drive version

See Sega Virtua Processor for details on cartridge chip

Virtua Racing was an arcade success, and though expected to avoid home consoles for quite some time due to the complexity of the Model 1 arcade board, saw an initially surprising port to the Sega Mega Drive in 1994. The Mega Drive version utilizes a custom made Sega Virtua Processor (SVP) chip, allowing the game to render significantly more polygons than the Super FX chip within Star Fox for the Super NES, as the SVP is a great deal more powerful than the Super FX. The Mega Drive port is surprisingly accurate.

Though the Mega Drive Virtua Racing is one of the more technically advanced Mega Drive games in the library, the unusual specifications of the cart mean that it is often one of the first games to not be supported by cost-reduced hardware (for example, it won't work with the Genesis 3). The Mega Drive version also takes a hit in terms of graphics and sound, displaying fewer polygons at a smaller resolution with a restricted palette and lower frame rate (around 15FPS, as opposed to the arcade's 60FPS (but double that of the Super FX-powered StarFox and Stunt Race FX on the Super NES)). However, it and all of the other home ports include two-player modes, time trials and options usually only available to arcade operators.

32X version

Main article: Virtua Racing Deluxe.

Mere months later, Virtua Racing was released as a launch title for the Sega 32X, in the form of Virtua Racing Deluxe. Deluxe adds two extra tracks and due to the increased power of the 32X, has a greater resemblance to the Model 1 release.

Saturn version

Main article: Time Warner Interactive's VR Virtua Racing.

A Sega Saturn version of the game, officially titled Time Warner Interactive's VR Virtua Racing was brought to the console by Time Warner Interactive in 1995, sporting seven extra courses (on top of the three arcade tracks), four new cars and a grand prix mode among other additions.

Virtua Racing -FlatOut-

Main article: Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol.8: Virtua Racing -FlatOut-.

More recently, the game has been released as Virtua Racing -FlatOut-, part of the Sega Ages 2500 series on the PlayStation 2. This version includes an extra three new courses and four new cars to the Model 1 version.

Sega VR version

A version of the game was also planned for the Sega VR, a virtual reality headset accessory for the Mega Drive/Genesis that was planned to release in fall 1993. (Electronic Gaming Monthly, Video Game Preview Guide, 1993) However, the game, along with the accessory, was later cancelled.

Production credits

Arcade version

Mega Drive version

Magazine articles

Main article: Virtua Racing/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Main article: Virtua Racing/Promotional material.


Photo gallery

Physical scans

Model 1 version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
90 [12]
90 [13]
Based on
2 reviews

Model 1, US (upright)
Model 1, US (twin)
Model 1, US (deluxe)
Model 1, JP (upright)
Model 1, JP (twin)
Model 1, JP (deluxe)
Model 1, UK (twin)
VirtuaRacing Model1 UK Manual Twin.pdf

Mega Drive version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
88 [14]
86 [15]
94 [16]
79 [17]
84 [18]
80 [19]
100 №57, p84
78 [20]
83 №275, [1]
90 №0207, p24/41-43
90 [21]
89 №17, p32-34
90 №1994-04, p61
96 [22]
96 [23]
92 [24]
88 [25]
92 №22
92 [26]
88 [27]
92 №10, p42
93 №29, p32-37
90 [28]
99 [29]
91 №54, p34-36
89 №32, p44-45
92 [30]
96 [31]
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
29 reviews

Mega Drive, US
Virtrac md us cover.jpg
Virtrac md us cart.jpg
Virtuaracing md us manual.pdf
Mega Drive, EU
Virtrac md eu cover.jpg
Virtua Racing MD EU Cart Back.jpgVirtua Racing MD EU Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, GR
Virtrac md GR cover.jpg
Virtua Racing MD EU Cart Back.jpgVirtua Racing MD EU Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, JP
Virtrac md jp cover.jpg
VirtuaRacing MD JP CartTop.jpg
Virtua Racing MD JP Cart Back.jpgVirtua Racing MD JP Cart.jpg
VirtuaRacing MD jp manual.pdf
Mega Drive, BR
VirtuaRacing MD BR Box.jpg
VirtuaRacing MD BR Cart.jpg
Virtuaracing md br manual.pdf
Mega Drive, KR
VirtuaRacing MD KR cover.jpg
VirtuaRacing MD KR cart.jpg
Mega Drive, Asia
Virtua Racing MD Asia Cover.jpg
VirtuaRacing MD AS cart.jpg
Mega Drive, SG/MY/BN
Virtrac md SG MY BN cover.jpg
Mega Drive, SE (rental)
VirtuaRacing MD SE Box Rental.jpg
Mega Drive, SE (Rental; alt)

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
28.3MB Virtua Racing
28.4MB Virtua Formula
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 7e1a324a
MD5 3d4e16e2743d453f206b1c305b12cd27
SHA-1 ff969ae53120cc4e7cb1a8a7e47458f2eb8a2165
2MB 1993-12 Cartridge (US)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 9624d4ef
MD5 f77b8ea51b161c0e2fa9a9caef3ea491
SHA-1 2c3812f8a010571e51269a33a989598787d27c2d
2MB 1993-12 Cartridge (EU)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 53a293b5
MD5 ca12f83dbeb44a134062a1f444e4a90a
SHA-1 0ad38a3ab1cc99edac72184f8ae420e13df5cac6
2MB 1993-12 Cartridge (JP)


  1. File:Sega Arcade History JP EnterBrain Book-1.pdf, page 125
  2. GamePro, "April 1994" (US; 1994-xx-xx), page 76
  3. GamePro, "April 1994" (US; 1994-xx-xx), page 160
  4. Computer & Video Games, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-04-15), page 50
  5. Sega Power, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-xx-xx), page 29
  6. Computer & Video Games, "December 1994" (UK; 1994-11-15), page 134
  7. Sega Power, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-xx-xx), page 28
  8. SuperGamePower, "Maio 1994" (BR; 1994-xx-xx), page 11
  9. File:GameOn US 06.pdf, page 10
  10. Electronic Games (1992-1995), "June 1993" (US; 1993-05-11), page 14
  11. File:ElectronicGames2 US 10.pdf, page 14
  12. Computer & Video Games, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-15), page 86
  13. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "November 1992" (US; 1992-xx-xx), page 54
  14. Beep! MegaDrive, "April 1994" (JP; 1994-03-08), page 17 (19)
  15. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 83 (85)
  16. Consoles +, "Juin 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 159
  17. Computer & Video Games, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-04-15), page 50-52 (50)
  18. Computer & Video Games, "July 1994" (UK; 1994-06-15), page 107-108/111 (107)
  19. Edge, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-03-31), page 82-84 (82)
  20. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "June 1994" (US; 1994-xx-xx), page 33
  21. GamePro, "June 1994" (US; 1994-xx-xx), page 36-38 (38)
  22. Joypad, "Avril 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 126-127 (126)
  23. Joypad, "Mai 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 60-65 (60)
  24. Hobby Consolas, "Junio 1994" (ES; 1994-xx-xx), page 60-63 (60)
  25. MAN!AC, "05/94" (DE; 1994-04-xx), page 36
  26. Mega, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-17), page 22-25 (22)
  27. Mega Fun, "04/94" (DE; 1994-03-23), page 44-45 (44)
  28. Mean Machines Sega, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-03-xx), page 48-52 (49)
  29. Player One, "Mai 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 52-55 (52)
  30. Sega Force, "3/94" (SE; 1994-03-29), page 18-19 (18)
  31. SuperGamePower, "Maio 1994" (BR; 1994-xx-xx), page 34-35 (34)

Virtua Racing
Virtua Racing Title.png

Main page | Comparisons | Hidden content | Development | Magazine articles | Reception | Promotional material | Region coding

Books: Virtua Racing Hisshou Kouryaku Hou (1994) | Virtua Racing: Official Racing Guide (1994)
Videos: Virtua Racing: Virtua Video (199x)

Virtua Racing series of games
Virtua Racing (1992) | Virtua Formula (1993)
Sega Mega Drive
Virtua Racing (1994)
Sega 32X
Virtua Racing Deluxe (1994)
Sega Saturn
Time Warner Interactive's VR Virtua Racing (1995)
Sony PlayStation 2
Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 8: Virtua Racing FlatOut (2004)
Nintendo Switch
Sega Ages Virtua Racing (2019)
Virtua Racing related media
Virtua Racing & OutRunners (1993) | Yu Suzuki Produce G-LOC/R360/Virtua Racing (1998)
Virtua Racing: Official Racing Guide (1994) | Virtua Racing Hisshou Kouryaku-hou (199x)