Easily among the oldest genres of video games out there, racing games are compelling because they are both immediately understandable and accessible. Sure, some titles go for a more complicated style of gameplay than others, but the basic gist of it all remains the same.
Whether it is the motorcycle beat ‘em up from Sega, Road Rash, or Mario Kart with a “twist” in the form of Twisted Metal, racing games don’t have to involve finishing in first place or driving around a track very fast. Indeed, they can pretty much utilize any mechanism that makes sense.
But before racing games got really creative they were pretty much in the same milieu as those that came before. These varieties began to take two primary forms as consoles wore on: Mario Kart clones and straight-up arcade racers. Arcade racers largely began to die out with the arrival of Gran Turismo and then, later, the advent of the Forza series – a title that does a great job at combining the insanity of an arcade racer with the depth of a hardcore sim. Prior to that, however, arcade racers were the mainstay of the genre.
Think Ridge Racer and Daytona USA, for starters. Though there are many, many others (as you shall soon see).
In this article we’re going to discuss racing games before the PS2. This means that any title that came out before Gran Turismo really change the genre up could be on this list – if it is obscure. You see, we all know the “best” and most famous racers out there, but what about the also-rans or the franchises that don’t receive enough love in the modern gaming press.
Here are our 10 underrated racing games from before the era of Gran Turismo and Forza’s dominance:
10. Burnout

Burnout, arriving in 2000, is a classic