Developer(s) – Atari Games, Midway Games & Climax
Publisher(s) – Atari Games & Midway Games
Designer – Ed Logg
ESRB – KA
Originally released as an arcade game back in 1996, San Francisco Rush was a generic racing game similar to the likes of Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer, that especially at the time, could never measure up to the quality of the many kart racing games that had already been released. Although I do have to say as a prerequisite that I spent a fair bit of time playing this game when I was growing up, I look back at it now and think that it scarcely hold up.
Graphics – 5/10
The best thing I can say about the game’s visuals is that they were pretty advanced for the time, and a lot of the textural details that were incorporated were very well handled. The problem is that because it is part of a genre that has borne witness to many shovelware titles, even since the days of the Atari, it is never going to stand out among the others to any kind of extent; not to mention that there are glitches galore. It may be pretty advanced for the time, but for the most part, extremely unpolished.
Gameplay – 3/10
The game consists of eight selectable vehicles and four selectable tracks depending on a selected difficulty, and simply race across for either the best time or first position. Otherwise, there isn’t much else to it. Since it was originally designed as a pay-to-play arcade cabinet, there is a very limited amount of options in terms of variety, and consequently, it turns out to be even worse on consoles. Disappointingly, the only other option available to players is the facility to change their car’s color.
Controls – 4/10
The main issue I have with the game’s control scheme is that turning corners, no matter how sharp or straight they may be, can feel like a chore for the most part. To make matters worse, certain turns were added to certain tracks that are almost impossible to try to traverse without crashing and having to reset the player’s own position.
Originality – 0/10
Not only does this game not stand out in terms of visuals, as I pointed out earlier, but there is actually considerably less variety in this game than there was even in other games of its kind around at the time. Later on, games such as Gran Turismo would be released, which would blow games like this out of the water, but for the time being, it was either Mario Kart, which was infinitely more fun, or a generic racer. To me, nothing has really changed since then, since I care very little for modern generic racers that are released even today, such as Forza or Driver, but for me, this game definitely began my distaste for the genre.
To summarize, the biggest redeeming quality of San Francisco Rush is not in its gameplay or visuals, but in the pretty funny music that plays whilst players register their high score. It’s the only element present, which works to differentiate it from other generic racing games, and in all honesty, it was most probably the only thing keeping me at the table like a bad gambler when I was a kid.