SAN FRANCISCO RUSH 2049
As my Dreamcast slowly but surely nears towards its final breath (*sob*), I did manage to recently revisit one of my favourite games on the console.
A racing game called San Francisco Rush 2049.
I wasn’t particularly a racing game fanatic growing up but I did have my favourites including Street Racer, Mario Kart and Out Run. I also played way too much Daytona USA for some reason. I became aware of San Francisco Rush 2049 through a demo which came with the Official Dreamcast Magazine, a demo I played to death.
Set in the utopian (yet bizarrely empty) Futurama-esque future of 2049, a group of people are racing an uneven selection of cars through the neon-lit streets of San Francisco and it is all kinds of awesome.
Why San Francisco?
Why the future?
Why are you racing?
Because 75 space tarantulas, all called “Jeff,” have landed on the Golden Gate Bridge and are planning to take over the city UNLESS random cars seemingly driven by no-one mindlessly race along sinuous tracks as fast as possible.
I may have made most of that up.
My point still stands, though: Jeff spiders are bad news.
I had never heard of the “Rush” franchise, I just knew this particular game looked cool and was fun to play so I promptly purchased the full game.
Selecting a track was fun in itself as the game offered you various options to personalise your race from mirroring the track to adding more wind or fog for more of a challenge or simply a more atmospheric race.
Thinking about it now, it would have amazing to have lots and lots of track options like fire, earthquakes, tornadoes, raining frogs, Godzilla… you get the idea. You could have slowly but surely unlocked those by completing races under a certain time, for example.
Just a thought.
You could personalize the cars, to a certain extent. Unfortunately, it’s not like the Need For Speed games where you can build your vehicle from the ground up, but you could specify how you wanted that car to drive at least.
Incidentally, I would never pick the Formula 1 car based on the strange logic that I already had an F1 game (Super Monaco GP on the Genesis).
Now there are many things about this game which make it pretty irresistible. For one thing, the tracks are packed with secret roads and hard-to-reach pickups which means that you’re not only racing, you’re racing with a mad purpose! To go through the craziest, most dangerous roads, including roads that don’t even look like roads, when there’s a perfectly good track all laid out for you.
You can drive over buttons which open walls you would otherwise crash into, drive on transparent glass paths overlooking the whole city and fellow racers. It’s pretty creative. Especially when playing a “Ghost Race” where you can race the shadow of your earlier self because then you can just go a different route every time and mix it up.
I mentioned crashing and that’s the price you often have to pay for testing out a certain unconventional route. Of course, you can always turn deaths off but where’s the reality in that?
That’s reality right there: go off-road, prepare for the worst.
It is really cool, though, when you finally get good at the game and find yourself racing through ungodly tunnels and flying down the hilly roads of San Francisco effortlessly.
Oh, did I mention the cars can fly?
Told you this game was great!
Ok so the cars don’t exactly fly like spaceships or anything, you’re still racing along the main general track, but the fact that your car can, while in mid-air, sprout wings and perform wacky spins in all directions remains a delicious addition to the gameplay. Again, however, you may find that your cockiness backfires and lands you in trouble, literally.
There are many more ways to have a great time with this game, including Stunt Races which encourage you to go nuts, a multiplayer option and a track that’s basically a circle of death.
Think of San Francisco Rush 2049 like a unique cross between F-Zero and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater that somehow works really well. The controls are smooth, the music is, sadly not Rush, but still effective, while the graphics are slick and colourful.
You can find the game on the Arcade, the N64 and the Dreamcast and I highly recommend you give it a go. There’s also a Game Boy Color port but… calling it misguided is being kind. For a Dreamcast owner, San Francisco Rush 2049 is nostalgic gold so turning it into an inferior version of R.C. Pro-Am is missing the point, to say the least.