Widely considered to be the best in the Ridge Racer series, its soundtrack and the opening FMV are defiantly most memorable. This would be the last Ridge Racer game released for the original PlayStation.
The game improves on the mechanics from Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, complete with eight brand new tracks and a soundtrack that’s a complete departure from the drum & bass themes from the previous instalment. Graphics-wise the game sees a shift that pushes the PlayStation hardware to the extreme, thanks to the use of Gouraud shading that gives a shade of depth to the polygons, giving the game a realistic appearance.
To keep a stable 30FPS, which was the game’s target framerate, certain changes are made to the enemy opponents, where you only have up to 4 cars on screen at the same time, of which the AI-controlled cars are more spread out across the track. In contrast to the early titles where you will pass multiple cars in the same area, in R4 the opponents feel spaced out and you pass by them in a linear fashion.
There is a story mode of some sort, you can choose from four teams that will have their own unique manager representing the company. Here you have a direct dialog that gives more detail into the backstory of the teams and how they tie into the Ridge Racer Grand Prix. After every race you will have a meeting with them and their dialog is dependent on how you perform (which place you finish in). There is no dialogue for when you lose or fail to qualify, as the game will prompt you to retry or will go straight to a game over screen.
The team choice will also affect the ending epilogue (although on some emulators there is a bug that causes only the MMM epilogue to play)
Four teams come with Ridge Racer Type 4, all of which are some reference to another Namco arcade game franchise.
Micro Mouse Mappy: A French racing team led by Sophie Chevalier. The easiest team in the game which is recommended for new players.
R.T.S: Lead by Enki Gilbert, He starts off as a perfectionist, expecting you to come in first place in every race but eventually softens u after learning of the Pac Racing Club’s entry. Its implied the manager looks to the player as a second son, due to his actual son being involved in an accident that cost him his life. Towards the end he wants the player to take the race easy, fearing history could repeat again like the death of his son.
Dig Racing Team: My favorite team since I like the underdog teams, They’re a struggling team that is under budget and as a result will enable to provide fast cars from a majority of the races, meaning you will need to rely on skill in order to get ahead of the competition.
Pac Racing Club: Lead by Shinji Yazaki, seems to only care about the results of the race, but will open up over time about a past Gran Prix where Enki’s son died during a race in which he was involved in.
There are lots of cars included in the game, over 320 in fact. Many of these are unlocked by beating the Grand Prix modes across various teams and car manufacturers.
Garage cars are the cars you unlock during the Grand Prix events and can come from four manufacturers, across four different teams, giving 16 different design variations. However the game will reward you with a different car depending on your performance of the early events, ie, if you come 1st 2nd or 3rd during the first heat, will influence the type of upgrades you have, which the game counts as an additional car. Therefore in order to unlock all cars, you have to play the Grand Prix with the same manufacturer/team combo several times, coming deliberately in 3rd/2nd and 1st place for each run.
The garage can only hold a limited amount of cars, and will you have to swap out locked cars in order to play them in time attack or link/multiplayer.
There are also a few preset cars that are already unlocked for use in time attack or for two-player mode, these are also in grip or drift varieties. These don’t seem to have any defined name, other than Preset G3, Preset D4, etc. Most players will refer to them by the color, which comes in (red, black/Grey, white or yellow)
And then you have the cars unlocked using the extra trials, you can only unlock these by winning a Grand Prix with a specific manufacturer, although the team does not matter much, except for the performance tuning.
- Helter Skelter: The first track you will probably play, set in Japan Yokohama and shares with Out Of Blue. A good track that serves as an introduction to the game’s drift mechanics and style. The song Pearl Blue Soul always plays on this course.
- Wonderhill: The second track that is played on a late spring afternoon that gives a sunset sky. This track shares with the Heaven and Hell track that appears later in the game. The music on this track can differ if you are racing with the RTS team (Revlimit Funk plays), otherwise Naked Glow will usually play, and it really suits this course
- Edge of the Earth: Set at night in an airport that leads into a small city, one of my favourite courses since you can go full speed, but also must be mindful of the courses.
- Out of Blue: In contrast to the previous track, this one is set very early in the morning and shared with Helter Skelter, with OOB separating into its own path, which features locations near a shipping dock. Some of the scenery here reminds me of the original Ridge Racer track. The corners on this track can be brutal, so make sure you are used to the car’s handling.
- Phantomile: It’s a very short course in comparison to the others, and the corners are rather savage. The Motor Species song always plays for this course. Also just so happens this race is set on the same day as my birthday.
- Brightest Nite: Another course set at night time, this one also shares with Edge of the Earth. This one is set later at night and features a huge drop towards the end of the tack
- Heaven and Hell: Shares with Heaven and hell, although it’s set earlier in the day which gives off a different feel of the track, being much brighter.
- Shooting Hoops: The last track to race and it’s a good and simple one, set at midnight of December 31st 1999 on the eve of the new millennium. The song Movin’ in Circles always plays for this track and on the last lap you can see fireworks being set off as the new millennium is upon us (Cue airplanes falling out of the sky due to the Y2K bug)
Vs and Link Battle
Link battle adds the ability to play with up to four different players, across two consoles. This is similar to how early titles handled multiplayer where two consoles are connected together using the official link cable, along with two displays and copies of the game.
If the game detects another console connected using the serial link cable, the link battle option will appear in the main menu. Sadly in PCSX-R whilst we are able to establish a link between two instances with a Linux Virtual machine (running Ubuntu & Pop_OS), the speed is incredibly slow and unplayable, and whilst we can navigate the link mode menus, the game will display an error message when we try to start the race.
The regular VS mode can also be accessed by having two controllers connected to the console, where the game plays in a split-screen mode allowing for both racers to race at the same time through one console. You can combine this with the link battle to have a total of four players in a single race, with two players per console.
The multitap is not supported here, only a maximum of two players per console.
Like in Rage Racer, a decal can be created and applied to your team’s car which can be any pattern. Here the PlayStation mouse is best used
The Namco NeGcon is fully supported for steering and acceleration, in addition to the DualShock analog sticks.
A visual blur effect can be applied when a race is being replayed, activated by pressing the L1 or R1 buttons.