Coronavirus has caused disruption to everything and everyone it has come into close contact with. NASCAR is no different. The sport is starting to make a comeback at Darlington.
It’s not all bad news though with reports that video game NASCAR Heat 5 is coming in July with bonus content to boot.
That announcement has served as our inspiration here as we look back at five of the best NASCAR games of all time.
Number 5. Richard Petty’s Talladega
Given that Petty retired in 1992 with seven Championships under his belt it’s probably a fair assumption to make that this 1982 game doesn’t feature high up his list of achievements. For a whole generation though it was as memorable as anything he did on the track. Never before had NASCAR made an appearance in video game form.
Even if it was in 8-bit format, households became obsessed with the buzz of maintaining fuel performance and avoiding blowouts to become the fictional King.
Number 4. NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup
If there is one thing this game got wrong it’s the title. The tag line ‘chase for the cup’ was born after the real life NASCAR used the phrase to describe the season finale but the game is far from just an ending. In fact, it was more of a beginning for EA Sports in NASCAR gaming.
The cover picture showed Kevin Harvick whilst the late, great Dale Earnhardt Sr featured in the game but really, the lasting memory for most, is defying the odds to go from a nobody to Championship hero in the ‘Fight to the top’ mode, which was later replicated on other sports games released by EA such was its popularity.
Number 3. NASCAR Kart Racing
The words Nintendo Wii and racing would conjure up images of Mario Kart for most people. Ask a NASCAR gaming fan though and this one – NASCAR Kart Racing – will definitely come up first. It boasts some real life drivers, who have of course been given a Mii style makeover, but the racing is far from lifelike. That doesn’t mean it’s bad though.
The gameplay is similar to that of a Mario Kart game with things such as boosts and the ability to impede your fellow racers – all of which come with a NASCAR twist of course. At the time of launch, critics were on the fence but it was well received and is now deemed the best NASCAR game the Wii ever saw.
Number 2. NASCAR Dirt to Daytona
As a kid, the excitement that runs through you when custom making your character for a game is an odd yet amazing feeling. That’s the starting point for this 2002 games most popular mode – career – which allows you to go on a whopping 30-year journey. That’s not the only thing going for this game though.
The graphics were, for the time, top of the range and the handling of the vehicles was much improved on previous games to the point where you’d actually notice a real difference when switching between the wide array of cars ensuring a realistic and enjoyable experience for the player.
Number 1. Daytona USA
Here is a game that stands alone on our list as the only true arcade game to make the cut. If you gave a child of today a game with just three tracks then they’d likely mock you before asking how to download more. Yet this machine still has a pull, even today.
Assuming you’re not lucky enough to own one, just find an arcade, drop in your coins and set about beating the competition to keep those time extensions rolling in. Keep doing that and you’ll soon get a crowd of people gathered to cheer you on. Who needs lifelike graphics when you’ve got the thrill of the race, like a horse debuting on the Kentucky Derby?
There you have it, five times NASCAR provided on track entertainment in homes and arcades across the world. How will Heat 5 stack up?
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