Namco’s beloved Ridge Racer sequence noticed its first entry in 1993, the fruits of years growing lesser-known arcade driving cupboards. The game noticed enormous success, as a part of which Namco designed a super-deluxe model that featured a full-scale automobile that managed a model of the game performed on an unlimited display. It was so large, and so particular, that few have been ever put in, even fewer survive: and one of many final recognized remaining examples had, after operating for many years, seemingly been left to rust and decay in Blackpool.

Way more element on these predecessor cupboards and the street to Ridge Racer might be learn on the superb Arcade Blogger. The showpiece cupboard was known as Ridge Racer Full Scale, where gamers sat inside a crimson Eunos Roadster chassis and managed the identical automobile on-screen, naturally utilizing the in-car wheel, gear stick and pedals. You even used the ignition key to begin it up, and fidgeting with the automobile’s devices mirrored what was occurring in-game. In entrance of the automobile is a ten foot broad triple display, and as you play followers blast air and in-built audio system play the engine noises and background music. The Ridge Racer Full Scale was an absolute beast, with a $250,000 price ticket to match.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t see broad distribution. The game was so uncommon that Namco’s engineers must journey to their prospects and design every cupboard for the house out there: that’s, no two variations of Ridge Racer Full Scale have been the identical. The customisation was such that Namco would add the arcade operator’s title and brand to the title display.

The cupboard might be seen in motion right here.

Nobody is aware of precisely what number of of those machines have been offered, primarily as a result of many have been destroyed on the finish of their useful life. One of many solely operational Full Scale machines remaining, till just lately, may very well be discovered within the UK metropolis of Blackpool. Right here is one James Newman, who additionally kindly gave us permission to make use of his pictures of the cupboard, displaying off some critical abilities.

This cupboard required an engineer devoted to preserving it operating however, sooner or later after Newman’s go to above, pictures started to flow into amongst fans displaying the setup had been shut down and appeared deserted. Enquiries have been made as to buying it: no sale, mentioned the arcade. Arcade Blogger’s Tony Temple causes that that is most likely the final operational Ridge Racer Full Scale on the earth.

Someday in 2020, a person tried to accumulate the setup, with the intention of donating it to the Nationwide Videogame Museum in Sheffield. An settlement was arrived at, and it appeared that issues would go nicely: there have been new pictures, this time displaying the construction being dismantled and loaded onto a truck. There did look like some injury, such because the automobile’s smashed windscreen, however nothing unrecoverable.

Sadly, after this, the factor gave the impression to be saved in numerous locations, together with a storage and outside. The Nationwide Videogame Museum appeared to know little in regards to the deal for it to tackle the cupboard and added “So far as we’ve been instructed, there was some latest water injury to the unit, which could make it not possible”.

Ridge Racer Full Scale in action.

(Picture credit score: Jason Newman)

It later mentioned it hadn’t been contacted earlier than the acquisition and, due to its present situation and storage implications, it might not be accepting the cupboard.

The purchaser, at this level, went darkish. “Extremely, the final remaining Ridge Racer Full Scale appeared to have been left to rot,” writes Temple. “And even worse, among the most important framework, allegedly had gone to scrap, now ruined by the components.”

One other arcade collector with appreciable restoration expertise provides that “The game code is about 8 chips away from saveable although, which additionally makes it maddening”.

Issues received much more weird, when somebody new appeared within the arcade neighborhood claiming they’d simply moved right into a home and located components of the construction within the storage. There was some hypothesis this was the purchaser, in an try to avoid wasting face.

This story, ultimately, has had one thing of a contented ending.

“After a lot confusion, dialogue and forwards and backwards with the ‘new’ proprietor, I’m happy to report that earlier this yr, the stays of the Ridge Racer Full Scale cupboard have been collected, together with the shell of the MX5,” writes Temple. The {hardware} is essentially intact, although the bodily construction just isn’t and is believed to have been scrapped. The cupboard is now with a member of the UK’s arcade neighborhood who has the intention and sources to rebuild and get it operational once more.

Whereas the Ridge Racer sequence has been dormant for the previous 10 years, its legacy is critical. It was one of many large sequence of the ’90s, an important game in arcade and racing historical past, and liked by tens of millions of gamers all around the world. If this story exhibits something, it is how even probably the most cherished and distinctive video games can undergo the neglect of time and, in terms of arcade {hardware} particularly, are susceptible to disappearing eternally. Who is aware of, there might be one other operational Ridge Racer Full Scale on the market, however in the intervening time this appears to be the one prospect of preserving part of arcade historical past alive: and what a bombastic, over-the-top, cute half it’s.

The game’s ROMs have now been dumped and it may be run in emulation. This can be a work-in-progress although the intent is ultimately to make it public.

Let’s elevate a glass, then, to the avid gamers who cared sufficient about this a part of historical past to go on the market and do one thing about it. Who persevered by means of this weird possession kerfuffle, saved asking questions, who noticed rust rising on this factor and decided they’d save such an excellent object from that ignominious finish: and did.

Because of Tony Temple for documenting this story: you may try a podcast he works on right here, which interviews golden age videogame greats, and he is additionally written a ebook on Missile Command.