Top Racer Collection Review – Racing Hasn’t Changed

Racing games have been around as long as gaming itself. All the way back in 1974, the genre began to establish itself as one to be revered and respected with games like Grand Prix. Fast forward to the 90’s, and the genre had long since become a staple in arcades. The home console front was no different, with games like Top Racer (known as Top Gear in the U.S.) seeing significant success. It laid the groundwork for what 3D-style racing games could be, inspiring the likes of Cruis’n’ USA.

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If you grew up in the U.S., this may be the version of the game you remember.

The first entry was released in 1992 on the SNES to overwhelmingly positive critical reception, and the series continued into the mid 2000‘s. After 2004, however, the series disappeared. At least that was the case, until now. 22 years after the series’ debut, Top Racer Collection brings the best of the series to modern players. It features the first three classic games alongside a new iteration titled Top Racer Crossroads.


The core of this game is as nostalgic as it gets. For those that grew up playing racing games in the arcade, you’ll feel right at home. For those who grew up on modern racers, you may find more joy in playing those games, as much as you may be able to appreciate this origin story. Between the 4 titles offered, there’s a decent amount to keep you entertained for a while. Each title has a campaign, versus, and time attack mode.

It is surprising how many little details existed for a racing game on the SNES.

The gameplay here is rather cut and dry, though. Each race is a high speed competition between you and several AI opponents. No matter the mode, you choose a car, pick a transmission style, choose a race/cup, and hit the road. Every mode isn’t too distinguishable between each other to warrant a deep dive, but they each have their own quirks. Little details like needing to manage fuel and even the option for manual transmission are nice, though.

For the most part, it feels like you’re playing the games on an emulator, complete with save states. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of racing games or the Top Racer series, you may not be very enthralled with this collection. That doesn’t mean the gameplay is completely lacking, it’s just niche. It has a specific audience in mind, and it makes sure to cater to them specifically.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are exactly what you’d expect from a classic pixelated game. The backgrounds are mostly static, moving slightly along x and y axis to illustrate inclines, declines, and turns. The graphics also don’t change much between games, with the only real changes being the background and vehicle designs, primarily in Top Racer 3000. Even the newly developed addition, Crossroads, looks quite similar to the others. However, calling it new is a stretch, as it’s basically a reskin of a previous title. In default settings, it’s all presented in a lower scaled screen within the screen, which can cause some complications of you aren’t playing on a decent sized television. While this can easily be adjusted in the game’s settings menu, anyone wanting to jump straight in may be put off at first.

The sound design is, well, 16 bit. It sounds as clean as possible coming through modern speakers, but that’s really about as far as it goes. The sound of the engines and constant loop of the music will honestly either grow on you, fill your brain with nostalgia, or break you down. I found myself having to take breaks while playing just to let my ears and mind rest a little. It wasn’t long until I personally started to get irritated by the repetitious sounds. It’s not the developers fault, though, as these are simply ports. I tried my hardest not to be too nitpicky, but by the end of my time with the game, I grew tired.


I’m sure that for long-time fans of this series, there’s a large amount of time they’re willing to devote to playing it. But for someone who has experience with 16 bit racers outside of this series, I don’t see myself playing it much outside of the occasional get-together. Still, when playing it with a friend for this review, we couldn’t play very long before it became tiring. So that statement may fall flat for some. Either way, the replayability is really subjective here.


Top Racer Collection will honestly carry you about as far as the nostalgia will. Once you’ve gotten your fill, you may break out the 4th gen consoles for some more. As a port of a classic game that made strides in its genre, it’s top notch. As a $20 game to a casual modern gamer, it may not be your slice of pie. With the PS1 games on offer in the store for half the price, you may weigh your options. That dichotomy has made this one of the more difficult reviews I’ve done.

It won’t appeal to everyone, but the people it does appeal to will find a lot to love. My biggest gripe is the claim that Top Racer Crossroads is a new game. In actuality, it’s simply a ROM hack of the first game, save for replaced car sprites. All in all, Top Racer Collection isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it is bringing a taste of the past to modern consoles with nearly minimal error. That in itself is a commendable job.


  • Nostalgic atmosphere
  • Core gameplay holds up


  • Repetitive
  • Essentially an emulator
  • The “new” game doesn’t feel new

Top Racer Collection

Above Average

Top Racer Collection leaves a lot to be desired, and may just push you to get out the fourth gen consoles you have hiding in storage.

Trevor Walker
PS5 version reviewed. A review code was provided by the publisher.