While they may not replace that real-world rush of dipping across the broken lines to safely pass a Sunday driver, racing video games have provided unique and exhilarating experiences offered by no other genre. For those without the time or money to hit up the local drag strip or karting experiences, we've rounded up a listing of some of the best racing games of all time.
This roundup will, in no particular order, cover some of the top racing series and highlight some of the best games in them.
First introduced on the Super Nintendo gaming console, the Mario Kart series struck gold by offering gameplay and characters that were accessible enough for casual gamers and controls tuned enough to engage hardcore players.
Iconic characters from the Mario Bros. franchise make appearances in this karting game, which filled colorful courses with wacky powerups.
While the latest iteration of the series, the Wii U's Mario Kart 8, is doing victory laps down a Rainbow road of success, arguably the best two entries into the franchise are Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Wii.
It feed on quarters and blurred sounds at its patrons, but Daytona USA's fans kept coming back to the arcade game. Players could cozy up behind the wheel of a cockpit that felt real, bear down on the gas and race around a 3D world that only punished mistakes asking for more quarters.
On top of being one of the best driving games of its time, it also featured dual cockpits. So friends, or strangers, could go head to head while sitting about a foot away from one another.
Need for Speed
This series has offered some of the world's hottest cars. And while it took skill to excel at Need for Speed, the game is far from simulators and that arcadey gameplay helped to maximize what this franchise does best. It's unrivaled in its ability to relay the illusion of speed. Need for Speed Most Wanted, Underground, Carbon and Hot Pursuit are each solid starting points for those new to the franchise.
The first Gran Turismo game marked a turning point in the racing genre. It focused on simulating the driving experience, tuning its vehicles to respond in game the way it would in real world situation. Wanna cut across the track to gain on friends or drift effortlessly through turns? You better had known what you were doing, because this wasn't the arcades.
Yes the series have improved, both in graphics and gameplay, but the original Gran Turismo was such a landmark game that it deserves to be played, or revisited, first. For those without the hardware to go back that far, check out Gran Turismo 6 or sit tight for 7.
The Forza Motorsport series offers much of what makes Gran Turismo great: tight controls, challenging course and stunning graphics. Gran Turismo, a Sony exclusive series, came first, and Forza Motorsport is Microsoft's equalizer. Games to check out in this series include Forza Motorsport 5 and Forza Horizon 2.
The Trials series, the DiRT Series, Project CARS, Excitebike, Assetto Corsa and Euro Truck Simulator 2 -- this last game is not a joke, far from it in fact.