Being a video game developer has its many luxuries, like having no cap on creativity for one, or having to abide by the rules of reality when it comes to drawing up ideas. And it's because of the lack of boundaries that genres like racing have, for example, that teams are able to exploit certain ideas and amplify them without any repercussions.
Of course, we've seen plenty of tricky tracks over the years — almost as many as the monotonous circuits that have plagued every racing game to ever touch the industry. But what courses are the most feared in the genre, and which of them have caused the most families and friendships to fall apart? Well, let's run it from the top. Here are five video game race tracks that are an absolute nightmare to conquer.
5. The Goliath Race (Forza Horizon 5)
Forza Horizon has been known to create some pretty crazy courses for its acclaimed series over the years, forever pushing our limits as we battle it out for the podium. However, nothing has been anywhere near as daunting and monotonous as the infamous Goliath Race, which was only introduced in the last Horizon entry. And if you haven't already tackled the tediously long track yet, then be sure to clear your diary and, you know, book a day off work for it.
Boasting an enormous 55km track that laps the whole of the Mexican border, The Goliath Race stands as one of the biggest tracks in all of Forza. And as beautiful as it is to soak up as you glide from luscious jungles to picturesque mountaintops, the actual race itself is a real nail-biter, with upwards of thirty minutes spent avoiding crashes and knocking tails with other drivers. Of course, in any other situation, the dreaded Goliath Race would've been nothing more than a Sunday drive shrouded in bliss. But it wasn't. It was a race — and a tough one at that.
4. “Wu Zi Mu” (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
Okay, so technically this one is cheating, as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas isn't a racing game, nor should it ever be one. But unfortunately, Rockstar has a bad habit of trying to implement them into its games. And yes, they're usually riddled with bugs and disadvantages. And while a well-placed bullet would usually solve the majority of problems in San Andreas, its races, on the other hand, are made to test your mettle through dumb luck alone.
Hit a streetlight and you'll spiral into a 720 twist. Drive up an incline and you'll end up doing a barrel roll. Make one wrong maneuver, and you'll soon find yourself in a pit and engulfed in flames. So, unless you're able to execute every corner with eagle-eyed precision, you'll find yourself crashing back to the start line all over again. Thanks, Rockstar. We probably could've done without that.
3. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart)
Let's be honest here. You already knew this one was going to make an appearance at some point. I mean, it was pretty much destined to be here as well as every other list that references god-awful race tracks from the moment it blossomed in the earliest Mario Kart games. And since then, well, let's just say its popularity hasn't exactly dipped in the hall of fame with recent entries.
Made up of whirling strips of fluorescent jewels and jagged corners gleaming with neon panels, Rainbow Road is basically a toddler's ultimate fantasy. But as far as racing on it goes — it's basically three laps of torture, and something that holds the power to destroy relationships with something as simple as a well-placed banana peel. Sneaky.
2. Phantom Road (F-ZERO GX)
F-ZERO GX had its fair share of abysmal track designs buried deep within its futuristic core, and we'd be lying if we said we didn't spent a great deal of time repairing controllers over the mounds of ramped up difficulty spikes each one featured. But having said that, the GameCube hit did boast plenty of entry-level tracks that were bordering family-friendly, meaning anyone could dive into its cyberpunk world and compete for the gold.
But let's talk about Phantom Road. Now that's where things take a sharp turn for the worse. Think Rainbow Road, only with speeds fifteen times faster, and drivers a hundred times more aggressive; that's what we're looking at when it comes to Phantom Road. It's almost nauseatingly quick, incredibly unpredictable, and essentially built up from lashings of pixels and pitch black particles. It's an elite track that's unforgiving when it comes to the faint-hearted, plain and simple.
1. Nürburgring (Gran Turismo 4)
Gran Turismo‘s infamous Nürburgring course has been branded as not only one of the longest tracks in the history of the franchise, but also one of the most painstakingly unforgiving. And for good reason, too. In order to crack the podium and come out on top, you're basically forced to repeat the same drive a thousand times over as a way to mesh your muscle memory with the track design. And only then, when you're brain is entwined with every nook and cranny of the winding course, are you ready to compete.
It's a finale almost every Gran Turismo fan will quickly slate for a million and one reasons, and is definitely a course any racing enthusiast will refrain from plunging into for the fun of it. It's something only a strong heart and a whole lot of patience can consider — let alone conquer. However, beat it, and you'll waltz away with a few shiny rewards. Though to be brutally honest, the rewards amount to nothing when you're mental state is teetering on the brink of collapse after attempting it a hundred times over.
So, which video game race tracks have steered you away from the pad over the years? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.