I preface this by saying that this is a very early Alpha build of the game and my discussion of Over Jump Rally itself will be very brief. The good news is that the developer has stated that a more complete demo is on the horizon next month. What we have is a playable build of a passion project created by Alessandro Schiassi, announced almost exactly a year ago. The origin of the project was to create a "photo-realistic arcade tribute" to the Sega Rally series. More information on the project can be read via the FAQs posted on Facebook and it was a project I closely followed. Yes, being a racing fan is one of the reasons, but aside from Ridge Racer, Sega Rally was one of my favorite arcade racing series thanks to one title in particular.
I was introduced to the series during one Christmas/Birthday when I received Sega Rally 2 from my mother as a "shot in the dark" gift. She knew I was invested in cars and racing as a kid and I've had a Sega Dreamcast for a year at this point. While I didn't know about the game, my mother took a chance with the gift and I didn't like it. At first, anyway. Back then I was kind of a dumb kid who didn't know how to keep a car straight on the road and Sega Rally's distinctive handling measure didn't help matters.
The cars were prone to slide like they were on ice, something that greatly complicated things when driving the Snow or Muddy levels. Over the months I'd get used to how the game plays and slowly but surely I'd complete Arcade and Championship seasons. The music and car selection at the time were engraved in my head. It was a game where you needed to go fast but you were rewarded via handling with precision.
I've never played the original Sega Rally Championship until well into my teens as I didn't have a Sega Saturn, but my next game in the series would be Sega Rally Revo. More specifically, the PlayStation Portable version which was different from its next-gen (at the time) counterparts. I've played both versions eventually and even recently partaken in Time Attack trials.
This all made me realize that, much like Namco's flagship arcade racer, there's been a burning hole missing from Sega's arcade racer. Both of them. I guess you can say Daytona USA made a comeback in the arcades but Daytona Championship USA is not the same. Not even close. So where am I going with this? Well, I'm a firm believer in "If you want something done, do it yourself" and Over Jump Rally is a game that fulfills this adage in many ways.
The mere existence of a Sega Rally Championship fangame is incredible and the promotional material captured what I'd imagine a next-gen Sega Rally would look like. Developed in Unreal Engine 5, the hard rocking tunes, the very familiar Lancia-inspired rally car, and the lush Forest backgrounds all stand out. I must remind that this is a very early alpha build, dropping the player in the middle of the forest and having them go several laps.
When a more complete demo is available, I'll be more critical and go into a deeper dive, but as far as first impressions are concerned the result is impressive. Players can see that this is a project made by a fan of the series, for fans of the series, and the better your rig the more players can see the hard work put in. Even under lower settings, the game looks beautiful and the RTX 3080 I have in the work computer made running on high settings a breeze.
The release of the Over Jump Rally demo is a part of this year's Sonic Amateur Games Expo or SAGE '22. It makes sense as Sega Rally is cherished just as much as Sonic when it comes to SEGA IPs. If the alpha build is anything close to what the demo will entail, then I have high hopes for this passion project in the future.
Players can try out the Over Jump Rally demo HERE. Be sure to read the Read Me for those wanting to tinker around with the settings to match their rig.