Like Rage Racer, Ridge Racer Type 4 was only released for consoles and does not have an arcade version. It features 321 cars and 8 tracks, all of which are fictional. The game is one of the few on the PlayStation to use the intensive "Gouraud shading" for polygons, which gives objects a quality of visual depth that was rarely seen in gaming at the time. It also features, for the first time in the series history, a proper two-player split screen mode. Like previous Ridge Racer installments, Ridge Racer Type 4 featured two different driving models: 'drift' and 'grip' styles.
Ridge Racer Type 4 is the only Ridge Racer game to appear on Edge Magazine's 'Top 100 Games to Play Today', where it squeezed in at number one hundred. Its placement was due to it being "home to the series’ finest tracks" as well as the aforementioned Gouraud shading. Its soundtrack and drift gameplay were also praised.
The main mode in the game is the "Grand Prix" mode. The player here takes on the role of an unnamed racing driver who challenges the game's fictional "Real Racing Roots '99" series.
This series is divided into three "stages": two qualifying races, two quarter-final races, then three semi-final races and a final race. Between these four segments, the player will either receive a brand new car or an upgrade to their current car, based on their performance across the races. In order to unlock all 321 cars featured in the game, the player will have to beat the Grand Prix mode with every combination of team, manufacturer, and qualifying position possible, plus knock out the Extra Trials that unlock after beating Grand Prix with each combination of team and manufacturer. This extreme replay value was unheard of in video games at all, let alone compared to other Ridge Racer titles in its time.
Like previous games, cars in the game have one of two disciplines of handling: "grip" driving has the player make tight turns almost like real driving, while the series famous "drift" driving tasks the player with executing sharp drifts around corners.
The *-marked cars at the bottom are the "supercars" obtained by completing Extra Trials. Pac-Man is a secret vehicle unlocked by obtaining the other 320 cars.
- Helter Skelter
- Wonderhill (later included in Ridge Racer (PSP) as Diablo Canyon Road)
- Edge of the Earth
- Out of Blue
- Brightest Nite
- Heaven and Hell (later included in Ridge Racer (PSP) under the name Crimsonrock Pass)
- Shooting Hoops
Each of the courses in Ridge Racer Type 4 eventually received adaptation in Ridge Racer 2 (PSP).
- Pearl Blue Soul
- Naked Glow
- Your Vibe
- Lucid Rhythms
- Silhouette Dance
- Burnin' Rubber
- Revlimit Funk
- Quiet Curves
- Motor Species
- The Objective
- Move Me
- The Ride
- Movin' In Circles