Race'n'Chase was the working title of a game for Windows 95, DOS, PlayStation 1, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 by DMA Design. During development, Race'n'Chase was almost cancelled, but was later changed dramatically and eventually became Grand Theft Auto 1. The official start of the development of Race'n'Chase was April 4, 1995 (although there are documents that state the date was earlier) and was scheduled to end on July 1, 1996. The whole project was expected to take 18 months, but the development was stopped and the transition to Grand Theft Auto took about thirty months. During this time the game was almost cancelled. The original "idea" for Race'n'Chase was "to produce a fun, addictive, fast-paced multiplayer car racing and crashing game."

Race'n'Chase was developed around an engine that made it possible to drive in a city that had a top-down view, which became the inspiration for GTA and GTA2, but the game was designed more for escaping and police chases. The game would be a more linear experience than Grand Theft Auto. There were four different mission types, both single and multiplayer:

  • Cannonball Run, a race where the real players, rather than computer-controlled cars, would race from point A to point B.
  • Demolition Derby, in which players try to destroy each other's cars. The winner is the one who eventually left or, if the players get new cars, the one who has destroyed the most other vehicles.
  • Bank Robbery (Robber), in which the player is a bank robber with a getaway car and must drive to a safe house while trying to avoid the police.
  • Bank Robbery (Cop), Where the player plays as a police officer tries to get a fleeing bank robber to stop.

The setting would consist of three different cities (as an example New York and Miami were mentioned, two models were in Liberty City and Vice City in Grand Theft Auto). You would get sent to another city after you had completed certain tasks. The cities would be so large that a plan was necessary to find your way. Apparently, you had to park to look at the map.

There have been some features not included in Grand Theft Auto. The player but also cars and trucks, boats and helicopters to control (all are present in the original Grand Theft Auto, but not drivable). Various weather conditions like snow and rain would affect the player's driving. Buildings may be damaged by a car driving into a window. Besides ordinary pedestrians, there were also schoolchildren, a "lollipop lady" and dogs.

Grand Theft Auto finally came out in October 1997 as a completely different game than Race'n'Chase. More than thirteen years later, on March 21, 2011, Mike Dailly, the original designer for Race'n'Chase, released one of the documents of the development of Race'n'Chase.

On June 7, 2011, Race'n'Chase was featured in an article on the humor website cracked.com written by Karl Smallwood and M. Asher Cantrell, titled "6 Glitches that Accidentally Invented Modern Gaming"[1]. In it, the authors describe how early testers hated Race'n'Chase, but loved a glitch in the game which cause AI-controlled pursuing police officers to ram the player-controlled vehicle off the road, which caused "non-stop crashing", which the testers found funny and abandoned the linear missions just to have police chases. The developers eventually abandoned Race'n'Chase and turned it into Grand Theft Auto.

In a 2011 interview with Gamasutra, Gary Penn, a former employee at DMA Design, talked about Race'n'Chase[2].

Translated from the Dutch WikiGTA article on Race'n'Chase[3].