In racing games, you sometimes have the option of competing against yourself in Time Trial mode, not just by the final time, but by racing against a hollow "ghost" recording of a previous run. This might be your own run, your friend's, or even a stranger's downloaded from the web.
Some games have "staff ghosts" from the developers of the game, which may have to be unlocked first. Obviously, the developers' top record will be very difficult to beat, but not every staff ghost is like this. Sometimes, less gameplay-oriented members of the staff will provide a ghost, in which case out-racing this ghost might unlock a more difficult ghost.
In any case, ghosts provide an easy visual way to gauge one's performance without checking the clock.
- F-Zero has these in the typical time trial fashion, but F-Zero GX takes it one step further. The very end of story mode has Captain Falcon race against The Creators of the universe and they are essentially the developers with their best records recorded. That's right, the fate of the entire universe rides on beating someone's best time in a time trial race, but it doesn't mean that it won't give you troubles.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mario Kart uses this, with the 7th game in particular taking the concept pretty far. Every track has multiple staff ghosts (each unlocked after beating the last). If left in sleep mode, the 3DS will download ghosts from random players. There's an option to play against 7 ghosts at once. The Wii version also allowed downloads but had less ghosts per track at a time.
- Super Mario Galaxy has a literal ghost you can race against. There's also a sort of "cosmic" Mario (he's the same shape as Mario, but looks like a cutout into outer space) you can race against in a timed run of a given level. Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a raceable ghost of Luigi, though you only get a "best time" reward for beating him rather than a star or anything else.
- Super Mario 3D World uses this to show how other players have traversed the myriad stages. Their movements are portrayed by limbed Sprixies with the heads of the Miis used by the other players. Aside from being raceable, they can also be used to discover level secrets you might have overlooked yourself.
- Mirror's Edge
- In the TrackMania series, all opponents are always intangible ghosts: Your only enemy is the track itself.
- At the beginning of the Speed Racer movie, Speed races against his brother's time, and it's represented as a Racing Ghost.
- Crash Team Racing
- Some Need for Speed games have this.
- Diddy Kong Racing (both versions) has a set of ghosts for each course as driven by T.T., a stopwatch character. Beating all of the ghosts unlocks him as a playable character.
- Kirby Air Ride: In Free Run mode, where you can race an unlimited number of laps for good time, a star will follow the rout of your fastest lap in the current session.
- The Gourmet Race in Kirby Super Star. Instead of a transparent Kirby replaying your fastest run, a flashing star is used as the ghost.
- Runman Race Around The World has the option to save level ghosts. Keeping in the game's hand-drawn appearance, however, the ghost always appears as a little hand-drawn bedsheet-style ghost that traces whatever you did that run while holding up a sign with a picture of the character you were using.
- Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing has fairly manageable staff ghosts to race, as well as much more difficult "Sumo Ghosts" from top online players.
- Sonic Generations is a platforming example. A challenge type common to every main stage is the Doppelganger Race, which involves beating a ghost version of Sonic through its respective stage. Simply beating the ghost is enough to pass, though of course the S Rank times are much stricter.
- xkcd #1580 suggests racing "ghost" versions of yourself as a travel planning aid, then unnervingly applies it to more mundane situations.