forza motorsport 7

I got an XBox One recently because I very specifically needed a machine to play my old XBox games. My 360 controllers are old as fuck and have the sticks have drift on them that the JoyCon could only dream of, and since finding a new unfucked 360 pad is impossible, I got a whole new system instead.

Now the thing is, I bought this so I can play my neglected collection of old games. While I have been doing that, I have also been distracted by a couple of games I’ve missed out on in the past hardware generation. I’m talking about Forza Motorsport 7, naturally. This is actually my first time playing any game in the Forza series, actually. My love of Auto Racing came after I had to admit that my I couldn’t really play anything on my 360 anymore. Sure, I could’ve gotten Game Pass or simply bought the game off of Steam, but FM7 is a 70 GB game. That has to compete with my PC’s internal storage, which ain’t really all that big. It has to compete with all my art projects, all the fighting games, a large collection of music and pornography, among many other things. A game console does not have these problems, so it’s easier to simply download it to that and play on a big ass TV. Which I did.

the rain effects are really cool

Before I played this, I tried a little bit of Forza Horizon 4. Seemed like it would be cool: a semi-realistic driving game with a big open world, Burnout Paradise style. Instead I got a bunch of loot box bull shit, a storyline full of characters who look like their names are on the Epstein flight logs, and winning races didn’t unlock cars, but instead unlocked ads for cars that I could buy via microtransactions. Also, the game doesn’t run at 60 FPS. I’m not some asshole stickler for FPS or FOV or PIV or some shit, but if you make a racing game, it should run as fast as possible. The only exception to this rule is Ridge Racer 4, and that’s only because that game was good enough to make up for that weakness in other ways. A racing game on 8th gen hardware should not be having this problem. Anyways. Forza Horizon 4 sucked, and I wasn’t especially looking forward to trying out FM7, but I felt like I still should.

Good news: Forza Motorsport 7 is awesome. It is a game that gives me what I want: being able to drive really fast in cars that you can only afford if you game the stock market or commit a war crime (though I repeat myself) on courses that I’ve seen on TV. That’s it. Get a starter car, win some races, take the points you’ve earned from competing to buy more cars, and race those cars too. No bull shit about being a high-society dickhead or trying to become a movie star or whatever the fuck Horizon was about. No fucking lootboxes, either. Yeah, FM7 has some DLC, but it’s significantly less predatory than its competing spin-off. The whole reason I’ve been focusing on covering retro games is entirely because of shit like this; I remember a time when I would buy a video game, and I would be able to play the entire fucking video game. Not get an ad to let me know that I can purchase additional content on top of my already spent $60 that should have been in the game to begin with, that doesn’t even run at a good frame rate. Am I so out of touch? No, it’s the developers who are wrong.

yeah fuck this and fuck you forza horizon

But enough about bad racing games. I have spent the last two days with FM7, and I have not had this much fun with a racing game since the days of Gran Turismo 6 on my PS3. I drove an Indy Car at Daytona. I drove a Ferrari 340 at Monza. I drove a Nissan Fairlady in this gorgeously rendered Dubai, where bits of sand get caught up in the wind, creating this drifting wave across the road. On courses with rain, the raindrops gather on your windshield, and then your wipers kick on every few seconds to help you maintain visibility. That is, assuming that you’re using the cockpit view, which you should. For as much as I loved GT6, I couldn’t use the cockpit view in a number of cars, because they were so detailed that the frame rate would drop. FM7 does not have this problem, so I’m always looking through the windshield.

I do have a couple of complaints about Forza here. One, there’s a stark lack of Toyota representation. Two, and this is more of an XBox problem: I can’t just plug in a USB drive and import my own music to listen to while I drive like I could with GT6. I get that that isn’t super realistic, but who cares; it’s not like I need to hear the engines roaring as some sort of tactical thing. Other than that, I have no real issues. It’s exactly what I want, a racing game.

There’s a real beauty to FM7’s simplicity. All you do is drive, buy some cars, then drive some more. Racing games have worked that way since the 80s, because it works. The formula was perfected right out of the gate, and everything since then has been reinventing the wheel (so to speak). I’m glad I played this after I played Forza Horizon, if only to see just how much one company can fuck up the concept, and then see how a different company gets it right. In any event, I get the hype for Forza now; I’ll put it on par with GT. They’re both great.

paris-dakar rally special

A wise philosopher once said: Video Games Can Be About Anything. Think about any game, and how truly out there and strange their settings are. A plumber saving a magical kingdom from a family of evil turtles. A man armed only with a pack of cigarettes taking down a nuclear-equipped terrorist group. A medieval Syrian assassin loaded up on cocaine time-travelling to the 1980s to kill Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. Games that we as an audience consider to be “normal” are pretty weird in actuality. Of course, there are simulation titles and sports games to keep things grounded a little bit (with some exceptions to be made there, as well).

The Paris-Dakar Rally is (or was) a rally race series that would begin in Paris, France and end in Dakar, Senegal. It was a very popular event, with musicians and actors competing in the race mixed in with all the professional drivers. Making a video game based on it seems like a no-brainer, right? Racing games tend to be fun, and even the worst ones sell decently enough for a company to make at least a small profit. So that is exactly what developer ISCO did, and now we have the Paris-Dakar Rally Special for the Famicom.

ISCO are a unique developer, we’ll say. They’re mostly known for their porting of other companies games, mostly Data East (Two Crude Dudes and Captain America and The Avengers on Sega Genesis being done by them). However, they did do their own original titles. And by “original titles,” I mean absolute fucking dog shit like Seikima II: Akuma no Gyakushu and Transformers Convoy no Nazo. The former is a terrible platformer with confusing level layouts and terrible music, which is an absolute insult given that it’s a game based on a really cool metal band from the 80s. The latter is that game we all played because we looked at a list of NES ROMs and thought that, holy shit, there’s a Transformers Nintendo game!? It has to be good! And then it wasn’t. So ISCO’s output is…something.

 

Okay, so ISCO struck out twice with their games so far. It would be pretty easy to think that Paris-Dakar Rally would suck too. Not only does the game not suck, but it may very well be one of the most, if not the most, imaginative of the 8-bit era.

The thing about this racing game is that the first thing you do is not race. Rather, you have to wander around Tokyo, talking to banks, corporate offices, and racing clubs to get a sponsorship and enough money to buy a car. It’s a nice bit of flavor, given that the real-life rally was a primarily privateer affair (privateer in this case meaning drivers who are not part of an auto manufacturer and must pay their way into a race).

Once all that’s out of the way, you then have to get yourself a navigator to help you with all the terrain on the desert tracks. You get assigned one based on how well you do on a reflex test? Okay, sure.

Now, as someone who has played through this game multiple times, I’ll straight up admit that I have no idea if this entire segment actually effects how the rest of the game is played; I have not noticed any difference in the cars regardless of my sponsor or navigator. But whatever, I appreciate the effort put into making all this.

Once all of that is out of the way, we fly to Paris and actually begin the race. Let me tell you all right now that this first level is by far the hardest of the bunch. If you’ve ever seen a video from the Japanese Retro side of Youtube, they tend to give up here. It’s simple enough in concept: you drive, trying to make it to the end of the course. You have to dodge other cars, obstacles in the road, and barrels being tossed onto the track. There will be cars that will suddenly speed up from behind you in an attempt to crash into you, and speeding up to maximum acceleration will only make them fly at you faster. At the same time, you can’t take the race slow, as you still want to get a good completion time, and you’ll run out of fuel. You get three hits and a full of tank of gas before you’re fucked, and if you’re fucked, then you get to restart the whole race from the beginning. It’s hard, but it’s definitely doable if you’re willing to put some time into pattern memorization and knowing when to speed up and slow down (kind of like real racing that way).

Then the second half of Paris begins. Now the course is a…maze? Like, a Pac-Man style maze where you need to dodge other cars, who are now very much trying to collide into you. Alright.

The next stop on the rally is leaving Paris and getting to Barcelona. That’s an easy enough race, simply avoid falling boulders, dodge eggs being laid by birds overhead, and if any lizards or sewer rats get in the way, shoot them with your gun!

Yes, okay, so P-DRS is not even remotely a realistic racing game. It’s not even an unrealistic racing game like Rad Racer or Outrun. Like I quoted at the beginning: Video Games Can Be About Anything. This is not the video game version of a realistic race, this is unbridled creativity and/or not giving a fuck. This is a race from Paris to Dakar as envisioned by a madman. Normally, a lesser reviewer who have made some tired crack along the lines of “heh, what were these guys on when they made this game, DRUGS!?” I will not be doing that, because that’s a disservice to this game that we have been given. It takes a special kind of person to take the concept of a racing game, then turn it into a side-scrolling shooter only part of the way through. A shooter where you need to get out of the car and solve some basic switch puzzles, sometimes walking on clouds to do so.

I need to make this clear: I am not being sarcastic, this is not some weird gimmick I’m doing. Paris-Dakar Rally Special rules. This game is really good, despite what its reputation would have you believe. It is an absolute work of art, this complete risk being taken to make something truly original, something I love about the 8-bit era of games where developers made whatever they wanted.

The next leg of the race is Barcelona to Alger. Geography students out there, or I guess anyone who looked at a map on Google, knows that there’s a pretty big body of water that separates these two places. You would think that maybe the race crews would take a ferry across, and continue the race.

Or, you know, just fucking drive through the ocean.

Much like the Mach 5, your Rally car is submersible, as are your guns. You’ll need those guns, because you have to face sharks, octopi, schools of fish, helicopters dropping bombs (as opposed to providing medical aid, something they are meant to do in the real rally), and missiles fired at you from an unknown source.

Emerging from the ocean, we arrive at the desert. The first half is fairly benign, with more shooting at animals the size of your car and sometimes navigating deep rivers. Snakes, camels, moles, stuff like that.

The second half, however, is much different. The organizers of the race didn’t seem to think that it was a bad idea to hold a race in the middle of an active war zone. Now my 4WD is taking out tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets. I need to reiterate that this game rules.

You think after all of this, the final level in Dakar is going to be completely wild. Just the most off-the-wall shit imaginable. In a way, it kind of is, because it is simply a race on a dirt track in Dakar.

That’s the twist. After all these genre-changing levels, full of weird shit, the final level is an actual racing game. You know, ISCO could have made all of their levels like this. They could have done a regular racing game, and it probably would have been fine. Good, but not great. Instead, they made something that lives up to the name of Special. A wild, extremely memorable experience that I’m sure pissed off a few people expecting a playable version of the actual Paris-Dakar Rally. Like, there wouldn’t be a bait-and-switch in games this good until Solid Snake stopped being the protagonist in Metal Gear.

Look at this cover. Would you have had any idea of what was actually happening in this game?

Creativity like this is a rare unicorn; it’s not often that the whole “average video game concept turned on its ear in increasingly strange ways” actually works. I mean, sure, P-DRS isn’t exactly Mega Man 2 or something in terms of being technically good, but sometimes there’s more to being a game than technically good. Sometimes all a game needs to be good is to make you laugh at an absurd situation while you make an Abrams tank explode with a gun mounted to an brandless race car.

Video games can be about anything.

Racing Game Roundup, Handheld Edition

Another month, another upcoming Gran Prix, it’s time to play some racers and talk about them on the internet! This particular entry will follow a theme that I will expand upon in an upcoming post.

Gran Turismo PSP

I’m still torn on how I feel about this one. Obviously, you’re not doing a 1:1 recreation of a console GT on a new handheld. It would be ridiculous to expect nearly a thousand cars, loads of tracks, more than four cars racing on said tracks at a time, and all the various bells and whistles that you associate with Gran Turismo when the PSP is still so new.

Then I did a few seconds of research and found out that this came out in fucking 2009. 2009, and Polyphony Digital thought that it would be a good idea to release something so bare-bones. You get a small amount of cars available at a time, in two lap races on a small amount of tracks, and that’s about it. No license challenges, no ranked challenges, nothing. Just pick a car and drive. And while I can respect that simplicity, and totally understand why things would be so stripped down for a game that you’re mostly going to be playing during bus/train rides or during a break at work, there’s not really much of a reason to come back after a while. Due to the random nature of buying cars; you can only buy from about 4-5 dealerships at a time, and they’re randomly determined after finishing a race, unlocking shit is a lot more tedious than it needs to be.

Despite all this, it’s still Gran Turismo. It still plays well. I can still drive a 240z at Suzuka and Monaco. I can’t completely hate it, but I can feel a bit let down by it.

 

Ridge Racer PSP

Until I sat down and played this, I only knew about this version of Ridge Racer from one thing: that disastrous Sony E3 presentation. You know, the one that spawned a series of extremely unfunny memes? Giant Enemy Crabs lol and all that bull shit? “Jokes” that were so fucking bad that it caused me to feel at least a twinge of sympathy for Sony. Like, congrats Gamers, you are all so annoying and terrible at telling jokes that you made a massive corporation that released a $700 console and openly thought it was “too cheap” look like the good guys. Fucking assholes. Anyways, I ignored Ridge Racer as a result of this.

If you needed any further proof that gamers ruin everything, it’s this, because Ridge Racer on the PSP is fucking awesome.

Holy shit, this game rules. It is essentially a Ridge Racer Nostalgia Fest, in that you drive through tracks from previous games, and listen to music from previous games, as well. So you can tear through Wonder Hill from Ridge Racer 4 while listening to that really cool Genpei Toumaden remix from Ridge Racer 5. Or listen to music from the first game while driving on the beach track from Ridge Racer Revolution. All while using the new nitrous boost system that would later be used in 6 and 7. It’s cool, and extremely fun.

I do need to take this time to mention how good this game looks. Ridge Racer came out in 2004, once again proving that Namco’s artists are some of the absolute best in the entire industry. Great stuff.

Ridge Racer is a fun as fuck racer with a lot of shit in it. Also, the loading screen is a playable version of Rally-X.

 

Pimp My Ride

Oh yes. I saw this, and knew that I had to play it. This is the kind of low effort garbage I adore. Now, it’s been about a million years since I have seen an episode of Pimp My Ride, but I do remember that it was a show where people with shitty cars would beg popular Hip-Hop artist Xzibit for help, to which he would send the car to a garage, where a team of experts would then put a bunch of shit on said car that made it look even worse in the end. You know, like “yo man, we put an aquarium in the roof towards the back seat, so when you’re failing to once again convince your girl to try anal, you can take a gander at this Flounder.” Shit like that. I was not a fan of the show, but my friends were, so I ended up having to watch a lot of episodes.

Pimp My Ride The Video Game is a shitty open-world driving game. The first half is you driving around, picking up cash icons and crashing into other cars to get money. You can also do some extremely low effort mini-games, like dancing and honking your horn at a crowd of onlookers.

You do this until you get a certain amount of money. Once you do, then comes the second half: Pimping a Ride. Credit where it’s due, the developers actually got Xzibit to do a phoned-in voice over here. The X to the Z sends you back out into Pimp City (yes, really) to make stops at various Pimp Stations with loading screens are full of “Pimp Hints” between them to Pimp out some poor fuckers’ car. I’ve heard the word “Pimp” so many times that the word has lost all meaning; it may as well be its own Smurf language at this point. This Pimping game is really Pimpy and can seriously Pimp my Pimp, and if you don’t like it, Pimp off.

Now, the idea of competing to customize a better car could make for a good game. That is not the case here. Predictably, the game plays and controls like absolute Pimp. This is not a game made by an A-Team with a lot of money behind it, and it shows. But at least it’s Pimp in an interesting way. The kind of game you play and laugh at for a little while, before scrambling to put the Gran Turismo or Ridge Racer UMD into your system. It Pimps, but there are games out there that Pimp more.

nice interior

racing roundup for may 2021

It’s that time of the year again where I’m not home for a couple weeks, and I don’t have access to my high-end Gamer Rig that allows me to enjoy popular 3D video games, or things like “a mouse.” So to relieve my boredom, I’m playing retro shit on my laptop. And seeing as how Monaco was this past weekend, thought it would be timely to talk about a few more racing games on here.

Satoru Nakajima F-1 Hero GB World Championship ’91

Back in September, I had done a write-up on a few licensed racing games featuring Satoru Nakajima. Thought that I would very slowly cover the rest of them, as they are significantly lacking in quality compared to at least one and a half of their Mega Drive counterparts, and I would rather not rip off that band-aid right away. F-1 Hero ’91 is a game that seems like it’s pretty good. Looks fine. Sounds okay. Handles really well. No, the big problem here is an emulation issue where there’s really bad flicker that fucks with the path of the track. I recorded a short video of it, and while it’s not super bad here, it does get worse later on, looking like one of those weird 3-D games from the era that flashed two images one after another. Didn’t record that, as I didn’t want to take a chance and trigger someone’s epilepsy.

So this is a game that’s probably okay, but due to an issue outside of its control, I had to put it down pretty quick. That’s a shame. Despite being literally unplayable, it’s still better than the rest of Nakajima’s Nintendo outings. I’ll cover those another day.

Super Monaco GP

The very first racing game I ever covered for this particular feature was Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II. I thought that, for funsies, I would play the first game.

I have since come around on Sega’s Super Monaco games since August. Before, I would have said that these were okay, but nothing special. Now I’m totally into these games. One of the few Super Scaler games on the Mega Drive (yes, I’m American, but Mega Drive sounds cooler than Genesis) that’s any good. Super Monaco GP is a fairly simple, but still fun arcade port where you get into a car and drive faster than everyone else.

Sorry, let me correct myself. You get into THE car: the 1988 McLaren driven by Ayrton Senna. Quite obvious that Sega wanted to get an official endorsement here, but would have to wait until the sequel.

yes, this is a picture of the 1989 race, but it’s still the same fucking car, okay?

So you climb into the not-McLaren, and as Notrya Annes (yes, that’ll do), you kick everyone’s ass. Well, you’ll kick everyone’s ass so long as you learn how to use the stick shift. You try playing this in automatic, you are going to lose 100% of the time, as the top speed will cause you to helplessly watch as every other car on the track passes you by. Once you get used to that, though, the game becomes fun.

There’s also an extremely rudimentary World Championship mode. It’s not anywhere close to something like Super Hang-On; you simply race on different tracks, and then another driver will give out the mildest trash talk, and then you try to beat him during a race. It’s fine, clearly something to add some replay value to what would otherwise be a cut and dry port. Give it a shot, why not.

sadly, you do not start in the mclaren here

F1 Circus MD

Remember when I talked about one of the PC-Engine F1 Circus games, and I said, “huh, this must be a mistranslation of ‘circuit.'” Well, I was a fucking idiot. It’s circus.

Anyways, idiocy aside, this is the lone Mega Drive version in the series. The game itself is a pretty firm middle of the road (lol) racing game. Circus still suffers from some of the issues that its PC-Engine counterparts had, insofar as the limited perspective and touchy controls. However, it has one major improvement that makes the game far more playable: it has a fucking map.

Now, you can actually see when a turn is coming up, and how sharp it is, rather than only getting a turn signal and hoping for the best. A minimap is such a small thing, but it adds so much when you’re screaming down a track at high speeds.

F1 Circus also has weather effects, such as rain, which is cool. Starting the race with Rain tyres, then having to pit and switch to regular tyres as the weather clears up during the race, that’s also really cool.

and yes, i did steal the umbrella design for my own piece of racing sprite art

I don’t really much to say about F1 Circus other than that. It’s a solid racing game that is a few paces behind Satoru Nakajima Super License, but it’s still fun to play and mess around with for a little while. There are worse games on the system.

That’s it for this one. I’ll be back again next month for some more racing. Looks like the Mega Drive is the current king of 16-bit racing games.

racing game round-up march 2021

Today was the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix. This means that F1 season is starting up again (I mean, I guess racing season itself is too, if you ignore the IMSA Endurance races and the Mazda Cup). With that in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back that thing I do where I play some racing games and then say if they’re good or not. Maybe even make it a monthly thing. The season being over should also explain why I haven’t been doing this for a while.

Initial Drift Online

Before I begin this, quick shout out to my friend, Miffy The Gaming Goddess, for showing me this game.

Initial Drift Online is an open-world street racing game that is currently in Steam Early Access. The elevator pitch for this would probably be “Burnout Paradise meets Initial D.” You drive around various parts of Japan known for their street racing culture, racing other players or delivering tofu for cash, which you then use to either upgrade or buy a new car. It’s a bit bare-bones at the moment, but what’s there is fun enough. Admittedly, it did take me a while to get used to the car handling. I’m so used to games that emphasize you using the brake and slowing down on corners, rather than games like this, where you just spin to win through them. Also, some of the adjustments you can make to your car might not actually work yet. So there’s a bit of a learning curve to IDO.

Now I will say that earning money can be a bit tedious; driving back and forth down long, long, long winding roads to deliver tofu isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. But it’s worth it when you have a car that can actually hold its own in a race. I am looking forward to seeing Initial Drift’s progress, and come back to this once there’s some more stuff to do. As it is, I kind of have to keep this write-up short, as there isn’t much else to say. Mostly wanted to plug a nice little indie game I played. It’s fun and it’s cheap. So put on your favorite Eurobeat and take some corners.

Ridge Racer 7

After about two years of pulling out my hair, banging my head on the wall, and not getting anything resembling a straight answer from the internet, I finally got my PS3 modded yesterday! I’ll get around to doing a post on that once I get more than two games on there. Anyways. One of those two games was Ridge Racer 7, because you need a Ridge Racer on your Playstation console, even if you get it about 14 years too late.

For a game that came in 2007, early in the PS3’s life, Ridge Racer still looks really good. I shouldn’t be so shocked, since Namco games always have an amazing art style and a timeless look, but it’s still interesting to see a game developed during a tumultuous period for the PS3 not look like hot garbage. It should go without saying that it sounds good too. I mean, duh, Ridge Racer always has great music. It has some sick EDM, as racing games should, but it also features a couple of songs from this nameless genre that seems to exist mostly in Japanese video games. You know the kind, with the somber piano set to unusual techno beats, sometimes suddenly shifting into a different sound altogether. RR7 does it, Phantasy Star Online does it, Opoona does it, Tekken 7 does it, Blue Reflection (fuck) does it. Whatever it is, I fucking love it.

Ridge Racer 7 owns. This is the kind of racing game you play if you’re only in the mood for “car go fast brrr,” and don’t feel like constantly having to make adjustments and do hard things like look at numbers. I don’t mean that as an insult; sometimes you just want to feel the sensation of going fast in a hurry. When you come to grips with how the cars handle, playing well is so goddamn satisfying. Getting that perfect drift that fills up your boost gauge (this game has a boost gauge now), and leaving the other cars in your dust is so good. A term you could use to describe Ridge Racer 7, or any Ridge Racer for matter, is “effortless style.” Playing well takes time, but it looks so easy when you get it.

i’m thinkin’ about dig-dug

If there’s any game you decide to play after reading this post, please make it Ridge Racer.

Cosmic Race

Now we’re going from an early PS3 game, to an early PS1 game.You may not know about this game, as it never left Japan. A pretty good reason as to why it never left Japan is because Cosmic Race is widely considered one of the worst games on the system. And boy, is it ever! Mostly because it controls like absolute shit, is somehow completely nonsensical despite being a racing game, and is said that a good chunk of the game’s graphics are default assets from the Playstation Development Kit. Actually playing the game feels legitimately unfinished. I don’t mean unfinished in the sense that one or two things feel rushed, but there is still a whole product, like most games. No, I mean unfinished as in, if I released a demo of one of the games I’m working on to Itchio.biz right now, it would be as much of a game as Cosmic Race.

This was as far as I got in Gran Prix mode. The rival car (the only one you have to beat, despite there being like a dozen flying cars in front of you at any given time) goes super fast, and I could never get used to the control scheme of strafing with the d-pad and turning with the face buttons. You won’t get used to it, either.

It is extremely not good. Which, of course, also makes it great for all the wrong reasons. The secret to Cosmic Race is to not actually play the racing mode. This sounds weird, I know, but there is another mode to the game that is almost enjoyable. In it, you fly around looking for three markers as quickly as possible. This is pretty much impossible, as the markers will randomly disappear and reappear, and your guide are two arrows pointing you in completely arbitrary directions. You’ll never finish this mode, either. But what I do like about it is simply floating around in this low-poly world where nothing makes sense. It’s almost kind of scary; it’s like playing a dream. But I love it.

I would liken Cosmic Race to the Playstation equivalent of Death Crimson. Depending on what kind of person you are, this is either a huge recommendation, or a huge condemnation. Check it out.

Well then, that’s three games covered. I think I will return to this some time in the next month, turning it into a feature for the rest of the racing season. Look forward to it!

gran turismo sport

I finally got myself a copy of Gran Turismo Sport a couple days ago. Mostly because it was cheap and I’m seemingly hellbent on playing as many racing games as possible these days. People who followed me back before a database failure deleted every post I made on here from 2008-2013 will remember that I fucking love Gran Turismo 6. It, along with Super Hang-On, is one of those sim type racing games that I loved even before I loved the sport it was based on. GT6 is very much a Pokemon For Adults, in the sense that you collect all these sports cars, race them, then leave them to sit in a box for eternity as you seek to acquire more of them. This is why I didn’t immediately jump on GT Sport, as it significantly cut back on the number of cars in an effort to focus on the actual racing aspect, to the point of having their courses officially sanctioned by the FIA. As I didn’t care enough about the sport side, I looked at it like buying a new Pokemon game, and only getting like 25 creatures to catch in a series that conditions you to find at least 250.

Anyways. I’ve spent the past 2 days pouring over this game. I hate to say it, but I find myself bouncing off of it pretty quick, finding GT6 much more preferable.

GT Sport does a really good job of sucking you in, aside from a really shitty intro that focuses on showing off a bunch of weird looking nerds playing the game instead of cars going fast while a Daiki Kasho jam blasts your eardrums out. But once you actually start the game, you immediately notice how fucking gorgeous the graphics are; and they fucking better be, considering the game is almost 100 gigs in size (sidebar: video games are TOO FUCKING BIG these days!). It’s pretty as hell, the soundtrack is full of the Daiki Kasho classics the series is known for, and the driving feels great. Despite cutting down on the number of cars, I was still able to buy my two favorite Nissan’s: the 300ZX and the 240Z (or at least, a close equivalent in the GReddy Fugu Z), in addition to a number of Mitsubishi Lancers, which are also really cool.

I cannot stress enough how satisfying it is to drive these machines around. And on top of all this, there’s a pretty great livery editor, which let’s me import my own custom textures. Finally, there is a Slimegirl Racing Team.

Yes, I will have a second Slimegirl game finished someday. Making video games is hard, okay?

There’s all this cool shit that looks and plays great. The soundtrack tries to make up for the fact that the PS4 sucks and won’t let you put your own music on the hard drive like you could with the PS3. But then there’s a problem. You don’t notice it at first, but the further you make it in the game, the more pronounced it becomes.

A big thing that GT Sport has is the involvement of Lewis Hamilton. There’s an entire Time Trial DLC where you have to beat his best times, lots of in-game promotion of him, and then a timeline of his life and career up to 2019. Obviously, this in and of itself is fine; the history of sports games is tied to athlete endorsements, Hamilton is on the verge of being the best driver of all time, and he’s apparently a big fan of the series. It only makes sense to bring him on-board.

No, what’s weird about this is that periods of his life are posted in relative terms to events in world history. Some of it is fairly normal, like the release of movies and popular albums. Then it starts to relate his career more and more to a bunch of conservative shit. Trump, Brexit, Space X, tech-bro stuff, the Pope. A few cursory mentions of Obama, Malala Yousafzai, and Usain Bolt, sure, but it’s still mostly old racist white dudes. At no point is any of Hamilton’s activism mentioned. “Black Lives Matter” does not appear a single time. No environmental activism. Nothing. All you know is that Lewis Hamilton won a bunch of races, and Windows 10 came out and revolutionized the world.

Yes, these are all important world events, true. But it does feel uncomfortable relating all of this to the life of a proud Black activist, you know? Why not relate his accomplishments to examples of Black excellence? Maybe mention more than three athletes? Strides made in equal rights? Anything better than “evil man succeeds at thing?”

Then this reactionary attitude spills over into the actual racing. In order to actually take part in the “Sport” part of GT Sport, you have to attend a “Racing Etiquette” class where some instructional videos tell how not to drive like an asshole. No running people off the course, no ramming other cars like it’s Burnout, no unsportsmanlike conduct. That sort of thing. Obviously, nobody who plays this game follows any of these rules. It’s to be expected that a bunch of clownshoes will play dirty in their quest for a podium. That’s not a surprise to me. But then you play the offline campaign, and the fucking AI drivers start pulling shit on you, too. They’ll gladly run you into the dirt. I had to restart a race about four times because the CPU cars were too busy trying to kill each other, which made driving impossible. You don’t get penalized offline, either. Feel free to hit them back. Drive over a curb if you want, who gives a fuck? The online penalties are a joke, too! In real racing, you do an illegal overtake, you have to give up your position and let the other driver pass you. In real racing, you intentionally cause all sorts of safety hazards, you can be suspended for several races, and have points taken off your license. In GT Sport, the most you get is a 2-4 second penalty added to your time at the end, which won’t mean much if the guy you forced into a wall is now in last place.

My attempt at online racing has left me firmly in the middle of the pack, getting 5th or 6th in a 12-person race. Trying to play the right way at least raises my “Sportsmanship” rating, and I was willing to at least accept that. But now I can’t, knowing that the offline game is just as chaotic. The reason I’m calling GT Sport a conservative game is because it puts forward all these rules, expects you to follow them, then proceeds to immediately and blatantly break them in front of you, as Conservatives do. Unlike real racing, there’s no team, there’s no Constructors Championship. Everything is a solo effort. Anything below 3rd place is irrelevant. In other words, all I’m doing is losing and all I have to show for it is a meaningless number going up, with no real points to my name. The game is conservative because trying to follow the rules, showing decorum and respectability and all that shit, will make you a loser. You either look like a loser and complain about unfair it all is as you keep losing, or you start to play dirty like everyone else. That sucks. Racing has politics, yes, but I’m not interested in being the Nancy Pelosi of Motorsport, you know?

It’s a shame. Gran Turismo Sport was a game I was expecting to spend years with (or at least until Sony kills the servers and tells you to buy a PS5, idiot). Maybe I’m approaching this game from the wrong mindset; wanting a regular Gran Turismo, and instead getting this weird yet gorgeous thing that expects you to be an asshole that has to cheat to win. Not a fan. I prefer my skill-based competitive games to be based around skill.

I guess I’ll turn the PS3 back on and load up GT6.

daiki kasho- all my life

r: racing evolution

I’m back to give the people what they want: me talking about racing games! Yeah, I’m as shocked as you that these are as well-liked as they are; I was expecting a bunch of nerds pushing up their glasses and asking me how the latest “Sportsball” went after the first post. Anyways, this game in particular is big enough that it gets its own post, rather than as part of an ADHD-like post where I write a bunch of shit down. Let’s take a look at R: Racing Evolution.

As you no doubt already gathered by the title screen, R: Racing Evolution is a Namco racer. Designed to be a more realistic take on the Ridge Racer series. So no drifting on every turn and making sweet jumps on anything that isn’t a Rally car. Real world sponsors. Real world cars. Honda and Ford replace Assoluto and Age Solo. Think of it as Namco’s take on Gran Turismo. Namco’s take on Gran Turismo, but now asking one very important question:

What if Gran Turismo was horny?

Like, really horny?

Also: what if it was kind of gay and riddled with the kind of lesbian tension people who like Stephen Universe lose their shit over?

Well, that’s R: Racing Evolution.

Okay, so the titties are big and the main characters are primed for their own Archive Of Our Own category. What about the rest of the game? Does it own? Is it sick? The answer to that is yeah, dude.

Like I said, this is a realistic sim, unlike Ridge Racer’s off-the-wall, drift every corner style of driving. The courses can be tough; good lord can the courses be tough. The game doesn’t hold your hand, either: know how to drive going in, or get the fuck out. Hmm, okay, maybe it doesn’t demand that level of perfection out of you, but neither will it take it easy on you.

Something that’s pretty cool about R is that there’s more to it than Stock car racing. You get Rally racing, Classic Car (Privateer) racing, Prototype challenges, and even Drag racing. A lot of variety that’s good for taking someone like me, only really familiar with one type of auto sport, and turning me on (lol) to a whole host of other methods of making car go fast vroom vroom. I might want to consider looking up some Rally races on YouTube later. And the reason why that’s cool is that one of the reasons (I’ll get to the other one later) it took me nearly 34 years to appreciate, let alone enjoy, racing was because it looked so boring. All left turns for about a million laps. Between playing this game and sitting down to watch the 2020 Indy 500, I can easily understand why racing on a ring can be exciting to someone the same way watching a race on a varied track with lots of hard turns is for me. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into it: intentionally driving slower than normal, not breaking out of the pack, so as to stay within the slipstream of other cars around you, allowing you to speed right the fuck up as the race gets closer to the end. That’s pretty cool.

That’s the mechanical side. R:RE is a fun ass racer that feels good to play. But what makes it memorable and makes it stand out amongst the other racing games of the era is its story mode. It’s fucking great. The game suddenly goes all “sports manga” on you, and focuses less on realism, and more on the drama on and off the track.

BREAK TIME

 

The main character is an EMT with big titties who gets recruited to a racing team after taking one of their drivers to the hospital via sick racing moves. I’ll spare you all a big synopsis, but know that it involves all of the different racing modes and competing for championships. Along the way, shit gets all fucked up. Like fuck dude, there’s implications that your team is owned by the mob, and that people who try to leave don’t do so alive. But much like the game itself, I will have to drop this plot point after one sentence. Kind of a big problem here: a lot of stuff is not resolved. Whether there was a rush put on the game, or if there were plans to expand on the story in a sequel that never came, I don’t know. But it’s a shame you only get glimpses or the really out-there elements.

The parts of R’s story that stick with you are the in-game radio conversations. It goes above and beyond the standard team radio you hear in real racing. Now, you have the pit crew having full conversations in your ear. You can hear your opponents talk shit about you, or conversely, freak the fuck out as you start to overtake them. Everything feels more competitive, even more personal at times, as a result.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing, but I love it. The whole thing comes across as an extension of what Ridge Racer 4 was trying in its Grand Prix mode.

Actually, hold on. Is it cool if I go way the fuck off-topic and talk about how sick Ridge Racer 4 is for a moment? It’ll all tie back into this piece about R: Resident Evil.

R4 was the first racing game I played for any real length of time. I was in middle school at the time, didn’t care much for cars, but I was a young mark and easily susceptible to hype for upcoming Playstation games. I had a shit time around cars as a kid. Growing up with alcoholics driving you everywhere while drunk. Trying to learn how to drive when you’re older as they scream at you for going 26 in a 25. The closest thing to a racing fan club is the derelict house across the street where White Trash drink cheap beer and get into fist fights. I did not like vehicles. They were loud, they broke all the time, and I went about 18 years never having a single good experience inside of one (before someone makes a joke about virginity and teenage sex, I didn’t fuck in cars. I fucked in strangers bedrooms at parties thrown by rich kids that I knew from school). I mentioned before that I’m still prone to anxiety attacks behind the wheel. Well, now you know why. But Ridge Racer 4, in its infinitely cool, stylish way, showed me that there was another side to cars. That they could be fun, that they could be part of the most interesting sport in the world. I liked the game a lot, but ultimately, I filed it away as “video games are video games, and real life is a shitshow where everyone yells way too much.” And besides, racing is just cheap redneck shit where you load up on Bud Lite, make out with your sister at the track, and get home in time for your klan rally, right? In my mid-30s, I’m regretting all the time I spent ignoring the sport, but you can understand my thought process.

Anyways. While working on my own game development, I’ve been rolling around the idea of a racing game in my head. Influenced by R4’s story mode, I wanted to make something that could appeal to someone in my position: a game about cars for someone who has bad experiences with them. More dialogue during races, rivalries played out during and between races, all types of cool shit like that. Then I played R: Racing Evolution, and realized Namco themselves beat me to the punch 17 years ago.

This is what I wanted out of a racing game, and I got it. A game that could make a non-fan understand why someone would love the sport so much. Something to help you visualize the beauty of the track, and the skill that the drivers navigate it with. Which is why I’m giving my highest possible recommendation for you to play it; it runs really fucking well in Dolphin. The game owns bones. And it has big titties in it, and really, who can hate that?