For the most part, Chi nailed the same points I wanted to focus on. However, we differed on a few aspects of what makes Tokyo Xtreme Racer good or bad. We certainly agreed on how good a job Genki did modeling the cars in the game. Right from the start, the detail and graphical effects used really caught our eye and indeed are a sign of what awaits users down the road (no pun intended). We also agreed about one of the game's negatives like the lack of an ability to reverse. With so many crashes and the potential for going the wrong way so prevalent in a game like this, the lack of such an option makes it exorbitantly difficult to keep up with opponents, especially during the more difficult races. I also agreed with Chi regarding the cars' loss of control with an increase in overall speed. If this was a game with a track consisting of long straight-aways and gradual turns, I wouldn't complain, but with so many twists and turns, a car that can't handle well is rendered useless.
It's after those points that Chi and I begin to disagree. To start with, I can't believe that there was only one track to race on the entire time I was playing. In its defense, there are two tracks, but the second one is just a mirror track so you get the same scenery as the first track, only in a different order. One of the major draws of a racing game is being able to race along multiple and unique tracks in whatever car you are given. Any omission of such a feature would bring a game's rating down, and Tokyo Xtreme Racer suffers this fate. Chi wasn't fond of the upgrading feature, and while I can agree that upgrading gets to be rather unimportant after the car is close to maxed out, it was still pretty cool up until then. I for one was able to notice improvements in my car's performance in almost every upgrade. It was a little thrilling to see how even a little tweaking of the braking "springiness" meant victory against a driver that was giving me problems. What I will concede though, is that the upgrade process is made difficult by an uninformative instruction manual. I would have appreciated a more detailed explanation of why something would work and why it wouldn't instead of the sparse tip balloons available in the menu. As is, I was left to just guess and use trial and error to judge whatever changes were made, if any.
My biggest gripe with this game however, is the racing model itself. I got really tired of racing around a track trying to find drivers to race against. Sometimes I had wiped a track clean of the competition with the exception of one or two drivers who happened to be on the opposite side of the track. That always left me with two options that were anything but appealing. I could either drop out of the game and then reenter the track, hoping to be placed closer to them; I could sit and wait for them to catch up to me or I could simply try to catch them myself and then challenge them to a race. Either way, it was a huge waste of time and it grew annoying really quick. All in all, I thought that Tokyo Xtreme Racer was a very good game that needed some more polish to really shine. But given the subject matter and availability of cars, this game is unique enough to offer a lot to racing fans that are now tiring of Sega Rally 2 and Hardcore Heat.
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