SEGA Touring Car Championship

SEGA Touring Car Championship
Game Name: SEGA Touring Car Championship
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): AM Annex
Genre(s): Racing
Release Date: December 1997
Serial Number: MK81216-50
Region: PAL

Sega Touring Car Championship ScreenshotYou’ve got Daytona, you’ve played Sega Rally to death, what next for the Saturn playing petrol head?
Well you could do worse than this, Sega Touring Car. Before everyone thinks that I’ve gone mad, let me make the defence for this game. Yes it got poor reviews, yes there were many faults to it, but for a quick blast this really is worth owning, and quick bursts of adrenaline are exactly what arcade games are all about.

Sega Touring car is very loosely based upon what was at the time the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC), the cars most closely resemble modern day DTM cars, and they had official licences. Racing was purely arcade style, fast, frantic and intense. The AI of the rival cars left a little to be desired, but with narrow circuits you need to rub panels and push others off line. If your sick of modern day racing simulations then this is the antidote.

Sega Touring Car Championship ScreenshotThe soundtrack is a love or hate it affair, very loud and over the top, personally I think it suits the game perfectly. Graphically the game isn’t perfect, at times it suffers with clipping, and when its busy there is occasional slow down, but overall its not a bad conversion of an impressive looking arcade game.

Right lets deal with the problems the game has. Firstly Sega Touring Car is simply not as good a game in the arcades as Sega Rally or Daytona, therefore the Saturn conversion likewise is not as good as Sega Rally or Daytona. When the game was forty quid this was an issue, now that you’ll pick it up for around a fiver it is not.

Sega Touring Car Championship ScreenshotThe next issue, critics would argue that the game is too short. Well yes it is, but that complaint could be levelled at a number of racing games in the 32 bit era, by their nature arcade conversions are short, and developers had not at this point started to add a wealth of extras for the player at home. AM2 didn’t add much to the home versions of Virtua Cop, yet we don’t attack them over that.

final two problems with the game are more serious. The first concerns the fact that you never feel remotely like the car is driving on a surface.
When you go off on the grass there is no feeling of a differing terrain. Sega rally perfected a feeling of driving that Touring Car does not match, but then again neither did the arcade original. I feel that AM2 have been faithful in this regard to their original game, and you either accept it or you don’t. The final flaw is unforgiveable though, and that is context sensitive steering.

Sega Touring Car Championship ScreenshotContext sensitive steering is where if you steer the car on the straight it has a different affect to if you steer the car on a corner. For example half lock on the wheel on a straight may move the car a little to the right, do the same on a corner and the car will veer violently off into the barriers. The worst thing about it is that there is no smooth transition between the two pitches of steering. One moment your steering correctly, the next moment you are not, and it ruins the game.

Try the game with analog pad, digital pad, steering wheel, it will make no difference (actually it will, but not enough of one). This is a real shame. It stops this game from receiving top marks, and stops it from being a game you’ll play all the time, instead you’ll just come to it occasionally for a quick thrill, and you’ll always come away thinking of what could have been.

Should you still buy it? I think so, if only to own a part of Sega’s arcade history.

*It’s worth knowing though that the Saturn code was released on the PC on the Xplosiv label. I saw it recently in a supermarket for 99p, (Xplosiv did a range of Saturn games, all identical to the Saturn code). This version uses the Keyboard for steering. It remains context sensitive, although actually I found it better to play than on the Saturn with the pad

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