This is your chance of a lifetime to tune Japanese cars. Available for tuning are 23 different rides, including Mazda RX8, Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer. The possible variables of tuning amount to over 5 million. In addition, the player gets to burn rubber on the most prominent streets of Japan. But in the end, what kind of package has Genki created?
Hundred Ways to Tune a Ride
The game focuses on tuning from the very beginning. Ten different game modes are included, but they dont differ from one another significantly. You will begin the game with your pockets full of money, so you can go shopping immediately. After purchasing a nice, shiny Japanese sports car, you might be tempted to go for a spin. However, this is not the wisest decision.
First you do not go driving, but instead you take time tuning your new ride. Most of the car parts are replaceable, and you can tune the power, looks and functionality of your car. There is plenty to choose from, but a beginner cannot afford all the best power boosts. The multitude of choices can get a bit frustrating at times, but it offers a true freedom of choice without too many limitations. Keep in mind though, that you really should reserve plenty of time for choosing the right décor for your ride.
Hit the Road!
When youve had enough of meticulous tuning and you have the perfect racer in the garage, it is time to start the actual racing. The player can choose from different well-known Japanese streets, which are open for racing during the night. At first, the streets and weird curves can be a bit confusing, but youll get used to them soon enough. The street tracks arent half bad, but their number is quite modest. The streets feel a bit too familiar after only a few hours of game play, there doesnt seem to be very much variety.
The racing seems easy while youre listening to techno and speeding through the half empty streets. The cars are easily controllable but all of them suffer from a problem common to Japanese cars: understeering. At the same time, the controls are overly sensitive, which makes for an interesting driving experience. Adding to the exotic feel of steering is the soft suspension, which makes the cars swing from one side to another. On the other hand this renders possible the impressive slides you can pull off in the street corners. After you have learned all the tricks, controlling the car is a piece of cake. You know how to react to all possible situations, even when youre driving at top speed.
A Duel in Osaka
Even though the tuning of your car takes precedence, the races are still executed with street credibility. You can race against 200 different opponents in duel-type races. Sadly, the opponents all drive similarly and the differences between them are mainly cosmetic. If you want to win a race, you have to lose your opponent. Once you cant see him in your rear-view mirror, youre declared winner and you win a nice wad of money. The opponents AI is ancient as is their appearance. The look of the game is outdated and even the nicely modelled cars cant change that. The environment consists mostly of wet asphalt and dark multi-storey buildings. The frame rate stays relatively smooth, which is to be expected since the amount of detail is low.
Basically, the racing experience is quite a disappointment. The only incentive for racing is money, and in the end it is not that fun or rewarding. Obviously the possibility of tuning your cars is the biggest feature, and they have managed to make it work. Racing against opponents in Live is a bit more rewarding, and offers a better image of the game engine.
Import Tuner Challenge cant be called a racing game. Perhaps a better description would be a tuning simulation. Tuning is fun and rewarding, but to give the game more content, the racing should have been improved. The game offers no goals or meaning to the constant tuning.