May 20, 1999 - 9:45pm
Tokyo Xtreme Racing (Shutokou Street Battle): Surprise of the Show

Having to wade through the incessant crowds in Sega's booth at e3, I was constantly amazed at what I witnessed. Soul Calibur was easily 4 times what the System 12 arcade was. The graphics have been entirely redone by Namco to live up to gleaming Dreamcast standards. It continually magnetized gawking spectators-and I witnessed a few Sega nay-sayers turned to Dreamcast fans because of this very game.

Other games followed this example, such as Dynamite Cop (Dynamite Deka 2): the Dreamcast version of this game was noticeably improved over the Model 2 version: Textures were impeccably crafted, the resolution was high, and the colors seemed rather vibrant. Definitely one to look out for.

However, despite tons of arcade ports and graphically enticing set-ups (NBA 2000 and NFL 2000 look real)… there was one game tucked back in the corner of Sega's booth that took everyone… not just me… by surprise. The game was called Shutokou Street Battle (The North American version is being ported by Crave and will go by the name Tokyo Xtreme Racing here) and it was a huge surprise. Genki, the company who ported the admirable version of Virtua Fighter 3tb to the Dreamcast, is heading up development for this title. When I first saw the game, my mouth fell agape and a strange regret found its way inside me. Why you ask? Well, it seems-and the consensus is rather clear, ask any e3 attendee-that Genki has single-handedly dethroned all companies-even Sega-as having the most impressive racing game on the show floor. Folks, this one rivaled the Playstation 2 demo.

The game was set so that the players got to test a night course. Tokyo Xtreme ran at a blistering 60 frames per second with absolutely no slow-down. Environment mapping on the cars were unbelievable: as the car passed a lamp post or streetlight, its light source shimmered beautifully off the body of the car. As racing got faster and more intense, a neat light-blur effect set in: the tail-lights and ambient light on either side of the road began to blur-creating an Akira-esque sense of speed-extraordinary.

Also, the gameplay was such that the player's adrenaline level rose to almost painful levels. While racing on a busy, traffic-ridden array of streets smack-dab in the center of Tokyo, the player has a rival racing him/her. Both of you are given one bar of energy, not unlike the energy system in a fighting game. When your rival passes you, your energy steadily begins to decrease. If your energy runs out, you lose, so you must stay ahead of your competition at all times. Sound fun? It truly is.

My mission with this article is to convince any reader to pick this game up-you will NOT regret it. The game is just that good and the graphics are phenomenal. I'm certainly glad I didn't pass by this gem at e3, discounting it as being nothing more than another "me too" racing game. When you pass it by on the store shelves, be sure to snag your copy quickly. It's due 9.9.99!

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