Saturday, thanks to an urge to get out of the house for at least part of the day, I called a friend, grabbed the roommie, and went to try and track down the Initial D Arcade Stage game which was rumored to exist in an arcade at a miniature golf park. Being shockingly successful at finding the game, we settled in to watch the horde of young asian boys play.
I'm not feeling terribly consice and focused this morning, so this will probably tend to ramble.
First off, about the game. I had one major reason for tracking down the game: I'd heard that it uses the actual courses, with reasonably-simulated actual-place backgrounds. Turns out this is true, but only to an extent. Usui and Myougi they turned into a loop. There are little background things that show up which give cues as to which mountain the course was supposed to be on. So Myougi would show the shrine torii that shows up in the background at the uphill goal line, and Usui would show the Megane-bashi in the background at a certain point. These two courses are the easy-level courses.
For the more advanced levels, the game moves on to Akina, and Happougahara. These two courses are the same as are featured in IniD. I tried Akina, but was really quite pathetic, and couldn't get any farther than the five hairpin turns before I ran out of time. I decided not to waste my money trying Happougahara. If I can't get down Akina, where I have the course mostly memorized, then there's no point to trying a tricky course like Happougahara.
The game mechanics are pretty straightforward. You can either get a "manual" or an automatic for your car. "Manual" means that you will use a little lever to shift -- no clutch involved. The only way really to tell when to shift is by watching the tach. You don't get any feeling from the accelerator that you're maxing out the power for that gear. The basic theory on the level I was on (Myougi, the beginning level -- I never claimed to be any good at these kinds of games!) was, mash the accelerator and get into fifth as fast as possible, then steer a bunch. Let off the gas for one turn; otherwise, keep the pedal to the metal. Don't bother braking, just taking your foot off the accelerator pretty much did everything for that.
Handling-wise, it felt like driving a boat. Okay, maybe it was a little bit better than driving a boat, but it wasn't exactly what I would call responsive. And all the cars seemed to handle pretty much the same. No GT3 real life-ish simulations here. I tried the Integra and the WRX, and noticed no difference between the two. Humph.
The game has a card that you can buy for a buck. They're roughly the size of a Japanese telephone card, and are used to save your race and car information. As you race, you get points, which are then used to upgrade your car. I'm not entirely sure what the upgrades are supposed to do (new wheels, a more impressive-looking spoiler, etc.) The cards have a manga-style picture on it, with a variety of pictures. They're nice enough that I'm contemplating just going and collecting them all. At $2 a pop, they're about as much as a lamika, and are a good deal cheaper than a teraka.
Overall, I thought it was a fun game. I am not a big driving sim fan (we will ignore which games I have for my PS2 and move along here), so I'm not terribly picky on the game mechanics. There's something really motivating about trying to beat the other guy if the other guy happens to be, say, Shingo. (Man, his dialog in the game was obnoxious. They did a nice job keeping him properly annoying.)
There are two noticeable down sides to the game. First, it's one dollar, one race. If you win the race you get more points than if you lose the race. But you don't get to advance on to the next challenger/level.
The second annoying point about the game is that they use the Tokyopoop (*ahem* Sorry, Tokyopop) names. And, clearly, the TP writers. Parts of the dialog, while being faintly amusing, were less in character than your average IniD fanfic on ff.net. No translations here, thankyouvery much.
Oh, and the total number of courses was very limited. Where's Akagi? Shoumaru? Iroha, anyone? Humph. I guess I'll have to track down a copy of the Japanese PSX IniD game to get more variety in the courses. (Though that version won't have Happougahara... Maybe they'll have an updated, PS2 version soon?)
Leaving the golf place, we were rather surprised to see a panda Trueno (yes, it said "Trueno" on the front) with a black carbon fiber hood. From the front, the effect is... eerie. That particular car was a notchback, so the silhouette from the back was very... off. Still, it makes me wonder which of the group of fanboys playing the game was the owner.
(Oh, Cirdan? You were right -- Takumi's does have the headlights in black as well. Me confusled.)