Tourist Trophy

Tourist Trophy

It's like Gran Turismo with motorcycles! Oh, wait, no it isn't.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 13, 2006
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It's probably the first and only way people will describe Tourist Trophy, that whole "Gran Turismo with bikes" comparison. And yes, much of what is in TT came directly from GT4, most notably the gorgeous graphics engine, which gives the game a distinct "this shouldn't be running on the PS2" feeling, but poking a bit under the surface, you'll find a game that's perfect for tinkering, exceptionally deep... and a bit too hardcore for the common consumer.


While GT is the obsessive compulsion of creator Kazunori Yamauchi, it's about cars. It's about everything related to cars, yes (and, well, now photos too, which carries over into TT), but the experience is relegated to four-wheeled modes of tearing ass around a track. There's a very good reason for this: whereas auto racing is a passion for Yamauchi, he's got no experience in riding a motorcycle, and so TT was handed over to Polyphony Digital producer Takamasa Shichisawa, who quickly put his team to work stuffing bikes into the GT4 framework.

The result isn't as half-assed as you'd imagine. It's not quite getting peanut butter in chocolate, but motorcycles -- from crotch rockets to roadsters (and not much else in between) -- actually work in a world built from repurposed GT4 tracks. More than 35 of them in all are present, but they've been tweaked a bit, with skinnier roads and what feels like more pronounced (or likely precise) changes in the roadway's elevation, this means that you can certainly revisit the Special Stage Route 5, rip around Laguna Seca, fly through Autumn Hill or even challenge the twists of Nurburgring, and it'll certainly look as good as GT4, but it certainly won't drive like those tracks.

Part of this is due to the fact that the game is unmercifully exacting in how it handles the physics of both the rider and the bike. In much the same way GT4 would give you the sensation of feeling two tires slip by subtle rumble feedback and visual cues, TT gives you hints about how the bike and/or rider are doing at all times. This also means you'll bail. A lot. Because of how subtle gradations in the terrain affect two tires instead of four, and because of how momentum, braking and wind resistance affect the bike, beginners will likely be pitched off their bikes more often than they complete turns during races. It's just one of those games.

I'm assuming, of course, that if you bail incessantly like I did, it's probably because you have no experience in riding. I don't, and as the people in the office watching me play quickly found out, I very plainly sucked at the game. You can improve how you play by running through all the license tests, but it wasn't until I did a little research about how and when to brake, how to pitch my body how to use the throttle and brake (both use the DualShock 2's analog buttons more than any game I can recall) that it actually started making a real difference in the game.

Then again, even armed with this knowledge I could only fool around with the actual hardcore tweaks, and never really understood how a lot of them worked in the grand scheme -- certainly not enough to switch between two profiles for my bikes. The sheer number of options is even more imposing than those found in GT4; suspension, brake balance, tire material, exhaust levels and gear ratios (and in the smaller scooters, roller weight) can all be adjusted. The game does a fairly good job of explaining the ins and outs of each, but it'll still take some research if you don't ride.

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