Form feet and legs. Form arms and body.

And I’ll form the head.

Review: Import Tuner Challenge

Posted by rapaleeman on June 2, 2008

Well here’s a game that went completley under the radar.  Hell, I even missed it.  Ubisoft screwed around with the name when it brought it to the Xbox 360.  Most people know it as Shutoku Battle X.  Ring a bell?  No?  How about Tokyo Xtreme Racer?  Ahh there we go.

A series that started on the PS One, but gaining massive fame and popularity on the defunct Sega Dreamcast.  It was a racing game that blended realistic car models (without licensing, but named after their engines which was pretty funny), amazing environments, crazy tuning, and what can best be described as street racing meets Street Fighter.  Yeah the one with Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li.  Weird but it worked.

To catch up those of you who have missed this amazing series here goes.  You essentially drive an accurately modeled version of Tokyo’s highway system and search for rivals.  You can tune and customize your car extensively.  I mean seriously customize.  Everything from gears and camber/toe, all the way to the stickers on your car.  Oh, this was before Need for Speed and the Fast and the Furious. 

Random Fact: Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero (the third version and the Playstation 2 premier) had a trailer and stickers from the Fast and the Furious to promote the movie.  It worked so well that Genki, the makers were hired to create a FaTF (not typing it out again dammit) game and you can see a trailer for it on the dvd for 2 Fast 2 Furious.  Too bad they lost the license to Bandai since the game looked sweet.  End Fact.

Once you had a pimped out ride you then took to the streets.  You cruised to find an opponent, flash your high beams and challenge them to a race.  Once accepted, Street Fighter power bars (well SP Spirit Points but come on that’s just stupid) and go at it for as long as it takes.  You take the lead and your opponent’s bar dropped.  You hit a wall, car, or get too far behind and you lose points.  You go until one of you has zero SP.  Plus you get some sweet battle music too.  Once you beat all those rivals in one gang, you can take on the master and some wanderers. 

That’s it folks.  Nothing too complicated at all.  Simple concept yet the game is extremely long and ultimately fun.  With something like 300 opponents plus bosses it can take a while.  Import Tuner Challenge lives up to that tradition and honestly hasn’t changed very much.

The graphics are better.  Not much but they are better.  The modelling of the cars and engines look fantastic, the same with the interior.  The rest of the game looks just like a high resolution version of Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3.  Not bad, just really sparse.  The lights and reflections do look a lot better.

The handling has gotten a little better.  You still drive like you are on ice, but the series has always been drift heavy.  Overall, the AI drives better too and is actually a lot more challenging, especially in the early races when you have no money and your car sucks.  Once you get a better car (real cars and names this time) and customize it the game gets extremely fun and a little easier, yet harder at the same time.  It’s a good balance and is extremely time consuming, but in a good way.

The Quest mode now has a slight story.  Kinda dumb but it doesn’t hurt or get in the way so it’s cool.  The music is generic rock/battle music.  It works and is awesome.  There is an online mode now, but good luck trying to find people to race.  It wasn’t very popular when it came out and it isn’t now.  Split screen works with little to no slow down.

My only real complaint is the lack of cars.  There are only about 20, not counting the variations or special cars.  Granted they all look good and perform well, but seriously.  That is a terrible number.  The issue is there are something like 300 rivals.  You will see each one of these cars again.  And again.  And again.  Granted they look different based on the different mods, but we all know better don’t we?

All in all, even without an active online mode and limited car selection this game is awesome.  For what it lacks in technical prowess it makes up for it in sheer fun and length.  I have enjoyed every version (yes even Street Supremacy for the PSP) and this one was no exception.  I am actually playing through it again now, hence the random review.  If your a car nut (specifically street racing) and want to race, this is the game to get.  Plus it should be cheap.  If the premise above sounded remotely interesting then buy it.  Worth every penny.  The beginning is a tad slow though.  Give it an hour.




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