We talked, we laughed, and we joked. It was a truly enjoyable evening. On the way up the stairs to the car park I could see she had a truly enjoyable ass (remember guys, walk 3 steps behind your lady when climbing stairs). It couldn’t have been better. I walked her to her door, said goodnight and asked her if she wanted to go out again. “Sure. I had a great night. Call me tomorrow!” And that was that. Kirsty was mine.
So the next day I called her as I’d promised and she’d asked. Funny… Her phone was switched off. “Ah well, I’ll try her again later. She’s probably at work.” 10pm came and I called again. “Hmmm… She must have had an early night or something”. And so on that went for a week until I thought “Hmmm, something’s up here. I’ll ask her best friend.”
Her best friend was no more the wiser than me. “I’ve not been able to get hold of her all week.” she said. This is when you kind of start to panic. Is she OK? Maybe she’s dead? Or a family member has been killed and she’s on the run from Scotland Yard due to circumstantial evidence planted by her demented half-brother Richard Stevenson-Harris? You just don’t know. So I called her every night for another week and a half until eventually deciding that Scotland Yard had probably caught up with her. With his half-sister's misery completing the final part of the puzzle, Richard Stevenson-Harris could finally control the oceans and take over the world with his waves of powerful briny fury.
Another couple of weeks later, a friend of mine asked me how we were getting on and I’d explained my plight to him with the use of diagrams, over-expressive body language and foul language. “Maybe you should call her again?” he offered. So I did. And she answered and hung up immediately. I followed this up with a text message. “Where have you been? I’ve been worried.” The terse reply was not what I’d been hoping for. “I don’t want to see you again. Can’t you take the hint? What are you, a psycho?”
Well, so sorry! There was me thinking that when she said “I had a great night. Call me tomorrow!” she actually meant “I had a great night. Call me tomorrow!” What she actually meant was “Please never speak to me again. I don’t like you.” Funny how the two sexes interpret what we say completely differently, isn’t it? Cleverly, because she’d left her phone off for a whole month to avoid me, she lost contact with a large number of her friends and probably died alone (although I can’t verify that she’s actually dead). And to think if she’d used some common sense and just let me down on the night or the next day, none of that would have ever happened.
Of course not all women are that stupid. Just the ones I date. Indeed, I’m sure Emily Pankhurst would have still thrown herself under that horse, but not before slapping Kirsty upside the head for letting the side down. In the commotion, the evil Richard Stevenson-Harris could have stolen the time machine and travelled back to prehistoric times, enslaved the dinosaurs and brought them back to 1992 and destroyed the Earth with his evil Dinoslaves™. Such horrors don’t bear thinking about.
Why am I boring you with a story of unrequited love? It’s simple. Touge R is the most pointlessly rubbish and derivative driving game I’ve played in a long time, and I thought that by telling you the story, you might at least derive some entertainment from something with the name Touge R on it. The Touge (which translates as “Mountain Road”) series began on PSone. It was the first mountain racing title, cashing in on the popularity of Initial D before Sega, Sammy and Taito even thought about it. Since then a lot has changed. You no longer have to be Polyphony or have their resources to make a decent racing title these days and most importantly Initial D and Kaido Battle have completely covered the mountain racing sub-genre from both arcade and simulation angles.
Atlus have added all of the standard modes. There’s Carrozzeria which is like your standard Gran Turismo-esque mode where you buy cars and earn money to add more bits to said cars. There are a variety of different race types, all of which you’ll have seen before, such as a manufacturers' cup, drivetrain cup and various braking, acceleration and skill tests. You also have Challenge Race, which is another name for arcade mode. You have the option to choose any car and any course and whether you race against one or two randomly chosen opponents. Then we have a free run mode which is rather self-explainatory, as you would think the 2Players mode would be as well, but 2Players bafflingly allows up to four players to compete. Fair play to Atlus for breaking down the boundaries of achievement within the two player mode…
The cars on offer are pretty much exactly the same cars you’ve driven in every other Japanese racing game ever. Obviously the Truenos, Skylines and Civics are in full effect, all of which come in a variety of colours. Interestingly each car's default colour is the same as the colour sported by the “star cars” in Initial D, so the Silvia is minty green and the Civic SiR is red. Make of that what you will.
The problem with said cars is that the handling varies between awful and average. Who knows, maybe the handling is incredibly realistic, but it’s certainly not much fun. The amount of deceleration before the cars even attempt to turn is excessive and races become a start-stop-start affair as you attempt to navigate the hairpins. This is quite a shame as some of the courses are rather nicely laid out.
Presentation-wise, the game looks like a polished PS2 title. There is some quite nice detail on the cars and the texturing on the courses is above average, but the visuals lack the overall polish that you find in most racing games these days. The sound effects are utterly dreadful, with cars sounding like hoovers and drifts sounding like a sewing machine in full flow. The music is passable, but certainly nothing special, a problem worsened by the lack of selectable soundtrack.
Touge R has all the ingredients of a decent racing title, but like so many before on the market, the cooking has gone horribly wrong, leaving you with a title which isn’t so much truly awful, but below par and uninteresting enough to make you think it’s awful. Initial D and Kaido Battle are both far more fun mountain racing games and whilst neither are available on Xbox, there are also far better Xbox racing games available anyway.
Maybe it’s yet another dastardly plot by the charismatic Richard Stevenson-Harris to destroy importers spirits with sub-par racing game? If so, you’d better sleep with one eye open cos I’m coming to get you, you evil son of a bitch…
Text by James Sweatland / Burai