If you’re into the import scene, odds are you’ve heard of Initial D before. If not, we’ll lay it out for you briefly…Initial D is about the story of a teenager named Takumi who makes deliveries for his fathers Tofu business in an 80’s era Toyota AE86 (known stateside as a Corolla GTS). HIs father is demanding and after years of practice making quick deliveries at his behest, Takumi has become a very talented driver on the challenging mountain roads in his region. He attracts the attention of local car clubs and begins competing against and dominating cars that should be much faster. Over time, Takumi learns more about motorsports and acquires new skills with every opponent he faces until he becomes a local legend.
These stories began as comics in Japan and later became a popular animated series. This show is partially responsible for the current popularity of drifting and the revival of the AE86 in the classic white/black “panda” scheme. The DVD’s are best viewed in Japanese as the English dubbing is lame.
So, finally…the game. SEGA has a number of Initial D titles in the arcade and the PS3 version is largely the same. You will choose from a variety of cars and earn points to modify them in order to help defeat your opponents in one-on-one battles in the mountains (just like the show). Unlike the show, there are no english subtitles for the cut-scenes in story mode and that takes away a bit of fun. However, this is a cool game if you’re a fan. And whats best is PS3 games are not region locked so you can buy from a number of online sources and enjoy! Some copies are even available with English manuals…
Onto the review…this game really reminds me of the original Ridge Racer. Hit the brakes before a corner and the car slides. If you get back on the throttle mid corner, the car slides. The one difference is that ANY mistake in this game will cost you precious time and give the advantage to your opponent. The goal is to maintain as much speed as you can in each corner and avoid the wall. It takes some time to get used to the driving physics (using the term physics here very loosely). In game graphics are colorful and cartoony but this game barely uses the PS3’s capability. Cut-scene graphics are, well…creepy. They try to make 3D CGI characters in the style of the animated show, but it doesn’t really work. They would have done better to actually create some animation traditionally and specifically for the game.
The soundtrack is very faithful to the show as each song is of that strange Japanese electronic/dance/rock genre. It’s weird, but it’s fun and energetic…I know people that actually listen to it in their cars when they go out for a spirited drive!
Overall, this game is most fun for fans of the show. You’ll encounter classic enemies and battle through some challenging roads on the mountain pass. Want to drive the AE86? Of course you do. But you can also take out Bunta’s WRX or Ryosuke’s FC RX-7…pretty much every car from the show is here. If you’re NOT a fan, it will be more difficult to get into the game. However, if you like the original Ridge Racer, chances are you will find some fun here as well and maybe it will get you interested in a show that has a crazy cult following.