Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Arcade Racing Games #3

Konami GT a.k.a. Konami RF2 - Red Fighter (1985)
By: Konami Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 6,090
Also Available For: Nothing

Is this a racing game or a body-building game?
One of the most appealing things about going to an arcade for me has always been playing the kinds of games that can't be played anywhere else. A great example of that is racing games. Even the most basic machines have a steering wheel and gear-stick but when I find a full-size simulator machine, it's like a moth to a flame! Accordingly, I've played quite a few of them over the years and had many in mind for this series of features at Red Parsley. One that I didn't have in mind, however, was Konami GT. The main reason for this is because a week ago I hadn't heard of it. Having recently spotted it though, I required little persuasion to give it a try, and soon found... not really what I was expecting. Konami GT, you see, fancies itself as a Le Mans style circuit racer, at least judging by the original arcade flyer, but that may have been somewhat ambitious for its time...

You start behind a load of other cars? Never!
The flyer is the only evidence of this though, for Konami GT is an early example of a racing game viewed via a 'dashboard-cam' which of course means you can see very little of your own car. The road ahead is filled with many opposing cars but these give no clue to the type of race you're in either - they just look like family saloons (or 'sedans', for the benefit of our American friends) to me! Nonetheless, it is against these vehicles, as well as some slightly less-numerous motorcycles, that you'll find yourself racing. Apparently no positions are at stake and nor, surprisingly, is there a time limit - the only thing standing between you and presumably infinite revolutions of the unnamed circuit is a definitely-not-infinite supply of fuel. There are five checkpoints at roughly equal intervals around the course, passing each of which awards you with bonus points, but the only way to gain additional fuel is by collecting the appropriate icons hovering above the track occasionally. However, even reaching these requires some pretty skilful driving.

Oof! It doesn't take much to cause one of these!
Fuel is used pretty quickly, you see. Driving gradually depletes your supply anyway but your car also has the use of a 'turbo' which eats it up further still, and crashes do the same. Your car will explode in a large fireball from the merest touch as well, and this is the main reason for the game's high difficulty. It's not possible to veer off the road, although approaching the edge causes you to lose speed quickly, so contact with other vehicles is the only way you can crash and there are quite a few of them so crashes come often, or they did for me at least! As well as being difficult, Konami GT is also a game that hasn't aged well either. There are a few short tunes and only a couple of sound effects in-game, and the graphics aren't great. The vehicles look okay from a distance but they get very blocky close-up, and there's barely anything else to look at due to the absence of much in the way of scenery and complete absence of roadside objects.

You'll often see it but may not reach it in time!
Games of this type are bound to seem horribly dated these days though. I've no idea how well regarded this one was in its day and its shortcomings are totally understandable considering the genre was then in its infancy, but I can't imagine many gamers would give it more than a couple of minutes nowadays, and why would they? This is surely the genre that most benefits from the wonders of modern console technology and this early example doesn't really offer any innovations so it will probably be of little historical interest, and neither is there much incentive for prolonged play. I did find it rather addictive I have to say, but my interest in it was mainly for curiosity's sake to see if there was anything more to it than what was initially apparent. It seems the answer to this is 'no', however, and I guess I must concede that I'm unlikely to play it again. A slightly unusual oddity then, and not one that time has been kind to. I wonder if it was ever any good?

RKS Score: 4/10

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