Monday, 17 April 2017

Snes Review 116: Top Gear 2

Top Gear was one of the first racing games to be released on the Super Nintendo, that's probably one of the reasons I made it one of the early reviews I did for the SNES (it was my 27th review). I wanted to leave it a good while before touching on the sequel but I guess I went and forgot and left it alone for a bit to long, so here I am a long time latter looking at its Sequel Top Gear 2 or as the Japanese would name it Top Racer 2. Again this game was nothing to do with the show of the same name.

Top Gear 2 was released in August 1993 for the SNES about a year after the first one. The original game was only released on the SNES and although Top Gear 2 came out on the SNES first it made its way to both the Mega Drive/Genesis and the Amiga in 1994.

Just like with the first game Top Gear 2 was developed by Gremlin Interactive and published by Kemco (On the SNES at least Vic Tokai published it for the MegaDrive/Genesis but that's not really relevant here).

When reviewing the first game I noted that before making Top Gear as the same developers had created the famous Lotus games which had been released earlier on the Amiga and the Sega Mega Drive and that therefore they had a fair degree of experience in this field, so by this point you'd hope that with having both that experience and having previously worked with the SNES and having produced a very well received racer they would have an excellent base to work from, then again there is the chance they'd just slap a 2 on it and add a token sprinkle of extra content, so if you are so inclined you can play a little game here and try to guess which way this will go.

If you have played the original Top Gear then when you start playing Top Gear 2 you are likely to notice very quickly that this time you do not get to choose a starting car. In the original game you had a choice of four cars to choose from. When you first start racing if you have played the original you will probably find that it feels pretty much the same. Yet it doesn't take long at all for you to realise that there is a lot more challenge here, in the original game it was quiet easy to quickly find yourself in first place again and again its not quiet like that this time around, in this one you have to fight to come in a decent place, I am not saying this is a bad thing however it depends on what your personal opinion is when it comes to a challenge.

The main reason you don't pick a car is because this game is more about upgrading, the higher place you manage to finish in the higher amount of cash you win, and with the cash you win you buy upgrades for your car, ones to make it more durable, to make it steer better, or to make it accelerate faster for example. This does add an extra layer to the game but does it make things better well yes and no. It does add to the game, it gives you more of a reason to race and something to do with the cash you earn, it also makes you feel like you have a career to pursue but there is a fly in the ointment so to speak. The problem is that with how much you earn being connected to where you place it can mean that if you are qualifying but not placing high enough to make enough cash then you can find that you back yourself into a corner where the competitors appear to be more upgraded than you are and you have set yourself up for failure.

If you want to do well overall then you will need to learn to upgrade wisely and consistently so as not to find yourself in a place where you are outclassed by the competition. Yeah if your opponents didn't get harder then this would ruin the whole upgrading idea basically making you unbeatable once you'd slapped on a few upgrades, when you think of it like this its a very hard to implement a system like this and have it work, one way they could have worked around this would be to have you be allowed to enter extra races, for example prize only races which while not progressing the game allow you to earn the extra money you might not have made if you hadn't placed high enough.

The game also features something else the original didnt and thats damage, your car can become damaged and then drive worse and slower, this makes you need to be a little more careful, if this is a good thing or not depends on if you like being careful.

Ok so I realise that I have spent the vast majority of this review comparing it to the first one but thats because its these diffrences which make it a came of its own. Yes the grasphics  and sound are roughly the same as the first entry but they have changed enough things to make this more than a cookie cutter sequel, is it better or is it worse? Well that strongly depends on what you want in a racer, do you want upgrades and damage or not? If you want those things try this game if you dont then the first is best for you. I would give this the exact same score 7 out of 10 and just say go for the one which sounds the most like your kind of thing.

When I talked about the original I said that it was cheaper to get the second one with the first one being about £8 for an import or £15 for a UK version (cart only) and I said the sequel would be cheaper, its funny how times change, when I did a little searching for this review I found you can now get Top Gear for the SNES for around £8 for a Uk version and there actually seems to be a lot less copies of the sequel around with the cheapest copy I could find being £15 for a loose cart. I guess it just goes to show how the retro game market can change and flow one way and another.

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