This Week’s Releases (April 3-7, 2006)

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Week thirty-four of my ongoing, irreverent news column; originally posted at Next Generation.

Game of the Week:

Tourist Trophy
Polyphony Digital/SCEA
PlayStation 2

Back when the PlayStation was new, Ken Kutaragi asked all his employees for new game ideas. It didn’t matter how silly; he just wanted input. In particular, he wanted a mix of input from people who were deeply invested in videogames and people who barely had anything to do with them. Kazunori Yamauchi’s response was that he wanted to be able to drive his own car on his television screen. Kutaragi thought that was sort of clever, so he put Yamauchi in charge of producing that game; what Yamauchi turned up with, of course, was Gran Turismo.

Gran Turismo is, as these terms go, a very hardcore game – not necessarily in the “hardcore videogame” sense, except as far as a person who is hardcore about anything technical can usually apply that to something else hardcore and technical; it’s hardcore in the sense that it is an ode to the motorcar in all the layers of obsessiveness you might ascribe to a Gundam. Each game incorporates an increasingly disturbing number of makes and models, each tuned to as close an approximation as possible, given the current state of videogames – all for the ultimate goal of allowing the player to reproduce his exact car (or perhaps his dream car) and drive it from the safety of his living room.

That’s an impressive effort for an idea that, on the surface, sounds so pointless. Continue reading “This Week’s Releases (April 3-7, 2006)”