Top Gear Rally

a game by Kemco, Boss Game Studios Inc., and Tantalus Interactive Pty
Genre: Racing
Platforms: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64, GameBoy Color, GBA
Editor Rating: 7.5/10, based on 10 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Rally Games, Top Gear Games, Car Games

By now many of you will be wondering whether we've all gone mad - Top Gear Rally has already been reviewed in a past issue. So what, you might be wondering, could possibly drive us to review it again?

It's not what you might think - we haven't realised that our past review score was wrong and hastily decided to review the same game again in the hope of not looking daft in front of our readers, after all, no halfway decent mag would ever do that! No, we've simply got our hands on the Japanese version of TGRt which happens to be different enough from the US and European versions to warrant another review.

It turns out that rather than simply porting the original game across to Japanese NTSC format. Boss Game Studios have taken the time required to translate some of the text into Japanese to tweak everything somewhat.

Take the cars, for example. All the of the paint jobs have been redone for the island market and, more noticeably, some of the cars from the original version have been replaced with different ones, presumably models expected to be more popular with the game-playing population of Japan.

I Feel The Need...

More important than the aesthetic changes though,are the changes to the gameplay. In-game animation is a lot faster and smoother than before, giving the whole game a lot more pace and excitement. Just as importantly, the handling of the cars - one of the bigger bones of contention in the US/UK versions - has been adjusted, so that the responsiveness of the cars has been improved, and you should find yourself spending a lot less time getting to know the scenery on the bends a trifle intimately.

If you happen to be a brand-new N64 owner, and for some strange reason haven't yet encountered Top Gear Rally, then a brief recap is probably in order.

TGR is a fast-paced rally game -hence the name - which gives you the opportunity to drive a number of different rally-modified vehicles through championship seasons over a variety of different courses. Each course has widely differing terrain, and each contains its own hazards, shortcuts and nicely-designed scenery.

Initially you only have access to a limited number of cars and a couple of the courses, but as you progress through the seasons, you'll unlock newer, tougher courses and gain access to better, faster cars, which you'll need if you want to succeed when competing in the subsequent racing seasons.

Complicating your progress as you race are the other competitors, all of whom are as keen to win as you, and you'll also need to contend with the different environmental conditions, ranging from glaring sun through rain or fog to the ultimate challenge, snow. All these elements also have an effect on the various courses - snow turns previously easy bends into treacherously dangerous obstacles.

In addition to the increasingly powerful 'ordinary' cars, TGR also includes some more unusual bonus vehicles, such as the beachball car, which is constructed from a large ball with four smaller balls as wheels, and the Cupra car, which is basically a blue ice cube on wheels, complete with lights for night racing.

Run Your Mates Into The Ground!

As well as the one player championship mode, TGR also features a one and two player arcade mode, where players can race against a drone car or a friend over their favourite courses in all the various weather conditions. In this mode, though, only the courses and cars that have first been gained in championship mode can be used.

If you find that you're really bad at it, there's also a practice mode, which allows you to drive around the track at your leisure in whatever weather conditions you feel suitable, and thus learn the in and outs of the track without any other cars to distract you.

The cars are fast, but more importantly - in this version - they look fast. You see, the European version had the small problem that if you were watching rather than playing the game, as you probably would be if you were in a shop, then the game didn't actually seem as fast as it did when you were playing it. This does make sense, but you'd have to play it to see what we mean. Hence a lot of people tended to dismiss TGR as too slow after a quick glance. Since the Japanese version plays fast and looks fast, it's no longer a problem.

It's debatable whether or not 'ft's worth anyone who already owns a version of Top Gear Rally rushing out and buying this version. However, the increased speed, superior handling and - in our opinion - better vehicles, do make it a lot more fun to play than the UK/US versions of the game. And priced at only £5 more than the PAL edition (from our importers, at least), it's certainly well worth anyone with the appropriate hardware taking a gander at. If you can ignore the trivially small amount of Japanese text - the vast majority is still in English -then what you get is a superior game for only a slight cost increase!

Download Top Gear Rally

Nintendo 64

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

GBC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

GBA

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

People say:

7.5

I'm surprised by how much I like this game, especially since I wasn't a fan of Top Gear Rally. Top Gear Overdrive looks and feels more like a PS racing title, only a bit smoother and somewhat faster. Actually, make that a lot faster! The frame-rate is really impressive. Flying through a race firing off turbos is a blast. It's like a controlled rollercoaster ride. Decent racing gameplay keeps the cars on the track for the most part. A healthy dose of power-sliding and jumping are heavily featured, but not to the point of stupidity (as in San Francisco Rush). Mainly winning comes down to finding the short-cuts and using them consistently. Occasionally it seems like you "magically" jump up four to five positions but not all the time. Finding those shortcuts can be a real challenge, but lots of fun. Overall, I get that tingly Tm-obsessed-with-winning-all-the tracks-in-one-sitting feeling." That's a good sign. And, while some of the cheap stuff, like exploding on walls and pillars is lame, I still really like this title. Plugging in the RAM Pak increases the frame-rate and resolution, though it's not all that distinguishable. The game is already good-looking. Car selection is cool too-the new VW bug, SUVs, Cameros--they're all good (well, they're not the real cars, but .still...). Overall, a very good game.

7.5

TGO Isn't quite as in-depth and realistic as TG Rally is, but ultimately it's a lot more fun to play. The graphics are excellent (if you've got a RAM Pak, they're even better), and the control, once you get used to it, is sweet. The track designs are impressive (mastering shortcuts is a must!), and being able to play the Champ. Mode with up to 4P rules. The music is grating, and cars blow up too easily, but otherwise I dig TG Overdrive.

8.5

Top Gear Overdrive and WipeOut 64 in one month? Finally some decent racers for the N64. Top Gear Overdrive isn't the most realistic racer around, but that's exactly what I like about it. I had more fun working my way through this game than I've had in any other racer on the system. I attribute this to the variety of courses, sweet control and upgrade/cash system--the game just feels right. It's definitely worth a purchase.

6.5

It seems like there's been an avalanche of racing titles for the N64 recently. Top Gear Overdrive is certainly one of the better efforts, but it's definitely an acquired taste. Each track has many shortcuts to find, which are key to winning. The annoying part is the ease at which your car explodes. A minor fender-bender encases your vehicle in a ball of flames. Powering up your car is fun and multiplayer is a blast. Worth a try.

We at Team EGM have heard about this game forever, and we've finally gotten a chance to get our hands on a playable (if not complete) copy of Kemco's N64 racing game.

Top Gear Rally is one of the more interesting racing games I've played in a while. It them together into one package.

Top Gear Rally is loaded with vehicles, tracks and other variables. The courses can be quite long, and they have multiple branches (some hidden), allowing advanced players to improve their times. They can also be raced backward. Mud. water, ice and nighttime are hazardous conditions you may encounter. When it's dark or rainy, the vehicle's headlights shine the way, snow sticks to tires and mud flies up from behind your wheels.

Mastering the game seems like it could be quite a challenge. Powersliding is a big part of the game, but so is keeping control of your vehicle in adverse conditions. Making the wrong move in icy terrain could really ruin your chances of winning a race.

Surprisingly, there is a shortage of racing games on the N64. Nearing its final stage of completion. Kemco's Top Gear Rally could put an end to this long famine.

  • MANUFACTURER - Kemco
  • THEME - Racing
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4

Until F-1 WGP, the best N64 racer. Excellent car handling, large and detailed courses and 'paint shop' for custom cars.

Some of the fastest, most realistic driving ever to grace a computer game. Well designed tracks help ensure a healthy lifespan.

Cue Allman Brothers music and lanky fluffy-haired presenter in cowboy boots...

Definitely one of the more exciting and adult games coming to the N64 Is Top Gear Rally from BossGame Studios. At the moment It's about 60-70% complete, but already it's wooing the press with some of the best visuals for a car game yet seen. It certainly makes Sega Rally look like it's running on a VIC 20!

The game structure is that you can race through a vast number of widely unpredictable courses, all with varying weather conditions (snow, rain, ice, fog, night time), and at the moment there are nine cars planned, plus two hidden ones. The Toyota Supra is the main car featured in the game so far, but we've also seen a splendid rendered Porsche 911 and 959.

And of course being a rally game, you are not just confined to a rigid track, and as well as being able to clip the sides with only minimal damage, you can also find secret short cuts and learn to avoid some hazardous areas altogether.

As well as being perfectly detailed, the game features loads of killer features such as perfect transparent lighting effects (good for the lights when driving at night), and quite the most realistic snow we've ever seen in a videogame. The game also has that "Need for Speed" knack for realistic physics and inertia, and each car will handle differently according to whether it's front, rear or four wheel drive. We have also heard that you will be able to damage the cars and even roll them if you have a particularly bad accident. There is of course a two player split screen mode (drool).

At the moment the Japanese version of the game Is thought to arrive In the Summer, with all the cars based on their favourite cars, and then the US copy should hit the shops In October, with Europe at Christmas most likely.

Prospects: It's got cars, you can roll them into ditches, this is going to be massive.

Move over, road rovers! Top Gear Rally is on the track, and it looks like the best racing game for the N64 to date! But will it be able to rev up to the competition (Multi Racing Championship, Formula One, San Francisco Rush) this season?

Rally Impressive Graphics

The clean, smooth, and detailed cars look great against the rendered backgrounds. Real-time shadowing and highlighting allows spectacular nighttime effects and good-looking crashes. The pop-up that's so prevalent in other driving games is almost nonexistent here, and the frame rate moves the game steadily along.

Gear Up

Although the controls take some getting used to (it can only be played via the analog, which allows for greater depth to the driving, but feels foreign to gamers used to pad-based steering), there's little to dislike about TGR. The two-player option also means the game should have some great replay value. Top Gear Rally is tire-riffic!

Top of the Line

Top Gear Rally is poised to take the Nintendo 64 racing crown. Leagues ahead of the dismal Cruis'n USA, TGR features five different on-road and off-road tracks, including desert, mountain, jungle, and coastline tracks, as well as diverse driving conditions, like snow, fog, rain, and night driving. TGR will also be the first driving game to support the Rumble Pack, so look for added thrills to complement the game.

With tricky tracks, impressive visuals, and plentiful options, Top Gear Rally has the goods for the racing faithful. Only a few defective parts keep it off the lead lap.

TGR's strong visuals show off what the N64 can do in capable hands. The car shows damage as you plow into guard rails and canyon walls, and the jungle's reflective mud puddles are a nice touch. Unfortunately, the illusion of speed isn't very dramatic, which hampers the game's pace. Weak engine noises and particularly lame collision sounds further undermine the experience.

Still, the hybrid on-road/off-road tracks are littered with hidden shortcuts, the two-player mode works well, and every car can be customized, from the steering sensitivity to the paint job. Top Gear Rally does have some unfortunate flaws, but racing die-hards and rookies alike will find it worth a weekend whirl.

ProTips:

  • Watch for this tunnel shortcut off to the right early on the Jungle track--it's distinguished by a patch of gray at the entrance.
  • This sandy shortcut across the Coastal track's beachfront will shave seconds off your lap time.
  • As with most rally racers, the key to comers is power sliding.
  • If your car Hips, don't panic--most of the time it lands on its wheels and won't interrupt the race.
  • A car with good acceleration is often better than one with a higher top speed.

Graphics

Smooth anti-aliasing and almost no pop-up problems--what a treat! If it weren't for some minor slowdown and night-driving draw-in, graphics would be a perfect score.

Sound

Catastrophic crashes sound more like someone crushing a soda can with their foot, while the lifeless music doesn't force your adrenaline into overdrive.

Control

Response varies on each of the heavy off-road coupes, but the handling is very realistic. That's not to say it's easy or instantly enjoyable, so try experimenting with the settings first.

Fun Factor

Top Gear Rally is better than Cruis'n USA, but what isn't9 While N64 owners cry out for a truly killer racing game, strong but just-shy titles like TGR will have to fill the void.

What good is the N64's massive graphics horsepower it there isn't a dynamic racing game to shift it into high gear? Kemco answers that question with Top Gear Rally, an impressive off-road racing game based on its popular Top Gear series for the 16-bit platforms. Take the wheel of a Porsche 911, Toyota Supra, or Toyota Baja and face numerous gut-wrenching courses in locales ranging from the highest mountains to the lowest deserts. You'll be amazed at the ultra-realistic graphics effects such as rain, dirt, and snow being kicked up by all the traffic. Play first-person, be-hind-the-car, or challenge a friend in sharp, split-screen action. Top Gear Rally looks like fop fun on the N64.

Racing on a Gameboy Advance never ceases to amaze me. How a company can cram the level of detail and realistic feel to a tiny, sometimes airborne, cars is always astounding. Top Gear Rally not only astounds, it manages to delight, giving handheld gamers the first truly real feel of rally racing in a diminutive game. Not only does the game pack 80 tracks and eleven cars into a GBA cart, it also makes the cars almost completely customizable from paint jobs to types of tires and sensitivity of brakes.

The game's tracks are a nice blend of on and off road, outback and city adding to the mix a variety of surface types like sand and mud and an assortment of nasty weather. Gameplay in Rally is a breeze, using the A and B buttons for brakes and gas and the shoulder buttons for shifting if that's your sort of thing. The select button swaps between a view through the windshield and a view of your car and the road in front of it.

The graphics truly push the GBA to its limits, with colorful cars and gritty landscapes. It actually pushes so hard that the game limits the number of cars that can be seen on the screen at any one time. Besides your view of the action, the screen is also filled with a tiny map marking the upcoming turns and opponents' cars, your place in the race, lap number and speed. The top of the screen also displays arrows to mark the severity of approaching turns.

The game's sound is just as packed, giving the cars a satisfying whine as they low gear it around the loose dirt turns of a desert course. An unseen copilot shouts out your driving instructions as you race, just like in the
full-blown rally games.

The game includes several of your typical racing modes like practice, time attack, quick race and three championship modes. It also features excellent head to head racing, though that requires to GBAs a link cable and two Rally game packs to play.

Another really cool feature is the game's online component, yes I said online. All you have to do is beat a time trial race and you're given a password that will allow you access to the game designer's website. Once there you can compare scores and post bragging rights - a pretty cool piece of online competition.

This game manages to blend all the right elements of control, graphics and sound into a package that fits in the palm of your hand while acting like a game fit for a console.

Snapshots and Media

Nintendo 64/N64 Screenshots

GBA Screenshots

GameBoy Color Screenshots

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