Tokyo Highway Challenge Header Image

The header image for this post was created by me; it’s a screen grab of the start screen for Tokyo Highway Challenge

I looked through the consoles that we have represented on this blog, and felt like the Dreamcast was woefully under represented. As such, I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts all about Dreamcast titles.

I’ve decided that this blog post isn’t going to be the first in the series though. I’ve decided that my posts on Shadowman will be the first ones.

The Game

Tokyo Highway Challenge (known as “Tokyo Xtreme Racer” in America and “Shutokō Battle” in Japan) was a Dreamcast game developed by Crave and published by Genki in 1990. It was later ported to Playstation Portable in 2005.

Shutokou Battle

This wasn’t the first entry in the Shutokou Battle series that I played. My first entry was Tokyo Highway Battle on the Playstation. It was a forgettable (for the time) arcade racer, especially since it was released a short six months before the seminal Gran Turismo.

Each game in the series

and there are a LOT of games in this series

is inspired by illegal street racing which takes place on the Shuto Expressway’s Bayshore Route in Tokyo.

Let Me Go

The idea behind Tokyo Highway Challenge is that you want to be the best illegal street racer in all of Japan

the Japanese used for street racer is 走り屋 (or hashiriya)

Luckily for you, there are organised groups of hashiriya with structures and leaders

kind of fortunate, that

In the words of Ric Flair:

To be the man, you gotta beat the man

Most of the time is spent be driving around the C1 Circuit, weaving in and out of traffic, until you spot a rival.

There are two “types” of C1 Circuit:

  • Type A (clockwise)
  • Type B (anti-clockwise)

They’re both the same circuit, you just go round it differently. The traffic is the same, and you’ll experience the same rivals. Having the two “types” adds a little variation to the game

otherwise, you’ll just be taking left turns all day

C1 Circuit
I always play C1 Type A. C1 Type B is the same circuit, but you round it anti-clockwise

When a rival is spotted, they are challenged to a race by flashing the car’s headlights at them. Beating enough of them forces their team leader to track you down and challenge you in the same way.

There are 137 rivals in the game and they’re organised into groups of 4-8 people. Beating all of the rivals in a specific group means that you’ll be challenge by their leader, after your next race.

Max Racing Challenge
Here I am being challenged by the leader of the “Max Racing” group

As you beat enough of the groups, you’ll gain the attention of one of the “4 Devas” who are, essentially, the end of game bosses. The first of these Devas is the scarily titled “Grim Reaper”.

Enter: The Grim Reaper
Here I am being challenged by The Grim Reaper – first of the 4 Devas

Beating rivals wins you credits, and these can be spent on upgrading your car, buying cosmetic stuff for it (decals, paint work, etc.), or new cars. Even losing to rivals still bags you credits, but you’ll receive a lot less for losing.

A clear victory

Most of the upgrades for each car have a sliding cost scale – the total CP I have in the above screen shot would be enough to buy the next engine upgrade – and some of them cost as much as a new car. So there’s a constant balancing act between spending all of your credits on your current car, and buying a more expensive one (and hoping that it will be better than your current one).

As you beat your rivals, you unlock the base versions of their cars

just like almost every racer than came after it

meaning that you can climb up the ranks faster. If you can control the newer cars, that is – some of them are really quite powerful.

Borrowing From The Best

“the best” here is probably hyperbolic

Pretty much every single import racer which came after the Shutokou Battle series of games have lifted elements from it.

From the cars involved to the idea of battling your rivals; from the teams and leaders to the track layouts. Need for Speed; Burnout; DRiFT; they’re all here.

Tokyo Highway Challenge borrowed elements from Gran Turismo, in that it has simulation-like elements (you can edit things like the suspension and gear ratios). But this is an arcade racer, through and through.

Simulation Options
Although it’s primarily an arcade racer, there are a few simulation-like options for each car

Unlike the first Gran Turismo games, you don’t have to qualify for licenses in order to drive the newer cars, you just have to be able to afford them. The only way to afford them is to beat more rivals, and the only way to unlock more cars to buy is by beating the rivals

it’s all pointing towards one thing, really: beat the rivals

Unlike the simulation racers, when you crash your car into something (and it will, more than likely be the other road users) your car wont take damage, you’ll just drop in speed.

If you manage to hit a stationary object

like a wall or barrier

your car will be launched into the air and bounce around like a pinball. Eventually “auto pilot” will be engaged and will get you facing the correct way

this happens if you end up going backwards, too

and you’ll be racing again in seconds. No need to worry about repairing your car, as it’s invincible.

Days Into Nights

Each time you head out onto the C1 Circuit, the game will grab 6 random rivals for you to race. Early on in the game, you’ll almost always be given 4-6 rivals you haven’t seen before, but as you get further into the game (and beat more rivals), you’ll start to get repeats. You’ll still win credits for beating the rivals that you’ve already beaten, but it wont be as much.

Once all of the rivals have been beaten, you can return home. This will end the day, and return you to the garage. Heading back out takes you forward to the next day, and there is a counter for days in your save file.

It doesn’t really go anywhere, in that the number of days taken to beat all of the rivals doesn’t really get used. But

just like the timers in Final Fantasy games

it’s there for your own vanity: you can prove to your friends that you beat the game quicker than they did, because you did it in fewer days than they did.

Finish Line

Tokyo Highway Challenge (or Xtreme Racer in America) is a fun arcade style import racer, with traces of a lot of the tropes for the import racers which came after it.

It’s a fun racer and has replayability, but only if you’re a casual gamer. Very few people will want to keep taking the same left (or right, if you play the C1 B circuit) turns for hours on end.

Have you ever played Tokyo Highway Challenge, or it’s older brother (Tokyo Highway Battle on the PlayStation), or it’s younger siblings (the Kaido Racer or Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift on Playstation 2)? What did you think to it?

Jamie is one of the Waffling Taylors. He spends a lot of time blogging about things sometimes related to programming and sometimes not.