Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sega Super GT/SCUD Race Memories

John Marine | 2/18/2010 11:43:00 PM |
Daytona USA is the best Sega racing experience for most. But for me, it's Super GT, and that's no disrespect to Daytona USA. It's just that Super GT resonated with me in a unique way. This blog entry concerns some of my ideas about WHY this game resonates with me.

NOTE: I've always known this game as Sega Super GT. But to avoid confusion, I will try to use "SCUD Race" through this blog entry.

--- Memories of Sega Super GT ---
In 1997 or 1998, I've been introduced to this game, which was released in 1996. SCUD (Super Car Ultimate Drive) Race was all about piloting four of the best GT racing cars across four different tracks. You have an urban course dominated by a huge aquarium, a course that takes place at an airport at night, a beautiful natural track with cascading waterfalls and lots of ancient surroundings, and a challenging course at a castle. You have four cars to choose from- a Porsche 911, a Ferrari F40, a Dodge Viper GTS-R, and the almighty McLaren F1. The memories are incredible for me for this Model 3 game. I was in my mid-teens when I played this game for the first time.

Beginner Day Memories.

This track is called "Dolphin Tunnel," and the song played is "Groovin' Daylight."

This course is fairly simple with a few tricky corners. Use this track to learn the basics of this game. I thought it was incredible knowing that I was racing an exotic sportscar through the tunnels of a massive aquarium. It's just beautiful and unreal at the same time.

A few times, I've raced this course. I even did this track against two or three people with two units linked together. I ended up winning the race. But man... you got to EARN it! The arcade unit was set on Grand Prix length. This means that instead of the usual four laps, I think it's either eight laps or 12 laps for this course.

Beginner Night Memories.

The track is called Twilight Airport, and its song is called "Flight in the Dark."

This track resonates with me the most because it's the experience and track I've loved most. It wasn't so much this track itself, but it was the music along with the track as to why I've enjoyed this experience. This track is essentially a modified oval. It's all about high speed. All the while, you're seeing lots of lights around the airport going through the terminals and seeing some of the parked planes. Just hearing the song is enough to get me going here. Hearing the song and racing this track makes for an experience I don't think can ever be replicated in any other game- even in a Gran Turismo game.

I would always race the McLaren F1 around this course. Really, the F40 or McLaren F1 are good choices for this track. It's always great fun. Maybe my best (and kind of sad) memory of this track- it's the ONLY track (at least as of this blog entry) I've completed in all of SCUD Race. I've never completed any other track besides this one.

As for an experience I've tried to replicate, I sometimes imagine a street course race or some race on a temporary racing course at night with a good electronica song playing in the background. I was probably looking for a song in the same key as "Flight in the Dark." Only song I liked around ths time of this game was "Dead Man Walking" by David Bowie from "The Saint" soundtrack. Even today, I still try to recreate the experience this track provided in my game playing. But... to no avail (or to moderate success).

Medium Memories.

The first of two courses that don't give you a Rolling Start is the Mystery Ruins, and the song played is called "Ancient Voice." It is the only track that has a crossover to it. Even today, I think this track is beautiful. Graphical standards may have been different compared to now, but this is still one of the most beautiful courses in ANY racing game. I haven't raced this track religiously, but I definitely respect it. Maybe a by-product of its loveliness is that its layout somewhat resembles a butterfly. You note a lot of accents such as high mountains, big torches, and things like that. Maybe the loveliest accents of this course are all of the cascading waterfalls and the mist from them.

Expert Memories

Dear God, help me... this course is a total nightmare! This track is called Classic Castle, and the song playing is "Breeze of the Middle Ages." The first thought I have of this course is that it's absolutely challenging. You have to be fearless and race like there's no tomorrow. The reason why is because this track is truly unforgiving. There are a number of off-rhythm corners here. Get ready for a wild ride!

The Ferrari F40 and McLaren F1 are the best cars to use here. But man... you'd better be an adept driver to take on this track and succeed here. You'll need to race this track a few times to learn the proper racing line. If there's one corner you absolutely HAVE to get right, it's the final corner that takes you into the Colosseum. It looks like you could drift forever in this section, but you'd better make sure to clear that final corner with confidence! Otherwise, your race could be over.

Because I'm used to Sega Super GT, the Super Beginner course is something I don't have memories of. If you want a preview of what this course is like, I want you to check out this video and marvel in its weirdness:

Weird, huh?

--- Will There EVER Be a Proper Home Version of This Game? ---
It's not that this game was just completely disregarded. This game is just exceptional to me. One of the reasons why this game was never made was because of technology. No system could properly emulate this game (unless you have a very good PC to play this game emulated). Not everyone has the money and space to get a SCUD Race arcade unit into their homes. The best way to play this game is to basically go to an arcade store that has this game. Either that, or wait until Sega (or somebody) perfectly emulates this for home consoles or PCs.

I also heard this game was very expensive to code and everything. One thing I do hope in the future is that a quality conversion is made for home use. That's even if Sega has to basically re-do the entire game from scratch while maintaining all of what made this game fun. That is even if you back bring tracks from other Sega 3D racing games like Daytona USA, Indy 500, Sega Touring Car Championship, or games like these two.

--- New Hope for Model 3 on Consoles? ---
(ADDED - June 3, 2011)

In recent times, there has been a Model 3 emulator offering the possibility to play Model 3 games (such as Sega Super GT/SCUD Race). A loyal reader and a good friend, Eric, has put together a blog post where he play-tests the Model 3 Emulator with Sega Super GT/SCUD Race. You can see his blog post at: "Massive Scud Race Image Dump: Part 1" on Musings of a Sega Racing Fan.

Thank you all for reading about my memories of this classic arcade game. Care to comment? You are free to!

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