For me, April 23rd will be a date I will never forget. It was the start of this wonderful series, and the beginning of my writing for SEGA Nerds. This was a lot of firsts for me, as well as a start into something I always wanted to do, which is write about games and such.
From F1 Exhaust Note to games like Touge King the Spirits 2, the spirit of racers will always live as long as I and others can keep writing about them. You guys know how much I love my Saturn racers, and this one is no exception, though it is coming from a first-time played perspective. Today’s Forgotten Racer is Touge King The Spirits 2, and this is one you don’t want to miss.
Released in 1997 by Atlus and developed by CAVE, Touge 2 is the third game in the Touge series, but the second one to be released on the Saturn. The first game, Touge King the Spirits, was released for the American Saturn, under the name High Velocity: Mountain Racing Challenge in 1995.
The first Touge brought a lot to the table, with tuneable cars, a robust single-player mode and a two-player, split-screen mode that would merge together when both players were close together on track. These were definitely some cool concepts for an early Saturn racer, but I believe the second game improves on most of them and makes a way better game.
The basis of Touge 2 lies in the “King Battle’ mode, where you take on multiple opponents, with everyone vying becoming “King of the Touge” as their ultimate goal. There are also a couple modes on display, with the addition of VS Battle, Time Attack, Free Battle, as well as a Training mode, for players to get accustomed to the handling model and courses. King Battle is the meat and potatoes of the game though, and is where players will be spending a good majority of time. Also included is the “Photo Contest” mode, where you can take a look at some sick photos of some classic Japanese cars.
The main game mode, “King Battle,” starts with you selecting a car and course to race on. There are multiple opponents per course, along with different weather and time configurations to change. The courses themselves, sadly being limited to three, are based on Japanese mountain passes and can be very difficult at times. Add in the factor of the season, time of day and weather changes, and even one course could provide a ton of replay value.
All courses can be raced in a clockwise or anti-clockwise formation as well, so there is a lot of changing that can be done. Certain opponents will not appear unless you have the course set in specific conditions, so to actually beat the game, you will have to beat the same courses multiple times, but it’s worth it to get all the cars. Difficulty-wise, the game isn’t that hard once you know what you’re doing, but some course memorization is definitely required.
Speaking of cars, Touge 2 provides a damn fine selection of JDM goodness. From your classic AE86 (Insert Initial D reference here) to the fastest of the time, including the Acura NSX, Toyota Supra and Nissan R32 GTR, they’re all there, as well as some secret cars. Being a Japanese racer, this is expected and fits the theme of the game just right.
Joining the Japanese car crowd, there are a couple out of country cars included as well, in the form of a Porsche 911 and others. None of the cars are licensed, but you can obviously tell what cars they are meant to be. All cars are tuneable with players being able to change almost all the parts, like tires, brakes, mufflers and turbos for the perfect balance of grip and speed.
The beauty of this game lies in its graphics, though. Touge 2 is a damn fine looking racer and isn’t afraid to show it off. Running at what I believe at 30 frames per second, with barely any pop-up, it looks good. Most cars sport reflections, dynamic lighting, as well as transparencies through the windows, not to mention some great looking car models.
Personally, I think Touge 2 could give Daytona USA and SEGA Rally Championship a run for their money. In the control department, Touge kills it as well, feeling great using both the standard controller and 3D Control pad. The handling does take a little to get used to, but the control helps it, with every car cornering and sliding like they should. Touge 2’s control system is interesting, as it lets you switch between automatic and manual transmission mid-race, as well as including an emergency brake, which was uncommon for racers of the time.
Music in Touge King the Spirits 2 is there, but altogether is not really memorable. This game’s OST has its moments where it’s good, but otherwise, it’s your basic Japanese racing game soundtrack and just kinda “meh.” The audio design is a completely different story, though. The sounds from the engine notes to the squealing of tires are great, and CAVE definitely got this one right.
Even with certain cars, there is a turbo blow-off valve, which is really cool if you ask me. CAVE definitely started getting their research done with the later games in the Touge series, making sure every car was as close to the real thing as possible. For only the third game in the series, it showed they meant business.
Altogether, I don’t see why any Saturn owner/collector wouldn’t have this in their collection Touge King the Spirits 2 is easily one of the best Saturn racers, nearly eclipsing SEGA’s own first-party arcade offerings. With a long single-player mode, and enough track configurations and cars to race with and against, Touge 2 will definitely have you playing for a while. Factor in a well-made handling model, as well as some amazing graphics for the time, and you have a hidden gem on your hands.
Touge King the Spirits 2 is fairly cheap these days and easily a Saturn import no one should be without, especially if you like racers. I’d say, if you’re looking for a good drift type racer for the Saturn, but something a little more technical than Initial D, Touge King the Spirits 2 is easily worth the pick up.
And as for the two year anniversary of the series, I’d like to thank you all for the support and views. It still surprises me that I’ve kept up with Forgotten Racers of SEGA’s Past for two years, as well as writing for the site. From the bottom of my heart, it means a lot that I’m not the only one that still digs classic racers. Trust me, there are still some racers left to cover, as well as a couple that I’ve been on the fence about checking out.
So as before, I would like to thank you all who read my Forgotten Racers series; I truly do appreciate it. Never did I think my random idea of showing off great SEGA based racers would evolve to this. And with that, I shall take my leave. From the crowded race circuits, to the neon filled streets, the spirit still lives on.