Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Best Track in the Game #5: Top Gear

VRROOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!

TOP.  FUCKING.  GEAR.

To all those that have played Top Gear, those are the only words one needs to say to get their engines going.

I mean, come on!  Look at this brilliant fucking gameplay!:

Well, okay, that was boring as shit, but hey, back in 1992 that was high-fucking tech for a racing game.

As one of the first racing games released for the Super NES, Top Gear has the distinction of being awesome for exactly the same reasons it sucks donkey balls.

At the time of of it’s launch, games in the Super NES library made extensive use of Mode 7.

In case you’re wondering, Mode 7 is that goofy background scrolling effect used to rapidly move the scenery while the foreground sprites remain in place.

Secret of Mana Mode 7. Yes, Secret of Mana was a better game than Top Gear.

Games like F-Zero and Pilotwings relied so much on the creation of Mode 7, that in many ways, they served like retail tech-demos for it.

The only difference between those games and Top Gear however, was the fact that they were good.

Well, that and Top Gear didn’t actually use Mode 7, but give me a break, I felt like talkin’ Mode 7 for a minute.

Anyway, point is:  most Super NES games were good, whereas Top Gear was decidedly not.

Then why is it that Top Gear holds such a special place in my heart?

The first, and for the most part, only time I ever played Top Gear in my youth, was during my days spent over at my cub scout (Den 123, woot!) friend’s house.

This would be the same friend’s house that I used to play Star Fox at.

And no, we didn't look like this. We weren't old enough to have facial hair...

You see, during sleepovers, I had a habit of staying up way later than whoever I was hanging out with.

Basically, whenever my friends would fall asleep, I would set about playing the single-player games in their library.

At my cub scout buddies’ house, said games consisted of Aladdin, Pilotwings, and Star Fox.

Yup, this was me in Pilotwings, only with a lot less "Skydiving", and helluva' lot more "Falling."

When my buddy was awake however, Top Gear was the order of the day.

Part of the fun of Top Gear, at least for me, was the fact that my buddy and I played it, not as a competitive racer, but as a co-operative one.

Like Super Mario Kart, Top Gear utilized a progressive, point-driven tournament system for deciding each players ranking for each of the country/continent based circuits.

Only, without the fun of chucking red shells and bananas at people.

Ooooooh.... You know somebody's about'sta get pwned...

Essentially, coming in first in every race was not a necessity to win the game, so long as the players managed to earn enough points to qualify for the next circuit.

Because of this, my buddy and I would back each other up during every race, bumping CPU drivers off the road and dropping back to concede a first place win in order to keep our point totals in the black.

I remember there was one CPU driver in particular that pissed off my buddy and I.

His name was Richie.

Richie was the CPU driver that would consistently come in first, provided none of the players managed to out-race him.

I always pictured Richie as being some sort of stereotypical blonde Californian asshole, like Ice Man from Top Gun, that one douche in the black SUV in Twister, and, well, let’s just face facts, Richie was Billy Zabka.

Their only weaknesses are: Tornadoes, Kicks to the Face, and Tom Cruise with his shirt off...

Richie was a pain in the ass, but the real source of Top Gear’s difficulty, was definitely the fuel/pit-stop system.

That’s right folks, cars in Top Gear could run out of fuel, and boy I’ll tell yah’, they found a way to make it happen every fuckin’ time.

Eeew.... Wouldn't wanna' get caught in THAT circle jerk...

Pit stops were often times tucked away off the side of the road in such a way so as to make them next to impossible to find.

Or in the case of some people, a little too easy to find.

You see, even though the game offered an onscreen prompt to signal players to the pits, more often than not, players would end up barely missing the turn-off, or barely making it, thusly leaving one in the unsavory position of either being dead on the track, or stuck in the pits at an inopportune time.

The Red Car was lucky enough to make the pits at the RIGHT time. Yeah, I never did that.

I’m pretty sure those bloody pits were the only reason I never beat Top Gear.

From a gameplay standpoint, Top Gear was no Mario Kart.

And that’s saying a lot, seeing as the game was a straightforward racer, with no real complexity to the gameplay outside of the ability to manually shift your car and occasionally use a burst of nitrous oxide for speed boosts.

In fact, probably the deepest part of the gameplay came in the form of picking your car from an assortment of 4.

As a kid, I always played it safe and picked the White Car, ’cause it’s fuel efficiency ensured fewer trips to the dreaded pits.

Nowadays I prefer to pick the Green Car.

That's right, it's fuckin' GREEN! Fuckin' kids, tryin' tuh' tell me it's blue n'shit...

Top Gear’s interface was clunky amid a sea of 90’s clunkiness, with an option screen that required a special touch to properly maneuver, let alone discover.

You press "select" here, just so you know.

Most peculiar was the actual racing interface, as it was perpetually locked in a horizontal split-screen configuration, regardless of the number of players.

During single-player races, the other half of the screen would be occupied by a CPU driver, who, like Richie, would consistently place first unless you beat him to it.

Yup, 'cause that's how I like to play my games. With HALF OF THE FUCKIN' SCREEN devoted to shit that has nothing to do with my car.

Because of the split-screen, slow-down ran rampant throughout Top Gear.

Hell, when going over hills, or through tunnels, the game would chug along at fuckin’ Little Bear speeds.

STILL. FUCKING. SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

Despite these flaws, when I was playing it with my buddy, Top Gear was a no-frills racer that was buckets of fun.

All that business aside, you probably wanna’ know what the music was like in Top Gear, right?

Well, get ready for a shocker, ’cause The Best Track in the Game is…

EVERY. FUCKING. TRACK.

Haha!  Didn’t see that comin’ did’ja?

Top Gear has an awesome fucking soundtrack.

In fact, if you’re not particularly attached to the pants you’re wearing right now, here’s a download for the ENTIRE soundtrack.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you though, Top Gear music has been known to ’cause many a man or woman to splooge their pants.

There’s only a handful of tracks to choose from, but every one of them is awesome in that crazy electronic, sped-up Ace of Base sort of way.

From the Title Theme, to every race BGM that follows it, every track is full of fun and excitement.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that virtually every track in Top Gear is hummable in my book.

Here’s a few standouts, starting with the awesome fuckin’ Title Theme:

Isn’t that just fuckin’ awesome!?
Next up is the “Long” Race Theme:

I call it the “Long” Race Theme because technically none of these tracks have titles, as they are recycled at will throughout the game.
The first time you hear this track is on the San Francisco track, which just happens to be a long ass race, hence, “Long” Race Theme.
Finally, we have the “Night” Race Theme:

It’s technically not used exclusively for night races, but once again, the first time you hear it is in New York, during a night race
Doesn’t it sound remarkably appropriate for a Super NES night race?
Hah, not to spam the Karate Kid references or anything, but I can’t help but draw a comparison between this track and that one song they played during the scene where Johnny and the Cobra Kai show up on the beach riding their dirt bikes.

……Well, now that I’ve heard the whole song, maybe they’re not quite so similar.
But still, that one part, that they used in the movie?  Spot on.

Anyway, that’s Top Gear.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get caught up with my posting tonight so I can get back to making quality posts like this once again!

See yah’ tomorrow folks!

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