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Sega Rally Championship 2 (Dreamcast) artwork

Sega Rally Championship 2 (Dreamcast) review


"If you want a thrill ride that really makes you work for its sweetest moments, Sega Rally 2 comes out on top in that department."



Sega Rally Championship remains a memorable piece for me for several reasons: as one of the US Saturn's first-year releases, it was an impressive-looking 3D title, it was the second import game I played using the Game Shark, and it was one of the first racing titles that made me want to work for victory. For that last one, I can't recall any other racing game beforehand that made me feel like I didn't try hard enough, even when I didn't reach the finish line on time! With Sega Rally, however, I felt a little shame or embarrassment out of losing against the clock on the second track, or completing the final track without reaching first place. Precise steering and balance with the Toyota Celica and Lancia Delta HF Integrate is demanded, as the game features distinct handling compared to other arcade games of its day. When you get everything right, complete the main three tracks, and then go on to conquer the harsh extra track in first place, it's an exhilarating feeling.

Though, as nostalgic as I still feel for the game, Sega Rally leaves a lot to be desired as a port; you get the four tracks and... that's it. Once mastered, which doesn't take long, you can complete the game in under 20 minutes and be done with the disc for quite some time. I hate to say it, but the Saturn port really does come off as more of a tech-demo, a title Sega needed to flex the console's 3D prowess in an attempt to "thwart" the PlayStation 1's impending dominance. So when Sega Rally 2 was confirmed for release during the Dreamcast's first few months, I figured, port-wise, it was going for the same basic route of its predecessor, offering the main game's four tracks with generic extras like time attack. That's exactly what's included on the GD-ROM, except the four tracks in this sequel are much harder to finish, likely so because, by the end of the day, you're still going through four tracks that can be completed back to back in under 20 minutes.



Contributing to the steeper difficulty is the greater sense of urgency when it comes to fighting the corners; the original Sega Rally's most intense cornering doesn't even compare to some of the stuff you'll encounter during this game's middle courses. Mountain, the second track, forces a succession of hard turns and narrow bridges, especially during the corners near the finish line, that test your ability to stay cool under pressure. The following track, Snowy, is the harshest of the four, as you're literally forced to stay in the very center of the road as much as possible, since the edges have thicker amounts of snow that suck you into the barriers for a few seconds. Mastery of these two tracks, especially Snowy, is a must if you ever intend to reach the final track, let alone beat the championship.

If this really was all that Sega Rally 2 had to offer, I couldn't even begin to say I was surprised, since Sega has an unfortunate record of delivering bare bone ports of their arcade releases. BUT... this isn't one of those instances. As a fresh Dreamcast owner, I wanted this game so badly that I passed over launch titles like Soul Calibur and Marvel vs. Capcom just to purchase it. And it's all because of 10 Year Championship. As the name implies, this mode will gauge your might as a rally driver through ten championships, each containing four tracks with differing attributes. From the rain-infested roads of the tropical Muddy tracks, to the looped Riviera course at night and the curvaceous Mountain terrains, there's a lot more to overcome. Even the Desert track from the first game gets in on the act! There's also a grander roster of vehicles to use, like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Peugeot 206, but the predecessor's three also make a return.



What I really love about 10 Year Championship mode, besides the replay value, is that it's able to show off what makes Sega Rally tick, which both titles' arcade modes kinda fumble at due to the fact you're in and out before you fully see the game as a game. As you slowly climb your way through the years, you'll appreciate the attention to detail that's put into the corner designs and their placements, and how precise you need to be without bumping into the edges or slowing down below a certain mph/km/h. Since most courses don't even last two minutes to complete, this adds considerable tension on ones that rain a gauntlet of turns on your vehicle. You'll groan at your own incompetence when you screw up vital corners and fail to see any car ahead of you for the duration of the race, your nerves will be racing when you spot an important car in your sights with the finish line mere seconds away, and overwhelmed with joy when you destroy every corner and opponent in your path, knowing full well that this is "The Run".

Year Five is going to be the benchmark for many players, since most of the years before that can be finished with minor changes to your vehicle. The 5th year pulls no punches, separating the champs from the chumps (sorry, just had to use that line), requiring everyone that enters to put some genuine effort in defeating it: from modifying your suspensions, braking, and steering, to flat out memorizing the courses' smallest details to ensure absolute victory. It's the game mode I wished the Saturn's Sega Rally featured, and I'm thankful that it came into fruition with Sega Rally 2. Some have complained that the car handling is a bit slippery, the framerate is kinda unstable during certain spots, and that it doesn't really feel like a good representation of rally racing, but if you want a thrill ride that really makes you work for its sweetest moments, Sega Rally 2 comes out on top in that department.

Rating: 8/10

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