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Street Supremacy (PSP) artwork

Street Supremacy (PSP) review


"Street Supremacy isn't just average, it's average without inspiration. You might wonder what it feels like to blast down a Tokyo expressway, grinding the slick, rain speckled concrete under tyre as a blind corner sends the back-end sliding out... well, keep wondering. This isn't the game for you."



Street Supremacy isn't just average, it's average without inspiration. You might wonder what it feels like to blast down a Tokyo expressway, grinding the slick, rain speckled concrete under tyre as a blind corner sends the back-end sliding out... well, keep wondering. This isn't the game for you. The way Konami's latest, Japanese import (released there over a year ago as Shutokou Battle) replicates the gray blur of urban street racing is nothing to be envied, and only highlights exactly how dull inter-city driving can be. Indeed, the thrills commonly associated with finding, racing, and crushing a new opponent have been evenly tempered by some yawn inducing visuals, while Street Supremacy's questionable game design sinks whatever hope its cult-ish appeal had left. And if you're still not convinced, wait until you've experienced these load times...

How not to port a popular home console game: lesson #1

There's a train of thought that says when you're porting something to a handheld, cuts have to be made in order to match the game to its new format. You need to make it smaller, faster to play, and slightly less demanding. Mind you, there's also a second belief that says bollocks, we can do anything! Let's compromise nothing and give the fans exactly what they want. Be warned: Street Supremacy is in keeping with the former. As the first portable iteration of Genki's semi-popular Tokyo Extreme Racer series, its shallow gameplay lacks the polish of its predecessors and offers a whole lot of seen it all before.

* Night time street racing
* Barren, closed in expressways
* Thinly spread traffic
* Occasional glimpses of Tokyo Tower

That last one is a highlight.

What veterans may not be aware of however, is the way Genki have taken a standard length race and turned it into a brief blast of point-to-point action. The vast majority of events simply ask players to chase an opponent car across a stretch of track no longer than about a minute in length, and conclude once a sufficient amount of distance has been put between you and them. And yes, the action is simple to a fault. Unlike its predecessors though, Street Supremacy has tried to mix things up a bit with the addition of a "health" bar that gauges exactly how well you're doing. Drive hard and your opponent's gauge will begin to shrink as he falls behind and loses cred. Make too many mistakes however, and yours will do the same.

Further evidence of creative thinking can be found in Street Supremacy's focus on rivalries. Upon starting a new game, players are given a choice of joining one of three local gangs, and the option of starting something with an unwary competitor. A quick check of the map reveals who's driving what and where, and rates each of your possible opponents based on their current skill level and chosen ride. Successfully overtaking your selected quarry earns you some mega street cred, which along with the usual cash rewards will level up your position in the gang. And the more hardcore you get, the bigger your posse becomes... or at least that's the theory of it. In practice though, such grand ambitions don't really amount to a hill of beans, and all you're doing is driving short, overly brief races across dull, uninspired road ways.

If that had been the end of it, fans may have still enjoyed Street Supremacy's customizable car options. Purely cosmetic changes such as paint jobs and neon lights can be custom fitted to each vehicle, and compliment the usual upgrades accordingly. Tuning your the engine increases its horsepower, while playing with the clutch enables faster gear changes and thusly better control on some of the more difficult roadways. So what's the catch? No matter how much money you invest in your machine, the controls never reach a point where they feel just right. Each car is either too heavy or too light, and will constantly taunt players with the absence of a comfortable middle ground.

Of course, what would Japanese street racing be without the obligatory Para Para sounds? A breath of fresh air, perhaps? With so much already smelling like reheated leftovers, it's no surprise to see the usual pieces of fast paced electronica have been wheeled out and put to use once more in Street Supremacy's incredibly average soundtrack. You've heard these beats, tapped these rhythms, and done so before with far more flair, Genki's attempt at dance seems tepid in comparison. Still, those that suffered through the rock anthems of Need for Speed Rivals are sure to appreciate this change in pace, though it's hard to call such thinking a recommendation.

The problem here is that the PSP already features a pretty solid line-up of racers, and in order for it to stand out, Genki's effort needed something spectacular. And that something wasn't its creative "battle system". On one side of the road we have Ridge Racers, Wipeout Pure, and at least half a dozen franchises in the making that have delivered the goods with an ungodly amount of class. Then there's Street Supremacy and its... load times? Excessive grays? Poor performance and stilted game design? M'eh. If you're looking for the PSP's next king of the road, and have tried just about everything else, I'd say it's time to hang up your driving gloves and accept early retirement. Street Supremacy won't be delivering the thrills you crave...


Pros
----

* Impressive customizable options
* Hey, at least EA Trax aren't doing the music
* Tokyo Tower looks as awesome as ever

Cons
----

* Races are way too short to be fun
* Tokyo expressways don't make for interesting racing
* Weak controls
* The battle/gang system doesn't really add anything


Rating: 4/10

midwinter's avatar
Staff review by Michael Scott (April 18, 2006)

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