How Gran Turismo Forever Transformed Racing Games

Launched in 1997, the PlayStation simulator spent five years in development until its creators deemed its hyper-realism and attention to detail were ready. Today, the franchise forges real-world drivers.

From simulation to real life

The British driver Jann Mardenborough has been racing on professional circuits since the age of 20, thanks to Gran Turismo, a series of car simulators that, as you can see, single-handedly demolishes the argument that video games can’t bring anything good to our youth. In 2011, Mardenborough became the third winner of the GT Academy, a talent recruitment program/competition organized by Sony and Nissan, in which skilled players in simulated driving could vie for a real-world contract with the Japanese team (by the way, the first graduate with honors from this particular academy was the Spaniard Lucas Ordóñez.

The Gran Turismo vs Mario Kart Race

1997 was the year of Gran Turismo, an era when PlayStation competed head-to-head with its main rival, Nintendo, with a racing video game opposed to Mario Kart.

Gran Turismo 1997 : Japanese cover art featuring a Nissan Skyline GT-R (left) and a Toyota Supra (right)

While it is true that Ridge Racer, an arcade game from 1993 that made its way to Sony’s console the following year, pioneered 3D texture mapping, and Virtua Racing (1992) attempted to introduce a more or less realistic racing circuit simulation before them, it was the almost existential rivalry between Gran Turismo and Mario Kart that established itself as an undisputed reality in the minds of all gamers during the latter half of the 1990s. It’s interesting to note that the creators of the former had previously developed a title, Motor Toon Grand Prix, which was heavily inspired by the colorful “cartoon” style of the latter when they decided to seriously tackle racing.

Hard work for realism

Designer Kazunori Yamauchi spent five long years leading a project whose primary goal was to provide the user with an experience similar (or as close as possible) to what they would have when taking the wheel of one of their licensed vehicles. Starting from its fourth installment, Gran Turismo incorporated the slogan “The Real Driving Simulator” into all its releases, but this commitment to hyper-realism, reinforced by an extraordinary attention to detail, has been present since the very beginning.

While it used the same basic code as Motor Toon Grand Prix, Yamauchi remembers that the gestation process was demanding for everyone involved: “It took us five years,” he said in a 2009 interview. “During that time, we couldn’t see the end. I would fall asleep at my desk and wake up at my desk. I knew it was already winter because I could feel it getting cold. One year, I spent only four days at home.

All those sleepless nights were rewarded when Gran Turismo became the kind of commercial success upon which a franchise is built, with over 90 million units sold in 25 years, not to mention an academy and a film inspired by the academy. Critics showered it with praise for its graphics, elegance of its controls and the appeal of its Competition mode . This technical marvel packed 140 different models onto a single disc, while Need for Speed II, also from 1997, offered only nine.

Furthermore, its undeniable popular appeal immediately elevated it far beyond the niche destiny that Kazunori Yamauchi had initially believed it to be condemned to. When the Swedish group The Cardigans titled their fourth album after the driving simulator they played during their downtime in the recording studio, Sony knew they had a phenomenon on their hands. And Jann Mardenborough is living proof that dedicating five years to the game has a direct effect on reality.

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Animal Crossing Lego

LEGO Officially Announces Its Animal Crossing Collection!


The 5 Most Popular Collectible Card Games in 2023