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You have to feel for Sega GT when it eventually came out in Europe. Released in December 2000, it never stood a chance when other racers like Test Drive Le Mans, Ferarri F355 Challenge and the much-hyped Metropolis Street Racer had been kicking around for the last month. It also had to compete for Christmas cash with other Dreamcast big hitters like Shenmue and Quake 3 Arena, not to mention the hype train of the recently released Playstation 2 console. So did European DC owners back then miss out on a hidden racing gem with Sega GT? Well in short....no they didn't, but there are some interesting ideas that make it worth a play.
Did you know that Sega GT was the 2nd best selling racing game on the Dreamcast (Sega Rally 2 being the 1st)? About 580,000 units were sold worldwide. Sega GT was also the best selling Dreamcast racer in the US with just over 202,000 copies sold (just a tad more than Hydro Thunder)! Around 179,000 copies of Sega GT: Homologation Special were sold in Japan so that leaves just under 200,000 copies that were sold in other territories (Europe, South America and other Asia/Australia). It would be deliciously ironic if Sega GT outsold Metropolis Street Racer in Europe considering the limited exposure it got compared to MSR. PS I do not classify Crazy Taxi as a racing game.
For the record, I am reviewing the PAL version of Sega GT for the Dreamcast however I will be making references to the Japanese original (Sega GT: Homologation Special). While this game is considered a Gran Turismo clone, I have hardly played Polyphony's seminal works (despite owning all the PS1 and PS2 titles) so I am unable to make a fair comparison. Sega GT is actually the first 'serious racer' I have fully completed! I originally completed it back in 2017 as part of a 'community play' on OnlineConsoles (see here for the link: https://dreamcast.onlineconsoles.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=10443). However I just did another completion playthrough in the last month (August/September 2023) so I feel I have the experience to give this game a fair review...
In one word: functional. Sega GT's graphics are clean, crisp and run at a consistent 30 fps. They are not going to win any awards however they certainly better than racers from the PS1/Saturn/N64 consoles. Car models are nothing special but are adequate for the task at hand. The course environments are at least varied and provide atmosphere although they can appear somewhat bland. Highlights include a nice sunset effect on the "Rock Road" courses along with animated turbines and a basic flare effect from the streetlights. On the night courses, there are also some pretty tai light effects. The only minor gripe is that parts of the night courses are too dark and required better lighting, however this can be overcome with repeat plays. If you play in Dual Mode (2-player split screen), there is a noticeable fog effect over the background graphics that only dissipates when you get very close. This is likely due to the increased processing power required to run this mode.
The sunset effect on the Rock Road tracks. MSR could have done with some proper sunshine.
Blue blue skies! Blue blue skies I see...(sorry, wrong game)
The mountain range in...Snowy Mountain!
Tail light effects on the Night Section replays
The best way to describe most of the menu music is 'synthesised lounge jazz muzak' although there are some uptempo track present. It's nothing you would want to hear outside of the game but credit to the developers for putting in different tunes throughout the menus. The racing music itself is mainly a frenetic mixture of drum & bass, techno and wailing guitars. I guess it suits the game somewhat but again it's nothing I would listen to away from Sega GT. However there is a nice mellow dance track on the "Rock Road" courses and the latter part of the "Snowy Mountain" music has some nice Daytona USA 2 electric guitar wails. The highlight though is the music from the game's endings: a great, uplifting soft rock track complete with 'air guitar' riffs; a real Sega racing vibe! I am not an expert on motor sounds but car engines and tire screeches during a race sound OK to me. I personally like the revving engine sound that occurs during the loading screen.
The front menu for Sega GT ('Mode Select') is presented in a basic list format and is easy to understand. The 'Championship' sub-menu has been changed from the Japanese version's list format to graphic icons which immediately avoids confusion with the previous menu. A good change in my opinion. Unfortunately some of the options and set ups within the Championship mode are overly convoluted. I'll discuss these problems more in the following section.
The Mode Select and Championship menus are both neatly laid out
Driver Lice? Factory Lice? Get down the clinic you dirty swines!
The main mode is Championship where you take part in various lap trials and races in order to make cash and gain access to better cars. Acquiring cash not only allows you to buy new cars but to upgrade existing ones via the Tuning Shop. However not all cars can be bought; some can only be won by taking part or winning a particular event. You start the game with 10,000 in Sega GT Pounds (yes, I made up that term!) and that's only enough to buy one of three low powered 2nd hand cars. While it's possible to win a few races with these vehicles without upgrades, I recommend starting out in the Car License section. Here you need to gain a license that grants you the right to purchase and drive more powerful cars. License tests are divided into 4 'engine power' classes (Extra, B, A and SA) and there are 6 tests per class, each from a different manufacturer. Each test is a simple 'one lap time trial' where it's very easy to qualify, however the real challenge is beating the pre-set record lap time in order to take part in a Works Cup race. If you enter and win this Work Cup race, you not only win cash but the Works Car itself. A Works Car is designed for racing and has already been fully upgraded so there's no need to spend money in the Tuning Shop (although you can still adjust the car settings if required). The downside is that obtaining Works Cars somewhat break the game's structure and make things a lot more easier than they should be. However once you begin to experience Sega GT's flaws, that may be no bad thing.
I also recommend doing all the license tests with each manufacturer (24 in total) and aiming to beat the record lap time on each. For me, the license tests were actually one of the most enjoyable parts of my Sega GT playthrough. Just a preset car (no tuning or adjustments available) on a track against the clock. I was hooked trying to push each car as far as it could go and ended going above and beyond beating the preset record lap times. Doing this will not only give you access to all the Works Cups, it allows you to gain valuable experience with Sega GT's handling and physics system. Unfortunately you will still encounter problems in this area, but it does aliviate it somewhat. I appreciate not all players want or may have the ability/patience to beat these record lap times but I recommend trying your best to do so.
Some of my old SA License Replays from 2017
One department Sega GT does not lack in is the sheer number of cars available. There are well over 100 licensed cars to drive, most of them from Japanese manufacturers which is not surprising considering the game's origin. You have the big hitters like Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota, as well as smaller offerings from Suzuki and Daihatsu. For the European version, you have the addition of US car makers Ford and Dodge Viper (although there is only one car from each) as well as familiar continental names like Fiat, Audi, Peugeot, Opel/Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz & Renault. The cars are mainly from the 1990s and range from standard consumer fare (ie Suzuki Cappuccino, Renault Megane, Peugeot 206 & Mercedes SLK 230), so-called street racer types (ie Mazda RX-7, Nissan Skyliner R34, Mitsubishi Lancer GSR Evo 6 & Toyota Supra) to actual racing cars (ie Castrol Tom's Supra, Pennzoil Nismo GT-R & Amemiya Matsumoto-Kiyoshi RX-7 from the GT 1999 series & the Dodge Viper GTS/R 2000 Concept). A lots of cars are just variations of a particular model with different wheel drives and engine power (Nissan Skyliner being a prime example). As mentioned previously, some of these cars have to be won and cannot be bought. Also certain models can only be purchased from the Used Car section.
Sticking with cars, we now come to the standout feature of Sega GT: the Carrozzeria (car body shop)! Here you can actually make your own car within certain parameters. You get to choose a displacement level (engine power/class), engine type and location (where you put the engine will effect the handling), drive train (front, rear or 4 wheel drive) and finally a body type. Back in the day, a lot of expert players used this feature to make replica supercars from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and Lotus, as well as older cars like Cadillacs and 1960's Mini Coopers. Sadly some Carrozzeria body types from the Japanese version were omitted from the European release however I was able to transfer Carrozzeria cars made using those omitted body types from a Japanese/US save to my PAL save. Carrozzeria is the higlight of Sega GT however there are things that unfortunately bring it down. Carrozzeria cars are expensive and there is no option to test a creation before making the purchase. It is very possible to make a 'dud car' by coupling an engine to an unsuitable body and you may not realise this until after making the final purchase and taking it for a spin. Therefore you can end up wasting large chunks of cash. Of course, you can use the workaround of reloading your VMU save but this should not be required. You also have to undertake separate Carrozzeria license tests to build the more powerful cars (you must have passed the relevant standard licence test before attempting it) but these events are time trials on a short section of track, not even a full lap! Finally the expensive cost of Carrozzeria means you have to play through the majority of the game first to earn enough cash to get the best from it...and that is not necessarily a good thing (see below).
Start with the displacement
Then the engine type and location
Now the drive train, body and paint job
Congratulations...you have just made a car! This 'BANANABOAT' creation has also been fully upgraded in the Tuning Shop, hence the high stats.
And here's some that were made earlier..by the original expert players from back in 2000-2002!
This Lamborghini body type can only be created in the Japanese version but the car will work on PAL/US versions via the Car Trade function
Same applies to this 1960's Mini Cooper lookalike. Cannot be created on the US/PAL versions
If you name your Carrozzeria car PCWRZD13, it will handle like a dream! Actually this really IS my best handling creation.
Some of my old Carrozzeria Exhibition videos including some of the Japanese creations made by the original players from back in 2000-2001.
All cars in Sega GT are ranked by class (E/Extra, B A and SA). The Work cars can be identified by the black background on their class logo and Carrozzeria cars are identified by their orange backgrounds on their class logo.
Onto the race tracks themselves now and the game states there are 22 courses in total. However if you discount the reverse tracks and the 2 drag strips, there are only really 10 unique courses. They are all fictional courses and take place in different environments. You have two oval type tracks (Sprint Zone and Sky Peak Track), a course in the mountains (aptly named Snowy Mountain), two in a desert canyon (Great Rock Road and Deep Rock Road), two in a nighttime city/motorway location (Night Section A & B), one set in a picturesque European seaside town (Sky Peak Hill), one with a Formula racing vibe (Solid Circuit) and finally a short night course that has a strange 'horse racing' feel (Night Ground). There are also the short and long drag racing strips (Industrial 400 and Heat Stage 1000 respectively). Unfortunately while the backgrounds are nice enough, overall track design itself is very bland and under par compared to other Sega racers. The courses consist mainly of slight turns with the occasional sharper corner. In fact, there is only one real hairpin turn in the whole game (Great Rock Road)! The Night Section tracks are a highlight with plenty of sharp corners and circular turns, however even here you really expected more from Sega. Remember this is the company that had recently released coin-op racers like Daytona USA 2, Sega Rally 2, Scud Race and Le Mans 24 Hours. While I would not expect a game like Sega GT to have such elaborate and lively tracks, there should have been some genuine technical circuits that allow you to really push the car and your driving ability. However maybe there is reason why the courses are the way they are (see below).
Now we will discuss the races themselves. Firstly there are 4 Official Race classes (again ranging from E to SA). Each class has both standard Cup events that involve racing across multiple courses along with a one track Special Race that requires a Works or an Original/Carrozzeria car. You then have Event Races with their own criteria. Open races allow you to use any car you like, Small/Light/Large Events restrict you on engine size but have additional criteria for each event. For example, the 'Gumout Novice Car Cup' from the Light Events only allows cars less than 1900cc but also requires you to use a standard production vehicle with no upgrades. The 'Ford Racing Original Car Cup' from the Large Events does not have any power restrictions but only allows Carrozzeria cars to be used. You then have the Special Races which are a mixture of time attack, drag racing, a maximum speed event and the dreaded Clio Trophy One Make Race (more on this later). The Event Races are a good idea as it forces you to use different cars and prevents players from just ploughing through the game using the fastest vehicle possible. You can also pick up sponsors from the Event Races and they provide you with additional funds when you win again in future. Therefore you may wish to complete as many Event races as possible with your existing cars (after doing the standard license tests and Works Cups). Once you have won all the Official and Event races, you open up the World Speed King events that are divided by wheel type (Front Drive, Rear Drive and 4 Wheel Drive). World Speed King is somewhat anticlimatic as there is only one race on each event.
The sponsors are real life companies, mainly from the motorsports world. They differ from those found in the Japanese version.
McDonalds are also present as sponsors but don't expect any free Happy Meals! Excite are technically still around today but are much diminished (they still have a presence in Japan though)
Outside of the main Championship, you have Single Race mode where races are divided into Easy, Normal and Hard classes. Each class has its own preselection of licensed cars to choose from depending on engine power (easy class cars have the lowest power while hard class have the highest). Before racing, you need to choose from two basic tuning options: Grip or Drift. Dual mode is the two player mode and this only allows head-to-head racing; no CPU cars are present. Dual mode permits the use of any car from your garage that can be tuned before racing or from a preselection of cars with Grip or Drift tuning options (similar to Single Race mode). You also have a Time Attack mode that's basically a 3 lap solo race around each course with the obvious exception being the two 2 drag strips. Time Attack is sensibly divided into power class (E,B,A and SA) and gives you the ability to save ghost cars to your VMU. Unfortunately there is no option to make your own race with the CPU cars, only the preset ones in Championship mode.
Speaking of VMUs, the game allows you to save replays of every race and time trial (including qualifying laps). This allows you to replay events from either a TV style or standard driving views. It even allows you to save replays of 2 player/Dual races! This game also had online capabilities back in the day so you swap time trial ghosts and replay files with other players. This was done via the Internet option which gives access to a built-in Dreamkey browser and email facility. You also had the ability to upload your best time attack results to an internet ranking, however I am not sure if one was ever built for Europe (see the Extras post for more information). This is where Sega GT's long term replay value lies although you really need like-minded players to get the best out of this.
You can send a Sega GT Ghost file to your long lost friend.....
..and get this back in return!
Before I come onto Sega GT's fatal flaw, I'll discuss the Tuning Shop and Set Up facilities. With the exception of the Works Cars/Works Bodies, all cars can be upgraded via the Tuning Shop. Here you purchase new parts for your vehicle with the cash you have earned. There are mainly 3 upgrade levels for each component listed as either Step 1-3, or Street/Sports/Racing (Racing being the best). The only exceptions are the Stabiliser upgrade (Medium/Soft/Hard), the Brake Controller (only one upgrade) and Wheels (10 types available). Fully upgrading your car can be very expensive so I recommend sticking with the Works Cars, your favourite car models or car types you have to upgrade to win a race. If I upgrade a car, I normally choose the best parts straight away rather than doing it gradually. I then test out the upgraded vehicle and if it doesn't work for me, I'll just reload my VMU save. Once you have upgraded your vehicle or are using a Works Car, you have the ability to adjust its set up before each race event or time attack. This allows to adjust things like engine power, transmission, brake and downforce along with comprehensive suspension options for your car's spring rate, ride height, damper, camber and stabliser. It is very, very detailed although extremely daunting to anyone who isn't a car enthusiast. I should point out the 'y/RPM axis' numbers on the transmission graph obscures individual gear ratio rpms so it's difficult to make precise adjustments. It is possible to get around this but this design flaw can be a real pain (see the following pictures for an visual explanation). However my biggest gripe here is that Set Up should have been in 'real time', ie have the car on a test track, press pause to access the tuning menu and make adjustments, then unpause to see continue driving to instantly feel the change just made. Instead you have to go back through the menus and enter into a race/trial and if you find the settings do not work for you, you need to go back into Set Up. Having to constantly go in and out of Set Up is an unnecessary grind and puts off all but the most enthusiastic of players. Also, when you take a look at the PAL instruction manual and look for help on Set Up (or Carrozzeria for that matter), there is a note saying "See the website for a detailed guide". Well that's no good if you never built the website in the first place! In contrast, Homologation Special came with a very nice technical note guide for this; a copy can viewed here at: https://archive.org/details/Sega_GT_Homologation_Special_Technical_Note_2000_J_color/mode/2up
The Set Up option is very in-depth and requires a lot of trial and error to get things right. I guess it's easier if you are a car enthusiast!
As mentioned, you can see on the graph, the Y axis numbers get in the way of the gear ratio line numbers
Spring rates affect the car responsiveness and steering. The higher the level, the quicker the car will steer but it will also respond more violently to road bumps!
Well I've put this off long enough so it's now time to address Sega GT's biggest problem: the handling and car physics. Having played Vanishing Point, I'm automatically suspicious when I see complex tuning options as they may be used to hide fundamental flaws. Unlike Vanishing Point though, Sega GT is the type of game where you expect vehicle upgrades and adjustments so I have no problem with their presence. However the default handling is 'inconsistent' to put it mildly. The majority of E Class cars are perfectly fine as their low speed makes them controllable. However once you start driving certain upgraded B Class cars and taking part in the A Class Works Cups, the control issues become very obvious. It is like somebody took a arcade racing coin-op, pulled off the steering wheel and attached a console pad in its place. Driving in Sega GT feels extremely nervous and you literally have to 'brush' the controller stick to guide certain cars around a corner and avoid oversteer/spinouts. This particularly applies to the SA racing cars. You can use a Dreamcast steering wheel with Sega GT but it makes little difference. Special mention must be given to the Renault Clio V6/Renault Clio Trophy cars as they have some of the worse default controls I have ever encountered in a racer! Handling like a cross between a remote control car and a broken shopping trolley, the slightest steer will cause these cars to lurch out of control and spin out. The only way to remedy this is to either choose manual transmission and keep the car in permanently high gear (forces the revs down) or spending ridiculous amounts of time in the Set Up section. I chose the latter and eventually made it drivable after a lot of trial and error, however there was no sense of achievement when I succeeded as it should never have been like this in the first place! In my eyes, Sega GT commits a cardinal sin: a default, unmodified car should never be undriveable. I can accept a low top speed and poor acceleration, but I cannot accept that. If a player messes around with the tuning settings and made a car undrivable as a result, that's fair enough but the default option should always be controllable.
Sega GT's physics are indeed complex and nuanced, and each car does have a unique feel. You can also feel the changes in the driving physics when you purchase upgrades or make adjustments. However that doesn't make driving a good experience. Game like Ferrari F355 Challenge are hard to master but its controls are good enough for you to keep trying. If you lose a race on Ferrari F355 Challenge, it's purely down to a lack of skill/experience and a player can remedy this by practicing and trying again. The best control I managed to get from Sega GT was a kind of 'twitch pivot' steering where the car feels like its partially on Scalextric rails. The fastest cars in the game have a sort of 'plastic car' feel where the slightest bump sends shocks through the springs and causes them to spin out on the slightest steer. Driving in Sega GT can feel 'out of control' and players will not want to continue if the remedy is out of their hands. Granted, you can make default, uncontrollable cars somewhat drivable with extensive adjustments but only the most die-hard will want to do this (due to the lack of a real time Set Up) and even they will still have an unstable, floaty, 'sticky' feel!
When you experience the bad handling, you will then understand why the track design is as bland as it is. The car physics would be much more exposed by technical tracks with snaking bends and hairpin turns! A lot of people say that Sega GT's physics are the way they are as it's meant to be realistic. Well, my response to them is just look at this video:
Despite the bad handling on some of the faster cars, the race events themselves are relatively easy to beat with the right vehicle. The only real problem I had was with the 'Ford Racing Original Car Cup' event; I had to make a uncontrollable Dodge Viper clone as no other Carrozzeria car I made could outrun one of the CPU cars on the Sprint Zone track! The collision physics between cars however is totally unrealistic and feels like toy cars whacking into each other!
Another issue with Sega GT is the lack of autosave. You need to save everything manually so bear this in mind after completing an event. I understand that autosave may not be desirable if you have wasted money making a bad Carrozzeria car or upgrading a vehicle that doesn't cut the mustard, however the option should have still been present. The sub-menu layouts can also be confusing. For example, if I wanted to sell a car in Championship mode, I have to first select that particular car from the Car Select option. I then have to go into Car Dealer and go to the 'Used Car' option down the bottom above 'Exit'. As it's written in the same font as 'Exit' and obscured by the car manufacturer's logos, it's easy to miss it. Once you go into the 'Used Car' option, you then have to select the 'Sell' option (again just above the word 'Exit' and written in the same font). It would have better to have given the 'Used Car' section its own logo for selection and once inside, all cars you can buy and sell can be seen easily. However the worse example is trying to view your lap records for certain events. In order to view my lap record for a particular License Test, I have to go through 8 different menus! Far easier to have put all player records under one option in the Mode Select menu.
The Used Car option is located down the bottom in the Car Dealer screen and is easy to miss if you are not looking
Same applies with the Sell option. You need to go into the Used Car option first to get to it. Could have been done better!
Sega GT is definitely deep but then so is the Marianna Trench and most people do not want to go down there! I can see a lot of players getting frustrated with the physics and just charging through the events to win, whacking walls along the way (I did on my first playthrough). Yes, you can make cars handle a bit better by spending time in the Set Up option but the format make its an absolutely grind with no guarantee of success. In short a lot of effort for very little or nothing in return. Only die hard car enthusiasts will have the patience for this. While Sega Europe only really did the localisation for Sega GT, they could have pushed for a 're-edit' of the game that made the Carrozzeria the main focus. A strategy book (like the two released in Japan) or VHS guide containing the best replays from the top Japanese players would have helped. Seeing the game played at the highest level could have motivated some of the top Ferrari F355 and Sega Rally 2 players from Europe to give the game a chance. The likelihood any of this was considered though is pure wishful thinking.
I would hate to end this review on a bad note, so I'll briefly mention the surprise gem that is Pocket GT. I am happy to confirm that all three variations of this VMU mini game are present in the PAL version of Sega GT. I've done a separate review for Pocket GT which will be in the next post however I can say it's definitely worth playing. While you can transfer any money earned from Pocket GT into Sega GT, there are other more lucrative ways to increase your cash balance (like replaying a race).
To conclude, Sega GT is more a 'motorsports enthusiast' title than it is a racing game. I really wanted to like it and I gave it the best chance I could by doing two complete playthroughs. Unfortunately, while there is some good here (the Carrozzeria and the standard license tests), it is badly let down by inconsistent controls/physics and bland track design. Just because Sega excelled at one type of racing game does not automatically mean they excel in another. If you crave serious racing action on the Dreamcast, I would recommend Test Drive Le Mans, Sega's own Ferrari F355 Challenge or even the Formula One games instead. However if you are excited by terms like "Tom's Supra", "V-Type 12 Cylinder Engine", and "Natural Aspiration" and are prepared to put the time into making/tuning your favourite car, mastering its driving physics and can swap Time Attack replay/ghost files with like-minded players, you will find value here.
FINAL SCORE: FIVE OUT OF TEN (6/10 if you can develop a enthusiast following around the online/Time Attack functions).
It's likely the GT stands for 'Grand Tour' (after the racing series in Japan). However what do YOU think it stands for?. See the poll above
minor grammar and spelling edits
Last edited by rjay63 on Thu Sep 28, 2023 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
This mini game can be downloaded direct to your VMU from the Sega GT disc. From the main 'Mode Select' menu, go to Memory Card and then Minigame. You will then get the option to download the American, European or Japanese variations (make sure you have enough space on your VMU). Pocket GT is basically two games. The first is a very enjoyable overhead arcade racer that feels similar to an original Gameboy title. The second is a kind of 'A-Life' title where you need to exercise, work and rest your character before the Cup races that take place every 30 days. When you start the Pocket GT minigame, you have four options: TRAINING, QUICK RACE, STOREHOUSE and SOUND. The SOUND option can be used to mute the game and I recommend doing so as the only noise you get is the occasional bleep. The STOREHOUSE is where any money you earned from TRAINING or QUICK RACE is kept.
Now each variation of Pocket GT has 6 race courses (most are unique to each variation but some are duplicated). Basically you control a mini F1 car on a vertical overhead course. You accelerate with the A button, brake with the B button and can use the D-pad to move the car around. There is a timer on each course that gets replenished when you pass a checkpoint. You also have Hearts that act as your life bar. During the race, you need to dodge walls, blocks and oil slicks as well as overtake rival racers. If you crash into wall or collide with a rival car, you will lose a Heart that acts as your life bar. When your Hearts reach 0 or you run out of time, you are forced to retire. Thankfully there are additional Hearts on the track you can pick up along with Clocks for additional time. Some of the courses are very tough and a lot of practice/repeat plays will be required to complete them. The control is excellent; very impressive for a VMU mini game!
If you play the courses in QUICK RACE mode, you get a fully powered car with 3 Hearts. However even with this setup, coming 1st in a race is extremely difficult. Unfortunately you are only awarded a miserly cash sum if you finish in the top 3 (100 for 3rd, 300 for 2nd, 500 for 1st place). If you want to earn more money, you will need to take part in the TRAINING mode.
A video showing the racing in action on the VMU. This race was from the 'European' variation of Pocket GT. Very difficult to play this in front of a camcorder!
TRAINING mode is the main game. You play a race driver and you have 180 days to work, train, rest and race in order to earn money and special cars for use in Sega GT (more on the latter later). You also take part in 6 cup races that each take place every 30 days; they are the Sunday Cup, Novice Cup, Normal Cup, GT Cup, Masters Cup & Kings Cup. The first option is STATUS where you get to see your characters stats. These consist of HP, Power, Smart, Speed, Stamina and Money. The next option is also called TRAINING but I will call this sub-menu TRAINING/EXERCISE to avoid confusion with the first menu. Here you pay money to take part in various exercises that will increase/decrease your characters stats. For example in the American variation, you have Push Ups that increase your HP and Power but decrease your Smart level. Conversely you have Study that will increase your Smart level but decreases your HP and Power. When you perform an exercise you will get either a Very Good, Good and Bad outcome. Very Good increases the relevant stats more/deducts the relevant stats less while Bad does the opposite by increasing the relevant stats less and deducting the relevant stats more. These outcomes are random as far as I can tell. You also have the JOB option where you can earn money for the various exercises. In the American variation, you can earn money from being a Postman, Salesman or Welder. As well as earning money, these jobs will affect your character stats again with a Very Good, Good or Bad outcome. TRAINING/EXERCISE and JOBS will both deduct your Stamina so you need to rest your character with the REST option to replenish it. If you do not rest your character, they will end up in hospital due to lack of stamina and your stats will be severely deducted. If they end up in hospital 3 times during TRAINING then your character dies and its game over. The final option is TIME ATTACK where you get to race on exactly the same course as the upcoming Cup Race. Doing any TRAINING/EXERCISE, JOB, REST or TIME ATTACK deducts one day from your total. If you end up in hospital, then you lose 3 days. The game will end if you last all 180 days (after completing the Kings Cup) or your character dies. Any money earned is added to the STOREHOUSE which can then be transferred into your Sega GT game. This also applies to any monies won in the aforementioned QUICK RACE mode.
This screen shows the number of days you have remaining before the next cup race. The character posture also indicates the amount of stamina they have left. If they are standing up and smiling, then they have enough stamina. If they are in the above pose or kneeling down, they probably need a REST.
The Very Good, Good & Bad animation screens. These outcomes affect how many points are awarded/deducted respectively
. Push-ups cost 200 and increase your HP and Power, but decrease your Smart level
The Welding JOB will award you 900 to spend on TRAINING/EXERCISING. This is the highest paying JOB in the 'American' variation of Pocket GT. However it will severely deplete your stamina so REST afterwards is normally required to prevent hospitalisation or death. The BAD outcome on this causes severe damage!
Hospitalisation occurs when you lose too much stamina and do not REST regularly. If this happens 3 times during TRAINING, then its game over. However any money you have earned from jobs is saved to the STOREHOUSE.
A lot of effort has been put into this TRAINING mode and you can see this in its execution. Excellent animations have been made for each task and thought has put into the character stat system. Strategy involving the various exercises, jobs and rest functions are required if you want to last the full 180 days. However there is a big problem here and that is the cup races themselves. In order to get the same optimal car set up as per QUICK RACE, you have to have very high character stats. To get the stats high enough within the 30 day period between Cups requires a lot of Good/Very Good outcomes when you do Jobs and Exercise. As outcomes are based on luck, this is not always possible. If you do not have high character stats, then your car will run slowly and you will likely only have one heart so a single crash will end the race. You might be able to complete the course with a slow car but you will not get anywhere near 1st place. Basically this mode makes a hard task even harder and most people are just not going to bother. If you do manage to finish in the top 3, you will get a few thousand in cash (except the Kings Cup where you get around 10,000 cash if you finish 1st).
In the extremely unlikely event you manage to complete the majority of Cup races in 1st place, you may earn a special car that can be used in Sega GT. However there is a second problem; there seems to be bug in the PAL version of Sega GT that prevents the special car from being loaded! If you have just have money in the STOREHOUSE, the VMU transfer works fine but when I had the Special Car, the screen went black and the game crashed. As a result, I lost the car and my money (Sega GT automatically deletes the STOREHOUSE content during the transfer). To be honest, I think the Special Cars may already be in PAL Sega GT and this is just a carry through from the Japanese version (where you had car manufacturer variations instead of regions).
A video showing Sega GT crash when I tried to transfer the money and Special Car I earned in from Pocket GT. If you only have money in the STOREHOUSE, the transfer will work as normal.
If you have high enough character stats for a fast car, here's a cheat. If you are about to fail the Cup race, hit the MODE button on your VMU to go to the system menu. Then just restart the game and go back into TRAINING. You will be able to attempt that same cup race again. Repeat as many time as necessary. If you do not have high enough character stats, then do not bother with this (just carry on training and wait for the next Cup Race, or let your character die).
The rare occurrence of a 1st place win on a Cup Race. Doing this awards more money and the chance to bag a Special Car...although as mentioned earlier, the transfer did not work.
Another problem with the TRAINING mode are that the TRAINING/EXERCISES and JOBS are listed in Japanese text. So the game has only been half-translated. While you can eventually work out what each task is, it seems the developers were rushing things with Pocket GT. Finally it's fairly easy to earn a lot of money in TRAINING mode by simply ignoring/failing the cup races and just doing JOBS and REST until your character dies or the 180 days are up. Do this repeatedly and you will end up with a hefty balance in the STOREHOUSE. To be honest, you can get more money just by replaying races in Sega GT itself so the whole thing does become somewhat pointless.
The top menus are in English but the JOB & TRAINING/EXERCISE sub-menus are not
To get the best out of Pocket GT, stick to the QUICK RACES. Here you can enjoy some enjoyable, but devilishly challenging arcade racing action with great controls (for a VMU game). Pocket GT would have been even better if they stripped out the TRAINING mode and allowed you to win big money and prizes just by the racing alone.
To conclude, Pocket GT is an absolute highlight for the VMU and the Sega GT experience as a whole. Here's a final tip: running over an oil slick will slow you down but you are invincible/ghostly for a few seconds after. This state can allow you to overtake rivals on narrow sections.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10 (5/10 if you want to really want to slog through the TRAINING mode and Cup Races).
edit for grammar and spelling
Last edited by rjay63 on Thu Sep 28, 2023 5:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
• Sega GT Homologation Special was released in Japan in February 2000. The US version came out in August 2000 and the PAL version showed up at the start of December 2000.
• Sega GT was converted to the PC in 2001. It was basically the same game as the Dreamcast version, minus the internet features and the Pocket GT download. It was the closest thing to Gran Turismo PC players could get at the time.
•The sequel Sega GT 2002 and its upgrade Sega GT Online (2003) were released exclusively for the original XBOX. No other games in this series have been made since and it's unlikely any will be.
• It may be the case that Sega Europe never built a Sega GT microsite or internet ranking for PAL players. When you chose the internet option, the link on the frontpage is http://segagt.dricas.ne.jp/eu-toppage/. Looking at archive.org (https://web.archive.org/web/20021024142839*/http://segagt.dricas.ne.jp:80/eu-toppage/), all you get is a "Coming Soon" holding page that was around until late 2002. At the time of Sega GT's PAL release, a lot of online titles like Quake 3 and PSO were come out so I guess Sega Europe had limited resources and had to prioritise, plus the DC was about to be discontinued. However the game's end credits do show a European "Network Team" so perhaps a site/ranking was built but never released. Still, the Dreamkey email functions work for swapping ghosts/replay files.
The top picture shows the front page when you chose INTERNET from Sega GT's Mode Select menu and the bottom picture shows the 'Coming Soon' website captured by Archive.org
• While any US internet ranking is gone for good, you can see remnants of the Japanese 'Dricas' internet ranking for best times at Archive.org. The times were split into classes (E, B, A and SA) and also between licensed vehicles and Carrozzeria/Works Cars. Some of the best times are incredibly fast and I think when it was active, you had the ability to upload a replay file or ghost (some old VMI files are present). The Dreamcast ranking archive is broken however the PC one seems to work fine (does not display any information about Tuning/Set Up options though). There were also 'Sega Challenge Cup' competitions which seemed to involve downloading a VMU save file where you race on a track under certain criteria. Prize includes mobile phone straps, T-Shirts and the fashion sensation that was the Sega GT jacket.
• As mentioned in my review, two strategy guides were produced for the Japanese version. There is the 'Special Kanzen Kouryaku Guide' and another described as the 'Special Saisoko Setting Guide'. Both are on eBay at the time of writing if you really want to purchase them. Credit to Segaretro.org for the pictures and description.
• Pocket GT was originally called 'Pocket H*m*' in Japan so no surprise a name change took place when it was released in the West! In that version, it seems the variations were done on car sponsors instead of regions. No idea about the Special cars though. Pocket GT is also the Japanese title for an unrelated Gameboy Advance racer.
• An infamous review for Sega GT: Homologation Special in the UK's EDGE magazine (Issue #83: https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:Edge_UK_083.pdf&page=70). Due to the bad score and EDGE's highly regarded reputation (at the time), UK players who considered buying the Japanese game decided against it. This caused an import shop that had pre-ordered copies of Sega GT: Homologation Special to take a big loss.
"However, in early 2000 problems arose when Sega GT [Homologation Special] came out [in Japan]. It seemed that in a period of a month, our world just turned upside down. We'd started increasing our trade sales again due to our rival no longer selling imports and it became apparent we'd become the ones to come to. Unfortunately Sega GT was the first game which signaled our rival's return to distributing imports. As they were much larger than us and also sold UK releases, a lot of people just bought from them instead. We got 400 copies of Sega GT and expected to sell them all pretty quickly. But most of our trade sales had disappeared or been reduced to a fraction of what they would have been, so we only sold about 100. It then got a score of 5 in Edge magazine, which is what most of the Dreamcast customers seemed to be reading at that time, a score which killed the sales of the game for us. We were left with about 280 copies of a game which had cost us about £40 per copy.
Further adding to that problem was the release of Biohazard Code Veronica which had been released just before Sega GT. I can't remember what the issue was (no RGB compatibility or something?) but something messed our sales up and we'd been left with about 100 surplus copies of that game. And around the same time we also had Virtua Striker and Virtua Athlete, of which we'd also over-ordered by 100pcs. I think altogether we were suddenly overstocked by about 550 games and were down by about 22 thousand pounds. We'd been wiped out more or less in a month". Original Bordersdown Thread: https://bordersdown.net/threads/126120-Retro-Arena-Dreamcast-Racers/page2
• It seems there was quite a dedicated community of Sega GT players on the GameFAQS message boards between 2000-2002. Unfortunately none of the topic or messages were ever preserved (I've checked Archive.org)
• Kats Sato was in charge of the European localisation of Sega GT. This was the same guy who was also Executive Producer for Metropolis Street Racer.
It's official: Sega GT makes you smart! An expert North American player from back in the day is now a Mathematics Professor in Canada!! https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jchodoriwsky. In the early 2000's, he was know as 'Shinkutat' and wrote a Sega GT set up/tuning guide on GameFAQs. He also had a website called 'Shinkukat's Sega GT Warehouse Of Goodness' once hosted at the now defunct Geocities.com. It was saved from oblivion by a Geocities preservation site, however that archive is now full of redirects and NSFW content. Therefore I made a copy at blogspot.com; it goes into great detail about using the Carrozzeria to built replicas of your favourite cars. https://segagtwarehousearchive.blogspot.com/
• The Time Attack internet rankings allowed you to upload ghost files for other users to download. However the downloads were implemented in a rather odd way. There were only 5 ghost downloads per rank and these were the 1st fastest ghost, 10th fastest ghost, 100th fastest ghost, 500th fastest ghost and 1000th fastest ghosts. So if you ranked 2nd or 3rd in a table, nobody could download your ghost! Another issue was that some of the rankings only had about 2/3 entries anyway so you could only ever download the top ghost. I assume it was done this way to stop the site being overwhelmed by VMU files. Unfortunately there was no option to upload or download replay files.
• Sega GT's in-game Time Attack leaderboards do not give any indication of the car the player had used. Therefore I assume the car models displayed with the times on the internet rankings were extracted from the ghost file.
US: segagt.web.dreamcast.com (no archive remains).
There are a few issues to consider if Sega GT's online ranking is to ever be restored. Firstly, each version of the game has different cars selections; the JPN version has the least (Japanese only cars but there are more Carrozzeria bodies), the US version added Ford, Dodge and Audi, and the EU version also had those along with Alfa Romero, Mercedes, Fiats, Opels and Renaults. Secondly, ghosts cars/replays created on the JPN version will not be detected by the PAL version. Finally, Time Attack modes are not interesting to the majority of players, particularly on a game that requires lots of tweaking, time and patience to get the best out of it.