about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Move over Initial D, I have Initial G

In high school and college, my exposure to motorsport was limited to watching Formula 1 and playing driving games like Gran Turismo and the Initial D arcade game series.

I remember how it was such a big deal back then, especially to the Initial D crowd, to understand the idiosyncrasies of the game's physics and how to successfully exploit them to make the fastest possible course time records. The first three games in particular had this ridiculous "eraser" trick that involved abusing the sequential gear shift to "erase" speed and understeer.

When the fourth game came along with revamped physics, each corner had an arbitrary speed limit. If you exceeded this speed, the game would impose a "penalty" on you, force your car to understeer, and hit the corner's outside wall. Aficionados later discovered a technique called the "penalty cancel," which involved fancy pedalwork this time. Initial D Arcade Stage 4 also basically drifted and decelerated the car for you as long as you made a certain style of corner entry - look Ma no downshifts!

As you can see none of these things was terribly realistic. If I wanted realism I had the Gran Turismo franchise and Forza Motorsport 2 to fulfill that.

Then along came my trackdays in Subic and Batangas...which I've talked about at length in previous posts.

Last Friday, while wating for Mav to arrive from work, I took a spin in the Initial D Arcade Stage 5 machine - the latest installment of the arcade racer. This game is the most realistic of the series yet, with no stupid "eraser" or "penalty cancel" tricks to exploit. You really have to downshift to second gear for the mountain hairpins, as you would in real life, and depending on your car, you WILL understeer if you overcook the entrance of a turn.

It's actually amazing how my perspective has changed. Now that I've proven myself a handy driver in actual circuit time attacks, I look at Initial D Arcade Stage 5 and don't really consider it a big deal any more. Taking to Akina and Irohazaka, I appreciate how the game's driving physics are finally correctly realistic, but because I do not feel any of the G-forces of cornering and braking, I am all the more aware that I am just playing a game.

By the time Mav arrived, I had set my personal best times at Akina and Irohazaka, slashing two or three seconds from my beginning attempts. It definitely felt like I was driving at those two infamous mountain passes, and as before, I was sweating from the concentration and effort. However, it just did not compare to the visceral thrill of carrying speed through Brian's Corner, properly attacking the double apex of R-Bend, or successfully hooking up at all the little corner gutters around Subic International Raceway.

Initial D aficionados can keep hogging the machines. Aibo and I race for real.

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