News Article

Matters of Import: Taking Initial D: Perfect Shift Online For A Spin

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

A Not-So-Hot Rod

Free-to-play is all the rage these days, with in-app purchases proving profitable for developers while allowing users to decide exactly how much they want to spend and everyone — from Square-Enix to Capcom to probably your Gran — has an iOS game or MMO available to install for free with optional micro-transactions attached.

So it should be no surprise to hear that Sega are attempting to bring a free-to-play version of their popular Initial D racing series to the Japanese 3DS, but there’s one slight problem.

It’s not a game.

The thrill of taking part in illicit street races around Japan’s winding mountain roads, drifting through the night in an old Toyota, fierce racer rivalries; these are the things that have taken Initial D from being "just another '90s manga" to a multimedia phenomenon spanning live action movies, arcade games and more anime than you can shake an exhaust pipe at. These things are almost entirely missing from Initial D: Perfect Shift Online, a “game” where your only concern is to shift up or down gear, and only when you’re expressly told to do so.

“But it’s free!” you cry. Puzzle & Dragons is free, and is gracious enough to include an actual puzzle game within all the dragon-raising and dungeon-walking. Sega’s own Phantasy Star Online 2 is also free, and that is arguably one of the most perfect examples available of balancing the expectations of gamers with the financial need to encourage micro-transactions.

To be brutally honest, there is simply no game here. True, you can purchase new cars and customise them, and there is some small tactical element in choosing which helper to use during a race to give yourself an advantage, but other than that it’s just pressing one of two buttons (and the A button at the start of the race – try to keep calm when you read that – I know it’s a lot to take in) when the game tells you to while waiting to be rewarded for being an obedient button-pusher at the end of the race.

If you enjoy watching Japanese cars sliding sideways around corners, then sadly this game is not for you, as you need to focus all your attention on your gear shift lights when you’re “racing” and therefore have little opportunity to soak up the visuals. If you enjoy driving Japanese cars sideways around corners – this game is still not for you, as there is absolutely no driving involved at any point.

We do of course recognise that Initial D: Perfect Shift Online is currently less than a week old and in closed beta testing — it even carries a warning that the game balance is subject to change — but short of throwing it all out and starting again there’s little chance of this "Casual Race Battle" becoming anything even remotely engaging for Initial D fans or racing enthusiasts.

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User Comments (17)

audiobrainiac

#2

audiobrainiac said:

Perhaps because the cars are imports? Or maybe because we don't WANT them to import this game? lol

Sanquine

#3

Sanquine said:

This looks boring... I don't know why you should import this:P? And 3DS has a region lock....

Windy

#4

Windy said:

Actually from the Video I thought it looked pretty cool. I know there is no driving but gear shifting can be very tactical. I hope this makes it I will give it a try.

unrandomsam

#8

unrandomsam said:

Initial D Arcade Stage 7 AAX looks pretty good. Pity the Japanese Arcade part of Sega basically never seems to have any involvement with the West whatsoever.

TruenoGT

#9

TruenoGT said:

My expectations weren't high, but as a big Initial D fan I was hoping for more. Looks and sounds pretty boring... the GBA Initial D was pretty fun and I was hoping for something closer to that.

Le_Gazman

#10

Le_Gazman said:

Oh dear. I wnt straight past the words and started watching the video instead, hoping for big things. What's there looks barely adequate for an iOS game, and even then it'd be considered shallow.

A fun racing game with real cars, manga flare and some silly dance music would have been right up my street.

The reality is a sad lump of bum mucus.

Magikarp3

#11

Magikarp3 said:

:(

Back to the arcades I go then. I had such high hopes for this too, until I found out that the entire game was just gear switching :/

OorWullie

#12

OorWullie said:

Its a clone of CSR racing on Android which has been out for a while but with much worse graphics.

ueI

#13

ueI said:

It sounds like Kerry has spent significant time with her games. Why don't they qualify for reviews?

Gioku

#15

Gioku said:

woooooooooooooooow...

...I did not have high expectations for this when I heard it'd be free-to-play and would involve no driving, but... just wow...

allav866

#16

allav866 said:

Sorry, but I'm gonna be an idiot and go right out and say this:
When I read the title of the article, I read
"Matters of Import: Taking Initial Sadface Perfect Shift Online for a Spin"

TheRealThanos

#17

TheRealThanos said:

Terrible graphics, horrible/broken English (Go Next! Behind!) and indeed no gameplay to be found whatsoever. No great loss at all.
@Windy it could have been tactical, if only the game wouldn't tell you EXACTLY when to shift gears, so the tactical part of that is gutted as well.
@allav866 Except the eyes are below the face. But not much idiocy going on otherwise: it is just what quick looks will do to your brains sometimes... ;)

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