Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally
Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally is a completely different game than its predecessor. About the only thing they have in common is you race cars and could submit times for prizes through the Disk Fax service. It uses a 3D perspective, like other arcade racing games, rather than an overhead view. The objective is straightforward, with the player being tasked with picking from three separate courses to race through before time expires. Each course also has branches you'll pick from while racing, similar to Sega's OutRun. Each branch is a different environment with its own twists and turns and obstacles to avoid. You have three vehicles you can pick from, each with their own strength and weaknesses. The first is the Kattobi, which has the best acceleration but is tough to control in the less-than-ideal road conditions that you'll likely come across. The next is the Yonque, which is the balanced vehicle with good-but-not-great speed and handling. Lastly there’s the Monster truck, which can take the most punishment, but remains the slowest of the trio due to its large frame. There’s a damage meter that’s displayed while racing, and if it drops to zero your car is totaled and the game ends. It can be repaired, however, by two methods. The first is a repair checkpoint, which you choose the placement of when beginning a race. You can also choose the repair option while pausing, however the more damage it has the more valuable time it will take. Each area possesses a time limit, but you're also granted a time bank of 20 seconds to start with. This will begin depleting once you’ve taken too long to complete a section, which is shown on the lower display while racing. However, if you finish a section before the time required, the difference will be added to your time bank. With that in mind, it's wise to try to finish the easier sections as quickly as possible to give yourself a buffer for the more hazardous and tricky parts later on. There are four gears for your vehicle, plus a special fifth gear called "Hot", indicated by a meter that’s filled up by collecting exclamations marks scattered throughout the course. Collect enough and you'll be able to trigger this gear, which will make your vehicle fly to even higher speeds. Despite all this, Famicom Grand Prix II feels a little bland overall. It’s well-designed, but it just lacks the depth of its predecessor. The music is nice and serves as a good counterpart to OutRun, but it’s all a bit redundant nowadays.