Today was supposed to be a busy day. I had many things planned to do: mow the lawn, wash the car, finish a shelving unit for my games and write one or two game reviews. While waiting for the morning dew to dry off of the grass, I decided to play a game. I picked an innocent-looking title from my shelves and popped it into my PS2. This was at 9 A.M. Twelve hours later I finally broke the spell that the game created and came back to reality. Suddenly I realized that the sun had set and none of my tasks had even been touched. I’m sure that most of you reading this would expect that the game had to be a blockbuster title like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear or Gran Turismo. However, I’m sure that 99% of the readers have never heard of this low-budget title. The game is simply calledRoad Trip, and what a wonderful trip it was.
The story behind the game is rather simple. The Road TripWorld is one that is populated by living vehicles. The President has decided to step down from his role as leader. To choose a worthy replacement, he has decreed that whomever can conquer all of the world’s tournaments can then have the opportunity to race him for his office. You begin the game as a simple citizen that dares to take up the challenge. It is at this point that the game’s tentacles reach out and grab hold of you.
The world that you find yourself in is huge with many cities scattered across it. Populating these cities are hundreds of NPC characters for you to interact with. Some offer helpful information, quite a few ask to join your racing team while others may request your assistance in solving their personal conflicts. These tasks can vary in difficulty from finding a missing girl, to delivering a package for a tired mailman halfway across the world or collecting 100 special Q Coins scattered across the land. For each of the 100 different assignments there is a special stamp that you collect in a book. One of the most challenging stamps to acquire is the one for visiting the 100 different photo shops throughout the world where you have your picture taken at the local tourist sites. Even though this sounds like enough to keep you busy, it hardly scratches the surface of the game.
There are over 250 different parts that you can collect for your car. Brakes, tires, engines, horns, headlights, and car shells are all available and upgradeable. Custom paint shops can be found in each city so that you can change the color of each and every car body that you collect in either a single or two-toned paint scheme. Members of your race team can also be upgraded and painted to your heart’s content. One of the nice features of the game is that if you change team members, all of the parts automatically are shifted from the former to the newer member so you do not have to spend more money to get them properly outfitted. Twenty mini-games are awaiting to be discovered including the likes of a 9-hole golf course and a 3-on-3 soccer match. You also are responsible for creating an entire city by recruiting unhappy citizens throughout the land to relocate from their current residence. In-between all of these extracurricular activities we have the real meat of the sandwich, the races.
Before you start to get involved with the racing you might want to clear your calendar first. There are Maze Races, One-on-one Races, Team Races, Grand Prix Races, Barrel Dodging Races, Obstacle Course Races, Mountain Climbing Races and even a World Rally Race. There are over 100 different races that you must compete in to complete the game. Your main source of income comes from winning these races. Any money that is won by either you or any team member goes into your pocket to be spent as you see fit. Perhaps you can begin to understand how I lost an entire day to this game and only be about twenty-five percent complete.