Retro Driving Games: Taito Side By Side 2 Evoluzione
I’ve always loved arcade driving games no matter how old, especially the ones which featured tuned Japanese performance cars like the Side By Side/Battle Gear series. By the very early 1990s the driving games being introduced finally had vaguely realistic graphics and the improved physics of the cars were great to see and step above 1980s classics like Outrun.
By the mid-1990s there were a ton of arcade driving games to choose from Sega and Taito and these two companies definitely had their fingers on the pulse. So it was only the other day while walking past a “game center” tucked away in a far corner of a local Izumiya Super Center when I saw a row of old school driving games like the original Daytona USA and Side By Side 2 Evoluzione. There were a couple of newer driving games like Initial D and Side By Side’s great, great, great grandson Battle Gear 4, but Side By Side 2 caught my eye having not seen it anywhere for a very long time. It’s easy to forget how chunky the graphics were even as late as 1997 (when Side By Side 2 Evoluzione was released) considering Gran Turismo was released for the Playstation game console in the same year with about the same graphic quality.
This game is all about fun driving physics though so the graphics don’t impede too much on enjoyment. 100 yen is all it took to get started and after selecting your car and transmission type, you’re on your way. I wasn’t so sure at the time but it felt like there was a least a little difference between FWD, 4WD and RWD handling physics, but being a “touge” style driving simulator all cars could easily break into oversteer with a quick turn of the steering wheel. It was great sitting on the start line in the R32 GT-R waiting for the lights to turn green and pumping the throttle to the sound of the blow-off valve and flames spitting from the exhaust! Once the race started it was wheelspin through 1st, 2nd and a little chirp into 3rd… good fun and excellent attention to detail for a game introduced back in ’97.
After going through the best part of 1,000 yen and annoying a bunch of waiting school kids, a flashback hit me. What was that arcade game that had a motorcycle on the left and a car on the right and players raced through what looked like Tokyo and then into the mountains? That’s it, Dangerous Curves! I have very fond memories of playing that game before Side By Side and other popular driving games were released. Dangerous Curves came out in 1995 and featured a car closely resembling a BNR32 Skyline GT-R and a sports bike of some sort. After the late 1990s it seems like it vanished into thin air, never to be seen again. I’ve since found only a little information about it, there are some for sale around but it isn’t the most sought after game, mainly due to its size and very hefty 405kg (892 pounds) weight!
I hope Dangerous Curves is hiding in a game center around Osaka somewhere, I’d love to be able to play it again along with that other classic driving game from the early 1990s, Virtua Racing.
Words: Justin Karow
Images: Justin Karow/Taito Corp.