King Of The Spirits

Atlus, 1995, Japan, SEGA Saturn

Summary: 7 of 10

This is a game that turned out to be far better than I expected.
What is special about the game is the tracks, which consist of very steep mountains. Speed is fast! In 2 player mode the screen can be devided horizontally and vertically, too, which is really cool. You can drive alone or one-on-one against CPU or a friend and apply a lot of tuning to your car.

The downfalls that I have to mention are:
Getting used to the game may be annoying at first, since the collision with the track borders really costs a lot of speed. The tight tracks won't make steering easier. It definitely is worth to find the right car to drive.
And I experienced a bad effect with some untuned cars: you get sick playing the game. Just like Doom may cause some players to get sick, this game got the same effect if you drive a car with very soft suspension and collide a lot.  But that was only in the beginning.

Graphics: 7.5 of 10

All in all, there is no reason to complain about the graphics.
The tracks look better than the cars do.
Sometimes the track-textures seem to be reused too much, which lowers the details. The backgrounds are very cool and nice to look at., especially the thousands of streetlights in the town at night.

framerate & stability
Very fluent graphics.
drawing distance, pop-up
Absolutely amazing: the drawing distance is incredible, you won't see any pop-up like in Daytona.
graphical detail, realism
Some textures repeat too much. It's not that realistic as NFS, but also not so unrealistic colored like Daytona.
drawing errors,
polygon clipping
Haven't seen any.
light effects
Lightning is applied to the track so that in the distance it gets dark at night and bright at day.
weather, night & day
No weather, but strong sunlight and nightly darkness both effect the tracks appearance.
further special effects Nice depth cueing as mentioned above.

Sound: 5.5 of 10

Once you get past the horrible title track, sound is getting a little better. Some may find the tracks played while racing good, but I say: at least they don't disturb you and if they do, BGM volume can be adjusted when pausing.
I also miss more voice samples and better sound FX for collisions.

sound FX
Nice sound effects when driving through tunnels and over some types of bumpy road.
The engine sound is OK and varies with selected car tunings.
But the rest of the FX could be better.
voice samples
Only few like Go!, Goal!, Yahho!
background music
Not that good, the guitar tracks in game are much better as the title track which is really shit.

Tracks: 7.5 of 10

Nowadays, I simply can not understand why the developers that days  released games with only 3 tracks. But the tight tracks with the big mountains are really unique under all Saturn racing games.
The look is not that different like in Daytona or SEGA Rally, since the tracks location seem to be all same, but the layout instead is.

number of tracks 3 + 3 (right + left)
licensed tracks
track types
round courses, it can be selected whether to drive them left or right
track design Well thought. The courses are tight and winding, almost no flat road, but steep slopes up and down the hills.


Cars: 5.5 of 10

The cars do almost look identical, you should have a closer look to see differences in the spoilers and lamps. Custom colors and lot's of tuning options can be applied to the cars. The latter is only possible in time attack mode.
Driving specs are more different from car to car. I suggest starting with the Type F car or the bonus Porsche. Choosing the wrong car might be annoying when trying to get used to the game.

number of cars 6+2
licensed cars The cars are called Type A through Type H, only one of the bonus cars is a Porsche.
change car color Yes.
tuneable Oh yeah, there are a lot of tuning possibilities.
A couple of tuning selection can be made to the
engine, turbo, muffler, suspension, brake, tire, aeroparts and others. It's really much stuff to try out.
You don't need any money or something to get this.

Gameplay: 6.5 of 10

You always have no more than only one opponent.
In King mode you are driving against one CPU opponent.
Each track offers about 6 little challenges called Heats for each direction, left and right. The CPU car is getting really difficult to beat in the last Heats.
Very good: restarting a race starts immediately, no new loading screen!
Once you get used to the drifting, driving is easy and much fun!

racing modes
king race, time attack, 2 player
camera viewpoints
only 2: inside car with no interior displayed, or behind the car
speed impression
Oh, it is fast! The design of the track makes it looking fast.
racing simulation physics
The cars suspension when braking, accelerating and colliding is quite realistic. Drifting is okay.
But sometimes when you try to get the drifting car under control, it flips drifting left and right, that's strange.
Also when the CPU car crashes from behind, you are really boosted above the road and end up in the wall.
collision detection
The detection itself is correct, but one of biggest  drawback is the effect colliding with the track border:
Way too much speed is lost, so colliding once will cost a lot of time...and fun.
replay recording
This feature is very well done. Loading from / saving to backup RAM is supported. Playback allows multiple camera views, fast forward/backward as well as pause and slow motion.
(input) devices
Couldn't test arcade racer.
The 3D pad is not supported.
Backup RAM cart not supported.

Presentation: 4.5 of 10

Can't be compared with NFS or other EA titles like Nascar 98 or Andretti racing. One intro video and some 3D car animation in selection screen, but that's all.

Special features:

- wide screen mode
- vertical or horizontal split screen

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Copyright (c)2005 by The Rockin'-B