How can you not love a tagline like that? It's brilliantly Japanese and makes absolutely no sense at all. Not to mention the title of the game, Driving Emotion Type S, which makes you wonder if you are going to be sat crying at the wheel of your Honda, dreaming of the Type R you couldn't afford.
Anyway, Driving Emotion (Type S) was a PS2 launch title back in 2000 in Japan and it was pretty much panned across the board. Featuring some jagged looking visuals and some lovely 70's porn filters stuck over the top of them, it was hardly the most impressive launch title ever. Not to mention the odd handling model which meant the wheels of the car didn't auto centre like every single driving game ever.
Several years later on a massive tidy up of my house, I found the game lurking and tried to give it another go. By this time I had a driving licence and my very own Toyota MR2. It wasn't until then that I realised the quality of this game that no other racers of the generation, or indeed until games like Forza 3 and Shift had, a truly wonderful in car view.
In car excellence.
I did some research and found out that the PAL and US versions of the game boasted an extra track and improved handling. Squaresoft had listened to feedback and made the handling auto centre for the western versions of the game. Being a fan already, I had to import the US version at a cost that quite a few would have considered nuts. Not mega, but certainly a fair bit.
Once the game arrived I sunk a load of time into it and it really plays so well. The handling is very tricky still but if you use the in car view, the only way to play it, then it is excellent.
Where it excels is with the feeling of throwing a car around a track. You can feel the weight of the car shift wonderfully well in the in car view and really judge when the back end will give way. The camera also bounces around suitably when the gradient of the road changes which is superb. Also when under heavy braking, the camera moves forward to give the illusion of head movement.
Another fantastic touch is with the windscreen. You can see gentle reflections of the scenery in the windows at times and the sunlight will often reflect off it giving an impression of a real windscreen. This is something I have never seen done as well since and really adds to the feel of driving a sports car.
This view takes all of the fun away!
The main issue with the handling even on the western models is that it tries to mimic a real car with a controller. When driving a car around a corner, if you over steer you gently straighten the wheel to change the arc of the turn. Only in extreme situations such as a slide to you actually apply opposite lock.
In most racing games, if you over steer you can push the controller stick completely in the opposite direction with little penalty. If you did this in real life it would be disastrous.
Driving Emotion tries a little to hard to mimic real life. If you are oversteering a bit, you simply need to centre the stick to correct it, only occasionally should you apply opposite lock. This leads to people snaking it around corners because it is such an unusual system.
Once you nail it though, it works pretty well, not perfect but certainly not that difficult.
Not a Type S.
Overall then, I think Driving Emotion is a really good racer. It is pretty bare in content but the feel of the cars when using the in car view was unrivalled until the HD consoles arrived. In fact, it still matches games like Shift and Forza for that superb feel, although they are much better games.
Anyone that finds that sort of thing appealing, if there is anyone, should really check it out.