Remembering classic games: GTI Club (1996) | Top Gear
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Remembering classic games: GTI Club (1996)

Retro hot hatches and chaos aplenty in this arcade classic. Featured a guest appearance from Bugatti's EB 110, too

Published: 02 Sep 2022

F1’s got the wrong idea. Rather than closing off the streets of Monaco for your race, why not leave the place rammed with traffic and littered with street furniture for a bit of additional challenge? That was arcade game GTI Club: Rally Côte d’Azur’s approach, allowing you to hare recklessly around an approximation of the principality during a normal afternoon. Something you’d never be able to do in real life without accidentally running over several automotive vloggers.

For the most part, the cars on offer were slightly less glamorous than your usual Monte Carlo fare, mind you. Befitting of its name, GTI Club focused on hot hatches that were retro even for 1996, so you’d be hustling Renault 5 Alpine V6 Turbos, Mini Coopers and, of course, the MkI VW Golf GTI. That made the game feel unique among arcade racers and never more so than when you were yanking on the physical handbrake attached to the cabinet to fling your hatchback around a tricky hairpin.

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Because the game’s circuits were routes through a single, open map they were positively riddled with shortcuts allowing you to gain an advantage by diving into an underground car park or clattering through an outdoor restaurant, scattering folding chairs and diners alike. This layout really came into its own in Bomb Tag, a multiplayer game of automotive hot potato that turned the entire game world into an Italian Job-esque car chase playground.

Best of all, if you hadn’t blown all your pocket money on pick ’n’ mix, you could pump an extra pound coin into the machine to unlock the significantly more powerful Bugatti EB 110 and use it to thump all the 100bhp runabouts. That has to mark the one time in recorded history that an EB 110 has ever cost only twice as much as a Golf GTI.

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