Remembering classic games: Motor Toon Grand Prix 2 (1996)
Believe it or not, this colourful racer came from the mind that brought you Gran Turismo...
Legendary Japanese game designer Kazunori Yamauchi is so synonymous with the painstakingly authentic Gran Turismo series, it's difficult to imagine that there was a time when he wasn't fettling increasingly micron-perfect recreations of every variant of the R32 Skyline. Bizarrely enough though, before the very first GT game landed on PlayStation in 1997, Yamauchi's previous effort was Motor Toon Grand Prix 2, a luridly coloured cartoon racer. It's a bit like discovering that the Dutch Master Rembrandt began his artistic journey with crudely drawn willies in a biology textbook.
Believe it or not Motor Toon Grand Prix 2 does display some of that Yamauchi magic, though. For a game that has no business adhering to the laws of physics, the handling is surprisingly involving, with the cars leaning and deforming as they pitch into corners. It'd be a stretch to say that there's a strand of identifiable Gran Turismo DNA in there, but there's certainly a little more depth than your average kart racer. Of course all that nuance becomes absolutely meaningless when you're unceremoniously clattered from behind by a fireball.
As you'd expect, there's the usual bizarre array of playable characters. Particular highlights include a team of Mafiosi penguins, a pair of extraterrestrial velociraptors called Raptor and Raptor, which must get confusing when the post arrives, and our personal favourite, an imposing clockwork robot called Bolbox. No laughing at the back, there.
So why isn't the game better known and more beloved? It's probably the complete absence of a split screen multiplayer mode, a cardinal sin for a cartoon racer. If you wanted to play multiplayer Motor Toon GP 2, you had to have access to two televisions, two consoles, two copies of the game and a PlayStation link cable to connect them all together. Pardon our language, but that's absolute Bolbox....
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