Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Shinseiki GPX Cyber Formula VS (PSP)

 You might not have heard of Shinseiki GPX Cyber Formula, but it's a series that's interested me for a while. Originally an anime that aired on Japanese TV in 1991, obviously trying to cash in on the popularity of Formula 1 racing in Japan at that time. It's not a massive franchise, but it does seem to have been a bit of a cult hit, spawning several straight-to-video sequels over the course of the 1990s, and a seemingly endless stretch of videogame adapatations, with the most recent being released in 2018. Despite all this, and even despite the existence of an English dub that aired in parts of Southeast Asia, almost nothing of it has ever reached North America or the UK, with the one exception being the SNES game, released in the US as "Cyber Spin".


This entry was released in Japan only in 2008, and it's pretty good! When it comes to racing games, I'm usually more interested in the glamourous likes of the Ridge Racer series than the grey world of Gran Turismo or F1, but having seen a few episodes of the source material, I decided to give it a chance. It mostly plays like an arcade-style racer, rather than a psuedo-realistic simulation, which is definitely fine by me. There's plenty of different things to hold your attention, too.


There's three main modes of play, ofr a start: Survival, which has a very arcade-like structure, and sees you competing in races until you fail to finish one in first place. Unfortunately, I've only managed to get a few races deep into this, so I can't tell you if it's endless or if it has an ending. The fact that the tracks are always presented in the same order suggests to me that there's an end to it, though. Conquest is the one of the three I've played the least, and seems to be made up of shorter, harder, one-on-one races. The real meat of the game seems to be in the GPX mode, in which you pick a set of stages, and race through them in sequence, with the usual system of points awarded for higher finishing places, and so on.


What's interesting about GPX mode, is that the higher difficulty courses add more laps to each race. This is interesting because the cars in the game have a boost function, limited by the amount of fuel it uses up. It's essential to winning races, and as the races get longer, it'll run out a lot sooner before the ends of the races. So, as you progress through th ranks, you'll have to get better at both rationing the use of your boost, and in timing your visits to the pit lane to refuel. This probably doesn't sound like much to people who are more used to simulation-style racers, but in most racing games, I pretty much never enter the pit, so it's interesting to see a game that necessitates doing so, without slowing down or over-complicating the action.


There's a couple of other side modes in there, too: a solo drag race time trial mode (called ZERO 4000), and a mode called "Max Speed Attack", which sees you racing round part of a track, attempting to reach as high a speed as possible when you go past two specific points. I've made a few attempts at beating both these modes, all unsuccessful.


Anyway, I'm not even sure if most of my readership is even interested in racing games (which is why I try and keep a bigger gap between each one than I do with other genres), but if you are, this is one that's definitely worth a look. It looks great, it's fun to play, and it's fast. All you want from a racing game really, right?


  1. Oh, Cyber Formula! This is one of those anime IPs that that I've heard about but never looked into. I knew it had some racing/car focus, and it's got some acronym in the title, thus my brain just confuses it with Immortal Grand Prix (IGPX) and EX Driver. And as long as I refuse to actually look into any of those shows or their episodes, I'm sure it will remain that way :P

    I am a fan of obscure arcadey racers or racing-type games though - heck, I just found out about (and starting ebay'ing) Namco's Critical Velocity for the PS2 - so I'm gonna look into this more. I actually don't think I have any racing games on my PSTV, so this is a good excuse to start poking around both the domestic and JP PSN.

  2. Never heard of this. Will check this out!