A Secret Occasion in ‘Sega Touring Automobile Championship’ Captured the Festive Spirit



Sega Touring Car Championship promotional art

Picture: Sega

It’s 1997. Titanic is sweeping theaters all around the globe. Michael Schumacher as soon as once more makes a determined transfer to guard a championship bid, besides this time it doesn’t work. A youngsters’s novel about an 11-year-old wizard releases to widespread vital and business acclaim and it’s unattainable to think about its writer harboring deeply hateful views. On Christmas Day of that eventful yr, you possibly can additionally fireplace up your Sega Saturn for a fast hit of touring automobile racing, solely to find one thing totally different — particular.

Night time has fallen over Growth City Circuit, and the moon hangs excessive over the clouds. The primary nook now runs proper, not left. The infield and the tops of all of the buildings are blanketed in white. Deeper into the lap, you whizz by empty grandstands and majestic pine timber strewn in lights. Christmas has come to the fictional observe, for one fleeting day — a day wherein everybody the world over can compete for bragging rights.

This was one in every of three “International Internet Occasions” scheduled for Sega Touring Automobile Championship in 1997, a racing recreation launched for the Saturn earlier that yr. On sure dates in 1997 and 1998 — in case your system’s clock was set correctly, anyway — you’d occur upon particular, limited-time races set in uncommon circumstances. Finishing them generated a code, which may very well be enter on Sega’s web site or despatched throughout the recreation on to Sega, if you happen to had been one of many fortunate few Saturn homeowners with a NetLink dial-up modem that related your console to the online. Submitting the code logged your time on a world leaderboard.

The Christmas occasion was a easy race round a wintry observe, the place gamers would compete for one of the best time. The following one, set for February 14, 1998 — Valentine’s Day — was unusually titled “Hit & Run” and tasked drivers with knocking over as many cones as attainable, whereas additionally vying for quickest lap. The ultimate International Internet Occasion on April Fools’ Day that very same yr marked one more time trial — solely this time, run in the wrong way to the remainder of the race site visitors.

In the present day, builders can after all get far more artistic in the case of injecting slightly festive spirit into their video games. The final week of yearly, for instance, Rockstar turns the whole lot of Grand Theft Auto’s open world right into a veritable local weather disaster. In comparison with that, the thought of internet hosting just a few scattered races themed round holidays is fairly quaint. In 1997, although? It will need to have been a neat shock.

What makes these International Internet Occasions much more pleasant is how they labored. Once more, it was all managed by the Saturn’s inner clock — that means you could, to this present day, set the console’s date and time to Christmas ’97 and participate in a race across the mirrored, snowy model of Growth City Circuit. That’s how I skilled it, most likely someday in 2009 as a result of I’d have been means too younger to determine any of this out in 1997.

Technically, none of STCC’s festive content material counts as “vacation DLC” then. Nothing’s actually being downloaded, in spite of everything, and also you didn’t even must hook your Saturn as much as the web to submit your instances on Sega’s leaderboard. However after I consider gaming on a vacation, I consider Sega Touring Automobile Championship. This recreation additionally involves thoughts after I consider epic ’90s Eurobeat. It’s not an amazing racer — Sega Rally and Daytona USA are a lot better — however what different racing recreation affords you the possibility to float a W202 Mercedes C-Class DTM to licensed home bangers?

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