Video game publisher Genki recently tweeted an picture of a Nissan GT-R idling at a Tokyo expressway pull-off zone at night, ready for action. For JNCers of a certain age, then image should instantly evoke the thrill of Tokyo Xtreme Racer, perhaps the only game in the world that had a button reserved exclusively for flashing your headlights at other drivers. It looks like late-night Shuto battles are back.
The days of Playstation 2 — and before that, Sega Dreamcast — coincided perfectly with the height of the tuner era. Unofficially inspired by Wangan Midnight and the illicit hashiriya races that took place late at night, advancing in Shutoku Battle (if you go by its Japanese name) meant taking down other teams one by one until you were king of the streets.
All the action took place on highly realistic depictions of the Shuto, Tokyo’s metropolitan expressway system. Gameplay consisted of driving around a sea of Hiaces and Crown taxis until you came upon a fellow speed demon. Then you’d flash your headlights, and it was on. Once you beat enough minions, the team leader would then come and flash their headlights at you.
Eventually the game branched into the highways of other cities beyond the capital, and then to touge stages as drifting became mainstream. The last title in the series was published in 2011. Fast forward to 2017 and Genki seems to be reviving the series, but for smartphones.
Titled Shutoku Battle Xtreme, there is currently an early registration campaign for Japanese Android and iPhone owners. Those who register receive a bonus car, depending on how early. So far, cars include the new Suzuki Alto Works, Honda S660, and R35 GT-R. A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X is also depicted in another illustration. It’s not clear when the release date is, or if it will be available outside of Japan. We can only hope.
Images: Shutoku Battle Xtreme.