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CREATION INFORMATION
CREATED JUL.18.2005
UPDATED DEC.16.2008
CREDITS
TEXT WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN
TOP GEAR RALLY 2
DETAILS
FULL TITLE TOP GEAR RALLY
DEVELOPER SAFFIRE
PUBLISHER KEMCO
FLASH CART TYPE NUS-8F16F
GAME STATE NEAR FINAL
GAME TYPE RACING
GAME RELEASED YES

CART FRONT SCAN AVAILABLE
CART BACK SCAN AVAILABLE
OTHER CART SCAN N/A

I've always been a fan of checking out work in progress, not sure why since most crap doesn't work. But anyway, a while back I got the chance of checking out an old Top Gear Rally 2 beta, hosted on an official N64 flash cartridge. I was a fan of the Top Gear series also and even own all 4 N64 games in the series, so why not try to spot some of the differences between the beta and the final product.

And here we go...

The most obvious difference is that the beta says "1999.08.31" in the upper left corner of the screen, which most likely is the day of the build. One could wonder if it was made for the ECTS show, being held in London in the beginning of September. A reason for saying this, eventhough the beta is the NTSC version is, that back of the cart says "Euro11", Kemco Europe cart 11?

The game was developed by Saffire, also known for the awful N64 Princess Xena game, while the first Top Gear Rally was developed by Boss Game Studios and the other two, Top Gear Hyperbike and Top Gear Overdrive, were developed by Snowblind Studios. Saffire and Snowblind Studios are still around, wile Boss Game Studios, an independent sister company of Boss Film Studios, which is known for creating special effects for Die Hard, Ghost, Species, Ghostbusters, Air Force One and more, reached the end of the line in 2002 and released their last N64 game Stunt Racer 3000 (released as Stunt Racer 64) in a hurry and as a rental only.

Anyway...

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

Above we have the beta titlescreen on the left and the final (PAL) version on the right. There's not much different to find here, so let's head off to the options menu.

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

The interesting part here is that it now starts to show that the game isn't final. The A and B buttons at the bottom of the screen aren't 100% visible as some of each button is hidden behind the blue bar. The N64 controller is slightly more rotated in the final and the resolution option is missing in the final aswell.

PROTOTYPE
PROTOTYPE

Why the resolution option was removed it beyond me, but gone it is, but the game looks quite nice in high-res, but notice how the speedometer needle isn't where it's supposed to be, if it's run in normal resolution, it is.

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

Not even the track names are the same. The tutorial track is completely missing and the rest have different names and the tracks are even shorter.

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

Another thing is the menu, it isn't quite the same either. In the final version, support van menu only holds the ability to chance parts (team van) while the beta has a menu called called Van Outfitters, which is inaccessible though. The whole support van sub-menu was removed in the final.

Another thing in the menu is the ARSG Rally School. Here a sub-menu also exist, featuring the Driving School and the Drivers Board. In the final game, the Drivers Board was moved to the main menu and the whole Rally School sub-menu was also lost. The following two pictures displays the two removed sub-menus, next two shows the incomplete and complete Team Van where car parts can be changed. The 5th and 6th picture shows a difference in the Drivers Board.

PROTOTYPE
PROTOTYPE
PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION
PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

A thing missing in the beta is a screen where you get to see earned sponsor banners being painted on the car and seeing the other cars track time, in the beta you only get to see your own.

FINAL VERSION
FINAL VERSION

Other known differences:

- The car doesn't seem to break down as easily as in the final.
- Car parts are pretty cheap!
- Worse driving control
- No mud or stone hits on the car window
- No Race Result screen for all teams
- No Sponsor decals
- Slightly shorter tracks
- Incomplete on-screen race info
- Cars slide less than the final.
- Menu info button is missing in the prototype
- Final seems to be a bit brighter

But why not, while we're at it, show off a few more differences before we call it a wrap. Thanks for reading :-)

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION
PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION
PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

IGN made an interview with the people at Saffire about Top Gear Rally 2, you can read it here.

Wait! Wait!... I'm not completely done yet. I just noticed that the beta doesn't check if a joypad is present, it just checks for a controller pak. If the beta is started without a joypad and if you insert it when says no controller pak, it'll detect the pak, but will not initialize the joypad correctly and it won't work. The final version checks if a joypad is present and won't start unless atleast one is.

PROTOTYPE
FINAL VERSION

The US release date for Top Gear Rally 2 was December 3rd, 1999.
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