Import Tuner Challenge is the latest installment in a long running series of street racing games known as the Shutokou Battle series in Japan. The series focuses on the illegal highway racing of the Shuto expressway in Tokyo and this iteration makes the series' debut on next-gen consoles. The player starts the game as a nobody in the street-racing world, and given a small amount of credits with which to start your adventure in the street racing world. The player's main objective is to make a name for themselves in the highways of Tokyo and there are hundreds of opponents to conquer on the Shuto expressway. The game progresses by gradually unlocking more sections of the Tokyo-bay highway network and granting the player access to more cars and more upgrades. This gradual drip-feed of speed is perhaps the source of the games strange addictiveness. While playing, there is always the compulsion to get to "just one more" boss in order to unlock some new parts.
Single Player Campaign
The single player campaign does without the usual menu-based progression, and instead the player must roam streets of Wangan looking for opponents. Opponents are usually easily spotted weaving between the lanes of civilian traffic. Once an opponent is located, a race is initiated by the player flashing their high beams at the car in front. The cars then lineup side by side, a countdown begins and the race commences from a rolling start. As well as being no traditional start line, there is also no traditional finish. Instead, all cars start the race with a life bar that gradually depletes when your opponent is ahead, with life draining quicker the further behind the player falls. The game inherits many quirky Japanese RPG like elements, including boss battles, random ambushes by multiple opponent's cars from the same "team", and grinding previously-defeated opponents for money.
The game features a multiplayer mode that feels like it has been tacked on at the end.
The box boasts the usual crazy multiplication of "Over five million combinations" including licensed parts from Veilside, C-West, Recaro and Bride. Parts can also be tinkered for settings such as down force, damper stiffness, etc. with the intention being to optimize the car for different situations, but most of the highway is the same, thus negating any real need to change the car's setup once the optimal settings have been found.
The story behind Import Tuner Challenge is that you are a new driver on the Wangan, Tokyo. There is a legendary racer called King Speed who ran the elite racing team, known as the 13 Knights. The team consisted of 13 of the best racers in Wangan. However, King Speed mysteriously disappeared from the Wangan. Two years later, everyone wants to know what happened him. Every boss knows a bit more about what happened, but they won't tell you until they have been defeated. Therefore the player has to beat all of the bosses to discover what really happened to King Speed and the 13 Knights.
The BAD Names are titles that give a snapshot view of how the other AI racers perceive you. There may be negative ones or positive ones. There are also names that can only be attained from doing certain tasks. For example, you can get a unique name for winning 50 races in a row, but if you lose a race at anytime, you also lose that name. Examples of B.A.D names :
- Flame General
- Gust Sergeant
The game features a completely Japanese-made car line up, consisting of the following:
- Mazda RX-7 Type RS / FD3S
- Mazda RX-8 Type S / SE3P
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX GSR / CT9A
- Nissan 180SX Type- X / RPS13
- Nissan Cima 450VIP / GNF50
- Nissan Fairlady 350Z Version ST / Z33
- Nissan Fairlady 300Z Version R Twin-Turbo 2by2 T-Bar Roof / GCZ32
- Nissan Silvia Spec-R / S15
- Nissan Skyline Coupe 350GT Premium / CPV35
- Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec / BNR34
- Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec / BNR32
- Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C / GDB
- Subaru Impreza WRX Type R STI Version / GC8
- Toyota Aristo V300 / JZS161
- Toyota Celsior C-Spec F Package / UCF31
- Toyota Crown Athlete G Package / GRS184
- Toyota Supra RZ / JZA80
- Toyota Supra 2.5GT Twin Turbo R / JZA70