TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Highway 2000’ drove Sega Saturn to its limits and crashed
Within a gaming genre, sometimes pushing the envelope has to happen in order to compete against the heavy hitters and, with that, the hardware’s limits are also pushed to the max. This can result in some great progress and success, but it can also show a developer’s inability to hang with the big boys.
Today, we finish up our tour of the Sega Saturn with “Highway 2000,” a game that, for better or worse, definitely showed the Saturn’s strength, but also its flaws. It’s time to ride back to 1995 as this racing game does battle with the likes of “Daytona USA” and “Ridge Racer!”
“Highway 2000” (Sega Saturn)
In one of those situations where the pieces are greater than the complete game, “Highway 2000” has an awesome and eclectic soundtrack that feels as if it was pulled out of a late ‘80s or early ‘90s action flick, and it just works. I highly recommend the eighth track known as “Drift Dancing” because if that doesn’t make you think of a nightclub during that aforementioned time period, nothing will.
While there are minimal sound effects, it is the soundtrack that stands out and keeps you driving. In the same way “Outrun” had a stellar soundtrack and then “Daytona USA” topped that, “Highway 2000” is a nice mesh of both. Man, these tunes make me miss my CD Walkman!
While it tries so hard, this is where you begin to realize that the “Ridge Racer” games as well as “Daytona USA” were flying past “Highway 2000” in many ways. I wouldn’t say “Highway 2000” has terrible graphics, minus the pixelated soupy look of the atrocious split screen two player mode, but it is so plain in comparison to the franchises ruling the race tracks at this point.
The scenery is a mixed bag of cool coastal highways and blocky city skylines, and while the full motion video scenes of actual cars driving on highways was well done for 1995, it doesn’t change the fact that when you are actually playing the game, your senses are underwhelmed, to say the least.
It seemed that many racing games in the ‘90s, from the arcades to home consoles, got the aspect of speed down just fine, but turning and braking were never universally a success, so “Highway 2000” is marred by some poor handling and braking that has you fishtailing when you should be having fun. Even trying to pass traffic has you bumping a car and pushing it ahead of you!
While many racers suffered from this, this game has to be towards the top of the list of some of the worst with this issue, a key part in enjoying a racing game.
It is truly a shame that “Highway 2000” is overall a subpar racer in a class crowded with them. In 1995, risks were taken and hardware was pushed to the limits with FMV driving scenes to help set this game apart from the pack, and while this and a stellar soundtrack gave “Highway 2000” a fighting chance, ultimately poor graphics and shoddy controls stall it before the finish line.
Until then, like they sing in “Drift Dancing,” keep on dancing, and keep on playing, won’t you? Game on!