The King of Route 66 Q&A

We talk to AM2 about its upcoming truck-driving game.

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Sega's upcoming truck-driving game for the PlayStation 2, The King of Route 66, continues the love affair between its development teams and big rigs. The quirky game puts you behind the wheel of a truck and asks you to burn rubber and help make Route 66 safe for everyone by delivering goods and outracing goons. While its premise is certainly loopy, the game features arcade-style gameplay that keeps it accessible. We recently had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Shinichi Yoshino, the director of the game, to find out more about The King of Route 66 and just why Sega developers love big rigs.

GameSpot: Where did the inspiration for the game come from? Is it related to 18 Wheeler?

Shinichi Yoshino: There is so much mythology around the real Route 66 that we thought it was great fodder for a trucking game. That famous stretch of road represents a different time in US history, and we thought it would be a great setting for the game. We believe it brings back memories of a moral time, as studying it reminded us of nearly forgotten values that are still important to many people. That said, we intentionally made this game racy and included a lot of slapstick action, which makes the game much more fun. If the gameplay were too authentic, it would be really square and boring.

You'll make all sorts of new friends in The King of Route 66.
You'll make all sorts of new friends in The King of Route 66.

GS: What can you tell us about the game's premise and story?

SY: There are five modes in The King of Route 66: two main modes (king and queen) and three secondary modes. Of course, players drive along Route 66 throughout all the game stages. In the king mode, gamers play as a righteous trucker whose mission is to bring peace to Route 66. To do so, they'll have to defeat Tornado Co., an evil truck company who rules the highway.

In the queen mode, gamers participate in competitions held in each of the eight states along Route 66, from Illinois to California. There's an attractive queen in each state, and by completing each queen's mission, players will win that queen's heart. They'll also be able to upgrade their trucks by earning money at the competitions.

The secondary modes are rival chase, Route 66 challenge, and versus battle. In rival chase, players will crash and shoot rival truckers off the highway until their life gauge is down to zero. It's a great opportunity to enjoy smashing rival trucks during a race, or compete against an evil duo from Tornado Co. The Route 66 challenge mode is basically a minigame mode with several truck-themed minigames. Versus battle mode is the two-player mode. Players will race against their friends, choosing from a wide variety of trucks to compete in.

If only you were rewarded with destruction bonuses in real life...
If only you were rewarded with destruction bonuses in real life...

GS: Who thought up the eccentric cast of characters in the game?

SY: The characters for this game were created by myself and another game planner. We developed more than 40 characters for this game, and we believe that everyone will like at least one of them. We even added some hidden characters to give players the opportunity to interact with more people as they unlock the secrets of the Route 66.

GS: Why do semitrailers hold such an attraction with Sega developers?

SY: One of a truck's major characteristics is that everything is big, and this is something we fell in love with. The body of the truck, the tires, the fuel tank, and so on--everything is so big that it's really impactful. If you're driving a truck, viewing the world from the raised perspective of a truck cab, you'll feel emotionally big about yourself and won't worry about the small details of everyday life. We believe that many people secretly yearn to become a trucker, free to drive from place to place at will. Furthermore, the truck itself is part of US culture. The train system is not well developed in the US like in Japan, so truck transportation is a necessary means to sustain people's lives. Consequently, I think the truck itself has become an important part of life in the US. Truckers recognize the importance of their existence, and they value the pride and confidence they have in themselves.

In addition to arcade gameplay, you'll get some high drama.
In addition to arcade gameplay, you'll get some high drama.

GS: What games has the development team working on King of Route 66 worked on before?

SY: Some of the staff have worked on driving titles, while others have experience with RPGs. We believe we put together a great team and combined our experiences very well.

GS: Why did you choose the PlayStation 2?

SY: One of the primary goals for this title was to develop a game that could be enjoyed by both hard-core gamers and casual users. We wanted it to be enjoyed by people who rarely play, or aren't very good at, driving games. The PS2 is played by all different types of gamers, and it's even played by people who don't regularly play video games. In order to reach this audience, we decided to bring The King of Route 66 to the PS2 platform.

GS: Was it a challenge to bring a Naomi 2 game to the PlayStation 2 hardware?

SY: First of all, I'd like to stress that this game is much more than a port of the arcade version. There's so much new content in this game that we consider it a new title in a popular franchise. We changed the game rules, developed new stories, added new modes, and so on. Of course, there are some portions of the game that we ported from the arcade version. Because we used almost the full specs from Naomi 2, the port itself was not an easy process. It was especially difficult to duplicate the arcade-quality visuals and performance on the PS2. Eventually, we decided to shift our focus and simply make some elements from scratch for the PS2. As a consequence of working on details such as the color balance and shadow details from scratch, we think the quality in the final product is better than in the arcade version.

The game will feature minigames focused on hitching your truck to its load.
The game will feature minigames focused on hitching your truck to its load.

GS: Did you ever plan to include any online multiplayer modes? Why or why not?

SY: No, we believe that gamers can truly enjoy every mode in this game without any online features.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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