Here's the scene - you're cruising the countryside in your brand-new Renault ragtop, fighting for first place against a slew of other roadster-like racers in some odd underground roadster-racing scene. Sound a little too surreal? Not only is the premise of Roadsters Trophy a little odd, but the poor racing engine and incredibly unrealistic physics are sure to make the gameplay feel a little odd as well.
As you might have guessed from the name the only cars available for you to race are roadsters. You get to pick a vehicle from a diverse section of hopped-up, road-eating, roofless automobiles, and race it out on the open road. Roadsters tries very much to be an arcade-style racing game in the same vein as Cruis'n USA or Speed Devils, even down to the generic track design. However, extremely unrealistic physics and a poor racing engine keep Roadsters from being an arcade racer of any merit, and the off-base premise of racing exclusively with roadsters doesn't help much either. Roadsters Trophy has a slew of different open-aired cars, some of which bear actual licenses, while others bear a striking resemblance to real-life automobile, but the names of the unlicensed cars have been changed. If you're playing the game in the tournament mode, you'll actually have to buy your car - but that means it's yours to keep and modify as you see fit. Roadsters features a very simplistic modification system - you can usually only upgrade your engine once or twice, add a turbo or an exhaust, and play around with your suspension and gear settings. If you want endless tweaking possibilities you will have to look elsewhere. Once you're satisfied with the condition of your car you can get down to the actual racing. This is where the game takes a turn for the worse.
There are three racing classes in Roadsters Trophy. C class is the easiest and has the most unrealistic physics model; A class is the most difficult and has the most unforgiving physics; and B class falls - you guessed it - somewhere between the two. Still, none of the racing modes is particularly realistic. Since you're required to complete the different classes in order, you'll find that just when you've become comfortable with the game's unpredictable physics, they'll switch on you. It'll take most racers a while to get used to a C class car's unnatural cornering ability - you'll find that brakes aren't necessary on any of the tracks. Then after a seemingly endless barrage of racing, the B class rips the rug out from under you and forces you to adapt to yet another unrealistic physics setting. And there's still one more class after that.All of the generic track elements found in just about every other arcade racing game are here. You've got the super-secret track that runs through a military base, the snowy track that winds its way through a mountain town, and the desert track that eventually runs through an Aztec temple. Fortunately, there are enough tracks to keep things at least mildly interesting. You'll have plenty of time to learn all the tracks as you're usually forced to run five laps around each circuit. This makes the game seem unnecessarily long, and if you're in the lead, things get boring very quickly. On top of that, each tournament consists of six different tracks, most of which are repeated in following tournaments. All of this boring racing makes progressing through the game a tiring process.
The graphics are the one standout feature of Roadsters. From the car models to the reflection of your taillights on the rain-slick streets, the attention to detail is extremely nice. Other cool effects, such as realistic fire and ambient lighting really enhance the whole visual package. You'll be able to see your driver inside your roadster as he pulls corners and waves his fist at other racers, and the replay mode makes everything look all the better. Pop-up and fog aren't major issues, and the backgrounds, while not completely creative, are at least nice to look at.
An assortment of generic techno music pulses through the game, from the in-game menus to the actual racing. While not particularly outstanding, it's not offensive in the least, and it does a good job of supporting the racing. Sound effects like engine whine and skidding tires sound nice, but the taunts and comments from your driver become repetitive and annoying rather quickly. Unfortunately, there appears to be no way to disable this, and you'll find yourself picking the driver who says the least.
If you've got a friend interested in sharing the roadster experience, you can play multiplayer. But there aren't really any options - you simple choose a track and race it out. Instead of just racing it out against each other, you'll actually face a whole grid of racers. Unfortunately, because the frame rate suffers in the multiplayer mode the racing becomes extremely choppy.
If you're itching to feel the breeze in your hair as you jam through a country track in your drop-top roadster, you may want to give this one a rental. But totally unrealistic physics, generic track design, and a vehicle list devoid of anything but generic topless roadsters make this a game to be avoided by the casual arcade-racing fan.