Virtual Kyoutei — Saturn’s Japanese Water-Racing

Virtual Kyoutei is a water-racing game developed and published by Nihon Bussan. It was released on the Sega Saturn, and it was made to compete with Nintendo’s Wave Race 64 for the N64.

It was released exclusively on the Japanese market and has no English localization. This presents a problem for us here on the Western market, and it is no wonder that when you search for this game online, you will find very little information.

This game tends to be overlooked compared to its Nintendo counterpart, and there is a good reason for that. Basically, it was nothing but a clone of its far-superior counterpart. It had fewer features, less detail, inferior technology, and track design, and it lacked a two-player option.

While Nintendo took the simple concept of jet-ski racing and added its trademark depth to it, Sega and Nihon Bussan simply pumped out a second-rate, underdeveloped, and lazy clone. While Wave Race 64 implemented water physics and changing patterns of waves, tides, and swells, Virtual Kyoutei had nothing of that sort.

VK managed to at least get the sense of speed right, you feel fast when you’re playing. However, the problem is that there is no depth to it (pun intended), you just press the button to accelerate and stop pressing it when you want to turn, that’s it, that’s the whole game. The courses are lazily designed and have no depth (pun intended, yet again) to them. The characters are just simple recolors of each other with no personality whatsoever. Everything in this game feels lazy, stripped down, and rudimentary, with no love or care or even thought put into it.

While Nintendo put thought, and care into their water-racing game, the same cannot be said about Nihon Bussan and Sega. Virtual Kyoutei feels like a simple cash-grab, and it offers nothing compared to its competitors. It is perhaps due to this attitude toward its products that Nintendo won over Sega in the end.

We suggest that you skip this title, and if you’re really feeling the itch for an old-school water-racing game (said no one ever), just do yourself a favor and get Wave Race 64.

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