Need for Speed: Underground and Midnight Club may have perfected the street-racing genre, but Tokyo Xtreme Racer, which debuted on the Dreamcast was one of the games that started it all. Actually released as a launch title in Japan under the Tokyo Xtreme Racer moniker, the game is known here in the United States as Street Supremacy. No matter what name it's known as, Street Supremacy is a below average game that's barely playable and really shouldn't have been released.
The concept behind Street Supremacy is solid, though it fails in nearly every facet of its execution. You start off as an unnamed, unseen street racer vying for a spot of one of the many racing teams roaming the streets of Tokyo. After joining a group and purchasing a basic car, you'll have to prove yourself to your team by not only winning races against foes, but your teammates as well. To truly become a successful racer you'll have to raise your ranking by beating each of your teammates; eventually taking on the team leader in a battle for control of the group. This all sounds great on paper, but when you're actually doing it, things fail to pieces.
For starters the load times are horrible – they're long and they're frequent. You've got to wait for your car model to load when upgrading, your opponent to show up when scouting, the race to start, menus to load – it just never ends. Another issue is the endless maze of menus you have to navigate to upgrade your car, find an opponent, start a race, and even end your day.
Lousy menus and long load times can be dealt with, but not when combined with gameplay that can only be described as "horrific." The races are very short, and involve you simply getting in front of your opponent for a certain length of time, as dictated by the "stamina" bar that goes across the top of the screen. Like so many of the game's other aspects, this sounds interesting, but in reality, it's not. You'll always start off behind your opponent, since no matter what car they're driving they can out-accelerate yours. After catching up and passing them, which you'll always do if you're close to them in levels, you'll never see them again and when their bar runs out, the race is over.
I've never been a big fan of any race that lasts longer than three and a half minutes, but the races here generally last less than a minute – which is just too short, even for a handheld. Throw in the fact that there are no other racing types, your opponents have no personality and differ in name only, you'll race the same races over and over, the team battle (where your team takes on another for control of turf) is vastly underused, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
The finishing touch on why Street Supremacy is so poor comes courtesy of the absolutely miserable controls. Actually, the controls are dead-on realistic, if you want to know what it's like to drive a car with four flat tires. The steering is so unresponsive that even the most gradual of turns will find your car scraping the barriers, and avoiding traffic must be done as soon as the vehicle appears on the horizon – it takes that long to move just one lane over. God forbid you don't make it out of the way of any obstacle, though, as you'll come to a dead stop with even the slightest contact.
Street Supremacy features a respectable list of licensed vehicles as well as a healthy number of ways to upgrade your car's performance as well as cosmetically. Unfortunately, upgrading your vehicle seems to have little impact on its performance, even if you upgrade something two steps at a time. To say Midnight Club does it better would be a vast understatement.
Lest we for forget, Street Supremacy includes ad-hoc support. It doesn't actually work, and you can't actually complete a race, but you can technically connect to another person, so I guess Konami isn't totally lying when they say there is ad-hoc play.
I'm going to put as much time into talking about the graphics and music as developer, Genki, did making them. The car models are passable, but the courses are dark and barren. The music is non-descript techno that's okay for a few minutes but quickly grows irksome.
If I was sitting in a dentist's office, had ten minutes to kill, and someone handed me Street Supremacy, I'd be happy to play it; that way I could be numb for the pain of getting a cavity filled. If you look closely, and I mean really close; there's a decent foundation for a game here (if you ignore the fact that the series has been around for years), but it's executed so poorly that there's no reason to consider even renting it.