GTi Club+: Konami Interview

Konami reveals all on its Sumo Digital-developed, PS3-exclusive arcade racing conversion.

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GTi Club+ could well be this winter's sleeper sensation. At a glance there isn't a whole lot to crow over, as - wait, we take that back. At a glance this once-coin-operated Konami roadster is the epitome of charm, its ditzy arcade colour palette storming past at a buttery 60 frames per second, but we suspect some gamers will turn their noses up at the twelve-year-old racing principles clattering away under the bonnet.

The game's eight player online modes, PlayStation Eye compatibility and countless customisable widgets are very much of the here-and-now, however, and developer Sumo Digital's success with another Konami revamp, New International Track and Field, bodes well for Cote D'Azur's PSN debut. If nothing else, that €14.99 price tag should be tempting enough.

Kikizo recently pulled up alongside Phillip Macdonald, Game Producer with Konami, to dissect Cote D'Azur's weighty feature set, and ask why PSN is a better home for the game than Xbox Live.



Kikizo: There was a lot of demand for a console version when GTi Club first appeared. Why did Konami keep people waiting?

Macdonald: When the original arcade machine came out it was huge for Konami, it was a big success, and a lot of people were asking for a home console version. But back on PlayStation 1, I think there was a problem with the controls - you couldn't do justice to the handbrake. But here we are with PS3. We just think it's a really good time to bring it to PlayStation Network, and update it as much as we can.

Kikizo: What are the key points of note here? How have you brought the game up to speed with 2008?

Macdonald: It features eight player online, and it's exclusive to PSN. The initial download you get - you get the full game, you get eight player online and stuff. We're going to look at keeping the franchise going, so the next thing we're going to release is a new car add-on pack. So we've got all the old classic cars, but we can replace those with brand new Mini Coopers, new Volkswagen cars, Polos, new Peugeots, so it's a little car pack. With the car pack there will also be decals, you can customise the cars, put new liveries on them, put your name on the car registration plates and stuff, so when you're playing online it's a unique car. And then further down the road we're looking at new courses and stuff, so just keeping going.

Kikizo: Why is GTi Club+ better suited to PSN?

Macdonald: When we signed the title we were looking at both [high definition] platforms, and we were thinking about Xbox Live, but I think with Xbox Live it may have sent a bit of a confused message that it's... this isn't just one of those retro happy little games that you get on there, this is a whole new remake. And we didn't really want to confuse people with that - we thought PSN was new, let's go down that route.

Kikizo: Can you give us a quick run-down of the multiplayer modes?

Macdonald: For multiplayer modes, you'll have the three main difficulty levels which you can play. You'll also be able to play them in a team mode, so you can have a team of Renault 5 Turbos against Golf GTis. And then we've also got Bomb Tag. With Bomb Tag you get a certain amount of time - somebody starts off with the bomb and then you drive around crashing into each other trying to pass that bomb on.

We really want to get the feel of the original - it always felt like you were racing against someone, there was always an AI car beside you. That's the kind of flavour we want to capture - they're always giving you a hard time, they'll always bash into you. But yeah, the real fun comes online. We were looking to do 16 [players] at first but that first corner - it's just carnage. It would have been nice, but... It's so addictive, it's got that "one more go" feel to it.

And then there's wacky modes like "Pass the Ham" where somebody's got a piece of meat above their car... It's kind of the opposite of Bomb Tag, you've got to chase someone who's got the ham as opposed to run away from them. We've got some wacky voice-overs like "That's a great-looking piece of ham!"

Kikizo: The coin-op arcade remake that's coming out in Japan - is that a separate project?

Macdonald: The idea is that they're doing different courses - I think they've got a London track, and various other ones. So we could share their course data and bring it into this version relatively easily.

Kikizo: As one of your DLC packs, perhaps?

Macdonald: Yeah, that's something we can look at.

Kikizo: So did you and the guys at Sumo Digital find upgrading the graphics, design and so forth fairly straightforward

Macdonald: It was a lot more work than we originally suspected. We did get the usual sort of course data from Japan just to make sure that the course was perfect and felt right, but everything else was done from scratch.

Kikizo: They're the bollocks at this stuff, Sumo, aren't they?

Macdonald: Yeah they're really good at this stuff, it's perfect. The main point for us is that the handling has to feel right. There are differences between all the cars but they're very subtle, so they just kind of balance out. The Renault 5 is really fast but cornering can be a bit iffy sometimes. The Golf's probably the best all-round one.

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