What Made Gran Turismo So Great?

    A real driving achievement.

    Gran Turismo is one of the most legendary racing game franchises out there. Few others have managed to match the legacy of this iconic PlayStation series. However, why are these games held in such high regard? With the recent release of the Gran Turismo movie, it may be a good idea to take a look back and see what made the franchise so special in the first place. 

    The Real Driving Simulator

    Gran Turismo 7 Daytona

    Nowadays, the status of Gran Turismo as an actual driving simulator is a bit contentious. Most sim racing enthusiasts consider the series to be a “simcade” experience. It’s far more realistic than most arcade racers or kart racers, but more accurate vehicle simulation can be found in other games. However, on the original PlayStation, Gran Turismo and its sequel were two of the most realistic racing games you could purchase on that platform. 

    Every aspect of these games was made to immerse the player. Very few PlayStation titles featured 3D visuals that were as stunning as Gran Turismo. Sure, it may not look like much now, but the first two games pushed the console to its absolute limits. In addition, most other racing games at the time were light on content. This series managed to incorporate many real-world vehicles while still maintaining quality 3D models for the time. 

    These games also contain some of the most advanced physics simulations of their era. For all intents and purposes, Gran Turismo was a real driving simulator on the original PlayStation. Players could tune and upgrade specific parts of their vehicle, which would have a noticeable effect on gameplay. There were attempts at realistic simulation prior to this series, but no games on consoles could match the realism and amount of content that Gran Turismo had.

    Why Was Gran Turismo Made?

    Gran Turismo PAL Box Art

    The existence of this legendary game franchise is often credited to an individual named Kazunori Yamauchi. If you’re a racing game fan, you likely already know of his impact, but I will explain. Surprisingly, Sony wasn’t initially sold on the concept of a realistic racing game. So, Yamauchi got his start by directing Motor Toon Grand Prix and its sequel instead. While it may not seem like it, these two games served as the foundation on which Gran Turismo would be built upon. 

    It was always Yamauchi’s dream to create an ambitious realistic racing game. In fact, Yamauchi started working on the first game in 1992, two years before Motor Toon Grand Prix would release. He was very much dedicated to seeing his dream become a reality, as he was essentially living in his office. Eventually, Sony would approve of Yamauchi’s vision for a realistic racing game, and this would finally lead to the first game’s release in 1997. 

    While the first game achieved many of Yamauchi’s goals, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the final result. For example, the PlayStation’s hardware limitations only allowed for a small amount of AI-controlled drivers for every race. However, the game was a surprise hit and would go on to become the best-selling title on the original PlayStation. Obviously, this warranted the production of a sequel. 

    The Legacy of Gran Turismo

    Gran Turismo 7

    It should go without saying that Gran Turismo is one of the most important racing game franchises of all time. It was proof that a racing game could achieve mainstream success and be so much more than a simple arcade experience. These games challenged what a racing game could be and are probably a large part of why the genre was so great during the 2000s

    Very few other racing games would teach players the fundamentals of racing as Gran Turismo did. While the license tests can be annoying on repeat playthroughs, they play an important role in helping new players understand how these games work. These games wanted the player to fall in love with cars just as much as Kazunori Yamauchi did. The games are a huge love letter to cars but are still accessible to newcomers. 

    Gran Turismo is synonymous with the early days of PlayStation. Just like Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, and more, you likely think of this iconic racing series when you think of the original PlayStation. It helped establish the PlayStation brand as the gaming powerhouse it is today. 

    Where the Series Is Today

    Gran Turismo 7

    While the series may not be as popular as it was during the PS2 era, it is still going fairly strong today. There’s a reason why a movie exists now, despite the interesting true story behind it. Gran Turismo is still a beloved racing game series to this day and many people have a strong sense of nostalgia towards it. This even includes some people who rarely play racing games. 

    Gran Turismo 7 may have faced some controversy shortly after its launch last year due to its implementation of microtransactions, but that did not seem to be enough to stop this series in its tracks. It still remains one of the most iconic PlayStation brands after all these years. The world still loves this series and wants it around. 

    Gran Turismo is responsible for a few of my favorite gaming memories. As a kid, Gran Turismo 4 taught me that I needed to brake if I wanted to go fast. The game immersed me like no racing game did before. I’m very glad the series is still around today as gaming would not be the same without it. 

    Itch has a strong passion for PC gaming and retro consoles (especially the Dreamcast). From Melty Blood: Actress Again to Forza Horizon, he will play just about anything that catches his eye. Ever since playing Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit as a young child, he has been in love with the medium of video games and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

    Latest articles

    Latest Articles