Do you ever get the feeling of instant nostalgia? You hear a certain song or visit a certain place, and all these fond memories flood your brain. Well how about nostalgia for a video game?
Cast your minds back to 1997, and now renowned video game creators Codemasters release ToCA Touring Car Championship, a game based on the official 1997 season of the British Touring Car Championship. I get instant nostalgia whenever I play this game, the sound of the Super Touring era engines, the somewhat reassuring voice of Tiff Needell, and pure high octane racing.
The question being posed here is; would a reboot of this once iconic franchise bear any fruit?
The original game sold 600,000 copies in the UK and Europe, and helped propel Codemasters to huge success, with a huge stable of critically acclaimed racing games in its catalogue. These include the Colin McRae/DiRT series, the ToCA series, and of course the Formula One games.
The ToCA series was great, the first two games focused completely on the BTCC, offering you arcade modes, hilarious cheat modes, and an enthralling championship mode. While later additions to the series would expand and offer players the chance to test various racing series’.
The pitfalls of the first ToCA games were of course the limitations of software at the time. The PlayStation, god bless it, was revolutionary in the 90’s, but the graphics look a tad dated 20 years later. However with the new generation of gaming allowing for 4K resolution graphics, there’s so much scope for a hugely immersive BTCC themed game.
There are many junior categories under the ToCA name, such as British F4 and the Ginetta Junior Championship. Imagine a career mode where you start at the bottom, in F4, fighting for the championship while being in the same paddock as the likes of Matt Neal, Jason Plato and Colin Turkington?
Having to work up through the junior categories, impressing the big teams and working your way to the BTCC? The Formula One games are proof that Codemasters can do an immersive and rewarding career mode. Should they be able to obtain the licence to the ToCA series again, it could prove to be a hugely successful game.
That all sounds great right? But the counter argument of this is; is there any need or demand for it?
People who have fond memories of the original ToCA games are crying out for a revival of the beloved series, myself included. But with PC games such as iRacing and rFactor facilitating ‘mods’ to create any racing series they want to, does it render the need for a standalone BTCC game pointless?
There are various ‘modifications’ to these games available, even one which replicates the 1998 season perfectly, with faithfully restored cars and updated graphics. Check out this video of the ‘mod’ in action by ‘sim racing’ YouTuber Jimmy Broadbent.
Another possible issue is the global draw. Codemasters’ Formula One games are so successful because F1 is a globally watched sport, while Touring Cars are watched all over the world, thanks in part to the World Touring Car Championship, it is nowhere near as watched as the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ that is F1.
In spite of these possible drawbacks, the British crowd would lap up a game where they can throw these souped-up road cars round Donington, round Thruxton, round Rockingham with the hope of being BTCC champion.
With the aforementioned career mode, and the ability to play online with friends, two things which the old ToCA games didn’t have, Codemasters could really resurrect the vintage franchise in a brilliant way!