Import Tuner Challenge (ITC) is the last main installment in the Shutokō Battle series. It is developed by Genki (this would be the last game developed by Genki) and published by Ubisoft. The game was released in July 27th, 2006 for the Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console, and the only game in the series to be released on an Xbox console.
The storyline continues some time after the events of Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3, after the 13 Devils were defeated once again by the protagonist. Motoya Iwasaki, better known as Jintei (TXR3) or Speed King (TXR Zero) disappears and other racers come to compete for his "Speed King" title. However, he does appear after the protagonist buys their first car, and reappears as "King Speed" (not an inversion typo) along with some of the former 13 Devils and The Zodiac, once the Phantom 9 led by Snake Eyes are defeated.
During the game, Iwasaki will occasionally question the player as to why he or she: takes part in street racing, wants to meet "Speed King", and be the fastest in the Metro. It's eventually revealed by Blood Hound late in the game that Iwasaki's girlfriend passed away in a hospital at a time when all he (Iwasaki) seemed to care about was street racing. It's implied that Iwasaki then became disillusioned with street racing, seeing it as nothing more than people searching for moments of glory in an isolated community.
On the other end, Snake Eyes came back to Tokyo after 5 years of racing in America as a sort of training for a rematch, post-loss against Speed King. Shocked by Speed King's apparent disappearance, he claims that he readied the protagonist using his team members so he or she would pose as a credible threat/worthy rival on the level of Speed King, to justify his efforts during those years. He is unknowingly followed by Skull Bullet, a U.S. racer wanting a rematch after Snake Eyes left for Tokyo.
Watching the protagonist's victory against Snake Eyes, Iwasaki then thanks the player for reigniting his "will to race." He can be located and challenged at the Shinjuku PA once all the non-Wanderers are defeated. The game then (technically) concludes after the race, but the traditional ???/Unknown final boss that the series is known for will appear once all remaining rivals (includes Wanderers) are defeated.
The gameplay is similar to previous Tokyo Xtreme Racer titles, with the protagonist given a small amount of currency to buy a car. Once a car is purchased, the protagonist will race Iwasaki in a Skyline 350GT (V35). After defeating him, normal TXR gameplay begins, with the protagonist choosing a starting point and racing rivals, earning money, and unlocking upgrades and additional cars. The protagonist will be assigned a Handle (previously known as B.A.D. Name, basically a nickname), which changes depending on how the protagonist acts in the in-game world. One new feature added is instead of the game clock (real time), the protagonist has the option to choose whether to race at night, midnight, or daybreak. Each time setting has different Teams, Bosses, and Wanderers to battle. Some Teams and Bosses appear at all times of the day.
Another difference between ITC and previous installments of TXR is that parking areas (PA) now have rivals parked in them. Some rivals can be found in the PAs instead of on the road. To challenge a rival at a PA, go to the parking spots and select the rival you want to battle. The battle will take place once the cars have entered the highway. In addition, there are message boards in the PAs, consisting of both rivals and random bystanders. Some of the Wanderer requirements can be found here, so be sure to read all of the messages before leaving the PA (once the Wanderer's requirements are revealed, they can be found in the rival info section in their bios). For the teams which have rivals at both the PA and on the highway, the team leader will be found in the PA and appears when all other members are defeated.
There are many rivals, both new ones as well as returning ones, in ITC. The rival breakdown consists of the following:
- "Traditional" reoccuring teams in the TXR series include Rolling Guy, SS Limited, Twister, Max Racing, Cupid Arrows, Tokio Jungle, and Knife and Forks, to name a few;
- "Returning" teams include NO LOSER from TXR3 (moved from Osaka);
- New teams include Phase X, Strong Formation, Moon Tribe, Blood Tears, Freedom Light, Rolling Gals, Aquarium, and Family Business, to name a few;
- "Traditional" Bosses such as Bloodhound, Melancholy Angel (formerly Dejected Angel), Midnight Cinderella (previously a Wanderer), Crimson Devil (formerly The Red Devil), and King Speed;
- "Returning" bosses include The Rook, The Bishop, and The Knight from TXR3 (all three moved from Nagoya);
- New Bosses, which include the members of the Phantom9;
- "Traditional" reoccuring Wanderers include Master Position, Rolling Master, Yellow Desperado, Gold License, Mosquito Lemon, Caffeine X3, Bloody Mary, and SPEED BOX, to name a few;
- "Returning" Wanderers from TXR:Zero include: Tomorrow Again, Last Flight, Garage Haruo, Craftsman Manabe, Jump Start Maki, Free Tree, and Unbalanced Ishii;
- New Wanderers include Matashichi the First and Matashichi the Second.
- "Traditional" rivals are ones that are in every TXR game or nearly all TXR games (excluding TXR:Drift spinoffs)
- "Returning" rivals are ones that were in one or two previous TXR games but not the entire series
As an aside, the game's difficulty is noticeably easier than previous titles, presumably because Genki traditionally doesn't appear (verdict still out) to use simplified physics/catch-up features in its AI. As a consequence, however, the AI takes corners much slower than needed, where as in past games "wall-riding" to maintain speed was a viable strategy (especially in TXR3).
Location & CarsEdit
The game takes place in Tokyo only, as Nagoya, Osaka, and Yokohama are no longer playable locations. The road routes are similar to previous TXR installments, but the drivable stretch of the Wangan B is reduced to the Shinkanjo section only and the Yokohane route (Haneda Rte. 1) is no longer drivable. On the other hand, there are two previously unused new routes added to ITC: Shibuya Rte. 3 and Shinjuku Rte. 4 that end at their respective PAs of the same names.
As for the cars, ITC features licensed cars from Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota, but the American and European manufacturers from TXR3 are no longer present. This may be due to cuts in Genki's development budget, or they may have wanted it released early in the Xbox 360's life-cycle (the PS3 wasn't out by the game release). In addition, there are no Hondas in Import Tuner Challenge, just like in TXR3.
Other Notes Edit
- Import Tuner Challenge is the first game in the TXR series where rivals can be found going in both directions on the C1 and Shinkanjo routes. Previously, certain rivals could only be found going in one direction on those routes, but now you can encounter the same rival on either side of those routes (for example, Rolling Guy members raced only on the C1 Inner Loop, but in ITC they can be found on either the C1 Inner Loop or the C1 Outer Loop).
- In the Japanese version, the license plate creator is similar to TXR:Zero and TXR3, but in the North American version, the license plate creator allows the player to select a district, three-digit number at the top, and up to seven characters for the plate number. Due to the numbering format, the hirogana character on the left side of the plate is removed and not selectable. Changes can be made to license plates anytime. There are fewer districts to choose from in ITC; as a result, many Wanderers that previously had license plate requirements (such as having a license plate from a certain district) had their requirements changed in ITC, due to the fact that the districts required to battle those rivals were removed. The only rival with a license plate requirement in ITC is Caffeine X 3, who races anyone with a "3333" license plate. In the Japanese version, that number would read "33-33" on a standard Japanese license plate, but in the North American version, there is no specific requirement regarding where the "3333" is located on the plate as long as the 3's are consecutive.