Gran Turismo on two-wheels! Abandoned PlayStation game reviewed

Gran Turismo might be the most famous PlayStation game on four wheels, but did you know about its two-wheeled spin-off, Tourist Trophy?


As gaming franchises go, Gran Turismo is up there with Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and DiRT. Since its release in 1997, then on the fledgling but highly successful first PlayStation console, it has garnered eight different versions, and been released on six different iterations of the PlayStation platform.

Because of this, you’d assume that should the makers of Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital, have created a spin-off game dedicated to bikes, every biker and their dog would be able to remember it - although that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The game in question is called Tourist Trophy, and no, before you ask this does not involve barreling down Bray Hill at 190mph, although there are some ‘road’ courses for you to play/crash on. Many of these tracks are borrowed from the sister title, including original classics like Apricot Hill and Trial Mountain, while bikers can also enjoy the Circuit de Valencia and an amended version of the Fuji Speedway. 


Tracks aside, there are a lot of reminders that this game was created by the same team that made Gran Turismo. The graphics are the first tell-tale sign, as the imagery from the game has that unique and slightly hazy, soft-focus look to them. Above that are the handling dynamics which the bikes feature, and while they did incorporate some motorcycle dynamics into the game engine, such as the ability to tuck in, pull wheelies and crash the bikes, it’s all still very unmistakably a Polyphony title. Even the title screen and menus are all just adapted versions from the four-wheeled game.

The game itself was great, and at a time when bike racing games of the era were fairly clunky, unrealistic and quite glitchy, Tourist Trophy offered a level of realism that was way ahead of its time.

So, it had realistic graphics, lifelike vehicle dynamics, easy-to-navigate menus and a host of top-class circuits to explore, and naturally, it was a huge success. 

Well no, not really. In fact, not even close. Reviews of the game at launch were lukewarm at best, and despite bagging the IGN Best Racing Sim gong in 2006, Tourist Trophy remains the sole title in the series and Polyphony ditched the idea and just stuck to four-wheeled games after its 2006 release. 

Now the gaming landscape is littered with top-class bike racing games like Ride and the official TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge series. It really does feel like Tourist Trophy was so far ahead of its time nobody was quite ready for it.