Racing Game History: Sega GT (2000)

Last time on Racing Game History, we recounted the works of famed Sega Developer Yu Suzuki who, among his numerous accomplishments, gave us the F355 Challenge arcade game. We even shared a bit of footage from the home console version of F355 released for the Sega Dreamcast. But the racing section of the Dreamcast library was home to more than just console ports of arcade racers. 

In those halcyon days when Sega arrived first on the scene with their contribution to the 6th console generations, we received Sega GT (2000). In the previous console generation, Sega responded to Namco’s Ridge Racer, which became a killer app on Sony’s PlayStation 1 with Daytona USA in arcades and on the Sega Saturn. Sega GT was intended to compete with Sony’s “real driving simulator” Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2 which became two of the best selling PlayStation games of all time. 

Like the Gran Turismo series, Sega GT tasks players with racing their way through 22 distinct tracks, winning cups, gaining licenses, and using prize money to stuff their in-game garages with graphically impressive depictions of real-world vehicles from the likes of Daihatsu, Ford, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. European players got a few extra makes including Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz. And of course, players could forgo racing to spend their hours toiling away on modding out their vehicles or scrapping the base models altogether and building a custom car using various parts and pieces.  

Graphically, there’s no denying that Sega GT was a step up over the previous-gen games it was meant to compete against. And with the better part of a year lead on the PlayStation 2’s first GT game, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, you’d think Sony would’ve eaten Sega’s dust. And yet, there’s no David Harbour-led cinematic take on Sega GT. Instead, like the console it called home, Sega GT remains a beloved attempt to push against the tide of history as it rose in favor another. 

After the PlayStation 2 firmly established itself as the preeminent hardware of the sixth console generation, Sega GT did manage to hang as Sega got out of the hardware game and focused on publishing games on other machines. Sega GT 2002 released on the Microsoft Xbox followed by an updated version with additional vehicles and the ability to play online called (you guessed it) Sega GT Online.