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Battle Gear 3

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Battle Gear 3 (バトル・ギア3?) is a 2002 arcade online racing game released by Taito and based on real Japanese locations such as Hakone and touge races on board tuned sports cars licensed by famous Japanese makers including Honda, Toyota and Mazda. On December 15, 2003, Taito released an updated System 246 version named Battle Gear 3 Tuned (バトル・ギア3・チューンド?) and featuring seven extra cars including the Mazda RX-8 Type-S (SE3P) and the Nissan 350Z (Z33). Also, four new tracks (the B courses) including a secret one, were added, as well as an exclusive "Takumi Mode" ("匠モード"?). The Takumi Mode gives the player a finishing time/reduced speed penalty each time the car hits a wall. The purpose of this feature is to offer a more realistic and artistic driving experience dixit the developer himself. This principle was used one year later by Polyphony Digital in Gran Turismo 4. By Christmas of the same year, Nextech Entertainment ported Battle Gear 3 to the PlayStation 2 with an opening CG movie, an exclusive "Event Race" online contest mode and some extras from the updated version, consisting of four cars (D-Class) and two courses (B).

The Battle Gear (BG) franchise has a popular following in Asia due to the continuation of the Side by Side (サイド・バイ・サイド?) arcade and PlayStation 1990s series. In late 2002, a PAL version of Battle Gear 2 was licensed by Midas Interactive and published as Tokyo Road Race in Europe and Oceania. Both "Net Ranking" and "Network" modes were removed though. By July 2005, Battle Gear 4 was launched in Japan on Taito's latest 2.5 GHz CPU based Type X+ system board. This new episode introduced official tuned cars such as the Nismo Fairlady S-Tune Z33, Nismo Skyline S-Tune R34 or the Apexi RX-7 FD3S (D1GP'05 version), and even licensed European makers for the very first time.

Arcade versions

The car and track selections were both renewed since Battle Gear 2, a number of cars from this episode were simply removed or replaced by later models (e.g. AE111 Levin BZR, CP9A Lancer evo VI, NA1 NSX S-Zero, GC8 Impreza 22B) and others, like the Celica ZZT231, were actually reintroduced the following year in the Arcade "Tuned" update. Battle Gear 3 Tuned was completed by fifteen new car types, the extra cars from the PlayStation 2 version were included, while the remaining eleven were Arcade exclusives.

Unlike Battle Gear 2 including four secret "Old Courses" (旧コース) from the first Battle Gear episode, the updated 2003 version offers six brand new extra "B Courses" (Bコース) instead. Two of them are taken from the domestic version. Compared to Battle Gear 2, Battle Gear 3 Tuned has twice as many vehicles and tracks.

Domestic versions

Battle Gear 3 2002 version's audiovisual related features have been improved for the PlayStation 2 (and for the Tuned version). The sound of the engine and new songs (according to the extra courses) were added. Natural sounds such as birds and bugs were introduced. In the other hand, the visual design was all renewed.

Two editions were released in Japan, a standard version including the Battle Gear Net Entry Key and a Limited Edition (初回限定版) bundled with a Tomica die-cast Nissan Skyline (R34) tuned by Taito original model. The "Net Entry Key" is a secure device manufactured by Nesys and designed with a personal code required to register the Battle Gear Net arena from the game's custom designed arcade cabinet only delivered in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. The key is used to compete in local game centers’ sponsored championships, to upload Best Time records, to unlock car parts and extra cars, and to save the personal tuning settings and custom plate. Once the key is registered, the gamer gets a unique Net ID and its associated password; Both are required to create a "Network Game Profile" savefile on the PlayStation 2 and access the "Main Race" section and its online exclusive contents such as the "Event Race", "Online Time Attack" and "Online Battle Gear" extra game modes.

Battle Gear

As Battle Gear 3 is an arcade oriented driving game in the old tradition of games likes Daytona USA, Taito developers have focused on graphics and handling. The Battle Gear mode is a multistage checkpoint-based duel versus a CPU (Lv.1~4). The Online Battle Gear allows Asian players to compete with each other in a 1on1 network race.

Battle Gear 3's graphics are realistic 3DCGs packed with high resolution textures and modern visual effects (light sourcing, lens flare, real-time body reflection, water reflection, flying leaves, flying gravel, smoke, rubber track, artistic blur, etc.) rivalling the visuals of higher-production, later racers such as Gran Turismo 4 and Enthusia; the former's video-like "Replay" system being very similar, while the latter's graphics and background animations have been largely inspired by those of Battle Gear 3.

Cars for BG3

Battle Gear 3 uses the Gran Turismo series specific analog steering and Accelerate/Braking system while the Arcade digital button-based system is still available as well. An "Instrument Panel" view comparable to the one also available in Driving Emotion Type-S '00 (imitating the original 1999 Battle Gear) with its per car unique realistic on board design is added to the classic "Road" and "Car" views.

Battle Gear courses are located in Japanese lakeside forests (Hakone) and mountain passes known as touge. Many manga series are based on touge races, the most famous comic outside Japan being Initial D with its modified Toyota Sprinter Trueno challenging more powerful machines on nocturnal challenges. In the game, Initial D vehicles are unlockable as S-Class tuned versions, e.g. Takumi's "Sprinter Trueno Mecha Tuned", Itsuki's "Corolla Levin AE85 SR Turbo Tuned" and Takashi's black "Skyline GT-R R32 Tuned".

Various daytime and season conditions are available for race. Eight different courses are selectable in both normal (順走) and reverse, (逆走) or climbhill/downhill sides from the nocturnal real shutokou inspired urban oval to the lakeside Hakone course, to the traditional touge narrow single track mountain road to the bamboo plantation dirt course.

Game Modes Overview (PS2)

The arcade version's network features, namely a "Ghost Data" managing dedicated server and an online duel mode (known as "Battle Gear"), the two of them being limited to Japan and Hong Kong territories were kept for the home version; allowing an online ghost competition between home and game center players.

The game focuses on realism and requires for actual real-life driving techniques to be incorporated in order to be successful, unlike other games such as Initial D Arcade Stage or Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune where players may not need to use the brakes.

The "Event Race" online mode was specially created for the domestic version. Various exhibition events were scheduled from January up to July 2004. These Event Races named "Class-D~A Cup", "Maker Cup #1~6" or even "Holiday Cup #1~8", were basically daily single race best time (Ghost) contests with the usual restrictions such as course side, and car class or model. Some event races were different like the two 3-round based GT300/500 "Battle Gear Grand Prix" or the seven days "Golden Week Cup" all-class open. Another exception was the "Battle Gear Rally" with its specific six SS courses competition including both tarmac and dirt stages. "Exciting Driver" special awards were given on each race to the most spectacular and skilled gamers and published on the official Net Ranking board.

Battle Gear 2's Ilink multiplayer mode allowing users to connect two PlayStation 2 and play as a local network was replaced by a split-screen 2-player mode. The "Normal Race" mode offers single race versus five CPU controlled similar class cars with a five-level adjustable difficulty from "Very Easy" to "Very Hard". "One Make Race" differs from "Normal Race" with all CPU cars being the same model as the one chosen by the gamer, instead of a random CPU cars selection.

My garage customize (Dress up)

As an arcade game, Battle Gear 3 doesn't offer any car settings nor upgrading based tuning complex system like the Gran Turismo series; instead Taito has elaborated a Dress Up Customize feature. Tuning parts are only cosmetic changes, neither altering the car's weight nor maneuverability. Upgraded machines are only available in the S-Class and bearing the "Tuned" badge. Some cars have optional dress up modifications such as "Roof Color", "Circuit Aero" and "Works Color". The user may also visit "My Garage" to check his "Time Attack" per-car records or "Select" the car he's going to drive in the "Main Race" section.

PS2 controller settings

Battle Gear 3's gameplay is arcade-oriented over the simulation aspect with an intuitive handling and a particular drifting system. Drifting in this game is different compared to similar games like Initial D Special Stage's full-auto no sidebrake-style gameplay, but more of a compromise set somewhere between the all-digital based Kaido Battle series and the elitist clutch based system used in the D1 Grand Prix series.

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