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Video Game / Racing Lagoon

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10 years ago, one man was known as the fastest in all of Yokohama...
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Racing Lagoon is a night racing game from Japan mixed with RPG elements ("High Speed Driving RPG") created by Squaresoft in 1999. It never got an international release, and it's one of many awesome games Squaresoft created, with a rather dark story, interesting characters, an exciting racing system and fully-customizable cars. Rather than simply choosing a car and upgrading its characteristics, cars in Racing Lagoon are a combination of Engine, Chassis, and Body, all of which are freely swappable with parts from the same type. Winning races will grant these parts EXP and unlock more customization slots. The player can also loot any part they like from defeated racer, provided they have sufficient currency (RP) to do it, or even have their items looted if they lose the race. The driving physics lean more towards the arcade-y side, with no damage model and an emphasis on drifting, but stats like horsepower, maximum torque, and drivetrain will affect the car's handling much like in a sim racer.

The game fictionally takes place in the year 1999 in Yokohama, 10 years after the event called "Fastest Legend". One night, Team Bay Lagoon Racing (BLR), led by The Ace, Ikki Fujisawa holds a team battle with Night Racers Honmuku (NR). One of BLR's newly joined members, Sho Akasaki, begins his story of his racing career. Akasaki is determined to find out about the mystery of the legend 10 years ago, as well as his forgotten past.

The game's cult status prompted a fan translation project to bring the game into English-speaking audience. Find the English patch here.

Racing Lagoon provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Team leaders are this. Fujisawa is notable as he is your team's leader.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Losing to any of the races past the Point of No Return will prompt an option to return to Last Night, in case you need to grind EXP and farm parts.
  • Artifact of Doom: Subverted. Diablo-Tune itself isn't evil, but it's very overpowered and very dangerous to use, especially when paired with the fear-suppressing Diablo drug.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Any body can fit any chassis so long the drivetrain requirement is met, actual dimensions be damned. This leads into weird situations where you car have the body of a luxury sedan sitting on the chassis of a tiny Kei car.
    • Continuing from the above, bodies will magically alter their shape depending on the chassis' engine placement. In real life, this would require extensive re-engineering of the entire car (which is somewhat modelled by body shop mechanic). In the Racing Lagoon universe, a RZ-3000 (Toyota Supra) body can fit an FR and MR chassis out of the box, but not FF or 4WD.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Some engines have very high power output, but they have no part socket at all and can't be leveled up. With the correct parts, even the slowest engines can outperform them.
    • Depending on your taste, the Bosozoku aerokit can look pretty badass, and it comes with its own wing and exhaust to boot. It is also the heavies of all aerokits, actually raises the car's drag coefficient, and you can't replace the built-in wing and exhaust with better ones.
  • Badass Driver: Every named racer qualifies, but Sho especially, being the main protagonist and all. Even 10 years before the main game, he was beating WON-TEC Drivers in Diablo Zetas with a stock Zeta. Some of the feats attributed to the "Fastest Legend" was in fact his own doing!
  • Bad Moon Rising: The prologue chapter (appropriately titled "Crimson Moon") is set against the backdrop of a red moon, signifying the start of Sho's meteoric rise in the street racing world. It was later revealed that the Fastest Legend also disappeared during a red moon, in which Sho caused a multi-car wreck and personally finished off any survivors.
  • Big Bad: WON-TEC Corp, who not only operates in the automotive industry, but also biotechnology of all things. Their "Diablo" drug, capable of suppressing a person's fear response, was responsible for the "Fastest Legend" myth, which in turn kickstarted the plot in the first place.
  • The Big Race: Yokohama GP. The first act of the story focuses on BLR's efforts to win the grand prix, while the second and third acts is about Sho dealing with the fallout of the race.
  • Bittersweet Ending: WON-TEC is stopped and their Diablo project is in ruins, with two of their head honchos dead. However, so do Kyoji and Makoto.
  • Blood Sport: The game makes no pretense that street racing is all sunshine and rainbows. People do crash and die behind the wheels, as seen with Makoto and Ikki.
  • Car Fu: Bumping into opponents makes you bounce off them, likewise when someone hits you from behind. Getting in front of someone and shoving them back is a good tactic.
  • Catchphrase: Keisuke's "Showtime", so frequently it becomes a plot-relevant term.
    • Akasaki likes to mutter "That's right..." during his monologue.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The plot takes a sharp turn into the dark side after the Yokohama GP.
  • Cool Car: You can access to more than 40 bodies of non-licensed cars, modify their body with different body modifier parts, and the car's look also changes when you put a body into different drivetrain chassises. For example, the Aero-Old chassis is a minimal tune-up, the Aero-GT makes the car look like a GT race car, the Aero-C makes the car look like a FREAKING Le Mans Prototype, and the Aero-Diablo? Let's NOT get started on the Aero-Diablo.
    • Ikki Fujisawa's DR30 Skyline falls under this. The body kit mirrors that of the Super Silhouette Skyline race car that competed in the Fuji Grand Champion Series, and it makes it look pretty badass.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Street racers consider Yokohama a heaven and the racing itself is officially sponsored, but deaths isn't uncommon and the sponsor is exploiting street racing for their own benefit.
  • Damsel in Distress: Yuka in the first chapter gets kidnapped by the Ishikawa brothers to goad Ikki into a Revenge Race.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sho, who was formerly experimented on by WON-TEC ten years prior and exposed to the "Diablo" drug. The result was the "Fastest Racer", who personally murdered every other "Diablo" test driver with a pipe before disappearing. While he's got Laser-Guided Amnesia in the present, the aftermath of the Yokohama GP causes Sho's past to violently resurface.
  • Darker and Edgier: To Chocobo Racing, Squaresoft's other racing game.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Kyoji Nanaba. And it's your fault. You have to beat him to become a candidate of the Yokohama GP to advance the story, ruining his dream and ambition in the process.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Putting a lot of turbos with a low-compression piston makes your car go insanely fast even during the middle part of the story. Backyard SP's chassis also makes starting a lot faster even though it has a low level cap. Although in the end where everything's insanely fast, it's driving skill that determines the outcome of the races.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: You can choose the car chassis, the engine and the drivetrain, and even slap in upgrades, in a pure RPG fashion.
  • Developer's Foresight: All bodies in the game have variations depending on the engine placement of the chassis its mated with. This includes the joke ones like Truck, Bus, and Limo. Not a lot of these combinations end up practical, but it's there if the player wants it.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Kyoji ends up looking half zombie and speaking brokenly under the influence of the Diablo drug.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Kyoji Nanba dies offscreen after you race his Diablo Tuned-SEVEN.
  • Fauxrrari: All cars (and their parts) are modelled after real ones, but renamed just enough to avoid licensing issues, so instead of Celica you have Celines, X1800S instead of 180SX, and so on.
  • Final Boss: The last "proper" race is a one-on-one against (one of many) Diablo Zetta in the Darkness GP course, but the real final boss is actually Aoi Kawashima in Ikki's Diablo RS.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: The Motomachi's Queens' home turf. They hold nightly races inside the tight alleyways, which the player can join as UORs.
  • Friendly Rival: Tsujimoto and Sawaki for the main character. Meanwhile, Koguchi from Team Drift Dancers is Fujisawa's old friend.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Sho goes from a guy who street races to kill time into one of the fastest drivers in Yokohama in a manner of weeks. He also was the random nobody who inadvertently ruined WON-TEC's "Diablo" research ten years ago.
  • Game of Chicken: The Unofficial Races in Takashima Wharf take the form of this. Two cars race together to the edge of the pier. Whoever stops closest to the edge wins. There is even a No Brake variant for added challenge.
  • Gratuitous English: The game is infamous for liberally sprinkling 「COOL」 and 「HOT」 English words everywhere it can, even for gameplay terms. The post-race loot screen is called 「GetREWARDS」for one. Freddie Roberts, being a foreigner with poor grasp of Japanese, peppers his dialogue with even more broken English.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The R26B-TT33 engine can be acquired as early as 6th Night. It provides excellent power when stock, decent weight, good amounts of sockets, and has twin turbos by default, which matters when some UORs require your engine to have 8 turbos. Other engines beat it in one or two parameters, but the R26B-TT33 is so reliable it can easily become the basis of endgame builds.
  • Joke Item: You can get truck and bus bodies and mod them, but they're so HUGE and obscuring you almost have to switch to first person view to use them, not to mention being heavy as hell.
  • Kick the Dog: Poor Yamada gets the serious treatment. It's quite unsure he's dead or not by the end, although he is revealed to be alive, telling you how racing allowed him to grew up, if you completed all Unofficial Races before reaching the ending.
  • Hearing Voices: After the Yokohama GP, several drivers began to hear a "voice", tempting them to drive and achieve even greater speeds than before, eventually leading to their death. Kyoji and Ikki are the most notable victims, and even Sho isn't safe. This is later revealed to be the side effect of the "Diablo" drug, though Sho's case is a bit more complicated.
  • Magikarp Power: Fully leveled early parts may have more slots than their higher-tier equivalent. This is especially important for engines, as stacking turbos/superchargers is how you squeeze out the most horsepower out of it.
  • Mind Screw: A lot after 5th night.
  • Mood Whiplash: Right after you win Yokohama GP qualifiers, Nanba and Sawaki die. After you win the Yokohama GP Final, you suddenly go mad and then you race Fujisawa, leading to his crash.
  • Multi-Track Drifting: Bus and trucks can drift as well as smaller vehicles, especially when tuned.
  • Not Completely Useless: Some parts do nothing but add weight or decrease your engine power, which is the exact opposite of what you want them to do. What they can do is make certain builds qualify for UOR restrictions. A 300kg Ballast suddenly becomes useful when you have trouble meeting the minimum weight requirements, for example.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • We never see how Sho beats up Keisuke and Gamou in the Diablo Tune workshop. Given how their corpses are described in the next chapter, however, it might also be for the better.
    • Sho's rampage in the Bay Lagoon Tower is also not shown. His alternate personality takes over and blacks out. When he comes to, he was rescued by Akira and Yuka minutes away before the entire building self-destructs.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Prince of Test Course is obviously Yamada with a flu mask. Even though he customizes his car, he stills left his KY parts as dead giveaways.
  • People Jars: Won-Tec's D-Sleep technology allows them to preserve humans without the subject aging for years. Sho's recurring dreams of being underwater came from being submerged inside one of these tubes.
  • Pimped-Out Car: Monster-R, a modified Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R.
  • Pipe Pain: Pipes seems to be the weapon of choice for many characters. Keisuke and Gamou confront Sho in the Diablo Tuneshop wielding pipes, and Sho himself grabs one to defend himself. It's later revealed that he also beat the Diablo drivers to death with a pipe ten years ago.
  • Plotline Death: Kyoji dies during the Yokohama GP because he crashed his Seven-RX (FC RX-7), which he Diablo-tuned.
    • Sawaki crashes into a corner during Chapter 2's Taiman (one-on-one) battle and dies after Yokohama GP's qualifying round, around the same time Nanba dies.
  • Pre-existing Encounters: Engage into battles by flashing headlights on each other.
  • Red Baron: Fujisawa is "The Fastest Man of Yokohama".
  • Single-Minded Twins: The Ishikawa brothers start, but subvert this later on.
  • Socketed Equipment: Chassis, Bodies, and Engines have sockets on which parts are installed. Different components have different amount of sockets, which usually can be increased through leveling them up.
  • Spiritual Successor: Received one early in the Playstation 2 era in form of Driving Emotion Type S. Unlike Racing Lagoon however, Driving Emotion Type-S is more of a conventional racing game in vein of Gran Turismo.
  • Starter Equipment: You start with a slightly tuned 86-Lev.
  • Underground Monkey: Later nights feature faster variants of cars previously encountered. This is justified as they usually correspond to a higher trim level in real life or explicitly modified by their drivers.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Hokkaido segment is the only part where snow tires are relevant. It also only contain two courses, one of which is restricted to story races, and the whole area cannot be revisited afterwards.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: When you're not racing, you're free to roam Yokohama in top-down view. One of the first racing games to have this, only beaten by Vette!.