Rally Trophy is a rally racing simulation game, the commercial debut of Finnish driving game developer Bugbear Entertainment note , first published by JoWood Productions in autumn 2001. The game was in development since the late 1990s and became a surprise hit, with lots of critical acclaim by players and reviewers alike.
It deviates from other existing rally games by being a retro-themed title, focusing on various classic rally cars from the 1960s and 1970s. It generally aims for a realistic simulation of these cars of yesteryear, which means they lack various fancy technical enhancements and upgrades of Present Day rally cars. Thanks to an advanced physics model, driving them actually feels like driving a vintage car, making the game fairly Nintendo Hard, but enjoyable and challenging nonetheless.
The retro atmosphere is also enhanced by grainy and traditional-looking menu screens, more regionally-themed and lesser known national championships, lots of Played for Laughs elements and some genuinely quality folk-rock style instrumental music, with a heavy dose of 1960s guitar sound.
This game features the following tropes :
- Ace Custom: Each car in the game has a standard rally version and a factory team version. Naturally, the more powerful (and often cooler-looking) factory team version of the car only gets unlocked as you progress through the game, winning new national championships or setting new time records on stages.
- Artifact Title: Rally Trophy sounds a bit plain, doesn't it ? Well, the game was originally (earlier in development) pitched as Historical Rally Trophy.
- Badass Driver: Your five opponents in Arcade mode. And you yourself will have to become one, in order to gradually win all the championships on higher difficulties.
- The Comically Serious: Your co-driver, pretty much any time you piss him off with bad driving or crashing.
- Cool, but Inefficient: The Lancia Stratos has an absurdly powerful motor, absurdly great acceleration, break-neck top speed... but apparently zero grip on anything else than tarmac/asphalt...
- Cool Car: Every damned one of them - and they're all just somewhat modified versions of ordinary 1960s and 1970s passenger cars. Well, except the two Lancias, which were among the first purpose-built modern rally cars.
- Creator Provincialism: To a degree. Justified in the case of Finland, since it's one of the birthplaces of modern rally racing and a staple of many international rally championships. An amusing Playing with a Trope version of this occurs with the Russian stages. They're in Russia all right... But judging by the place names and the local enviroment, it's very obvious they're all set specifically in Karelia, the traditional border region between Russia and Finland.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Played with. Of all the 11 available cars, 8 are RWD and vary a lot in terms of performance and the amount of skill needed for driving them. While switching from one car to another, you'll often have to unlearn or rethink skills you've learned. It's generally better to start with the more easily accessible FWD cars (the SAAB 96, Lancia Fulvia and Mini Cooper) and then gradually accustom yourself to the rear wheel drives. Some RWDs in the game can be literally sadistically hard to keep on the road along a straight line, with the Lancia Stratos and the 1960s version of the Opel Kadett being the worst offenders. But it's all justified, since those cars really were that hard to control. Generally speaking, the most stable to drive RWD cars are probably the Alfa Romeo Giullia and the Ford Cortina.
- Darkest Africa: Kenya, a staple of rally games, is the second country in the championship.
- Driving Stick: As in many rally racing games, you can choose either manual or automatic transmission. Automatic is easier to drive with (especially for newcomers), while manual is harder, but more sensitive and responsive.
- Dueling Games: With other titles of the early 2000s' glut of rally games. Especially with the second installment of the Colin McRae Rally series.
- Game Mod: Racing games traditionally aren't overly modding-friendly (even the ones with huge fan communities), but RT had a surprisingly great amount of fan-made custom content. Some quality stuff was made back in the day - especially many additional cars, both old and new, and even entire new stages and countries (the Australian maps were among the best). If you already own the game, you can start looking for various mods and addons here, here and here.
- Genre Throwback: To 1960s and 1970s era rally racing. The whole point and theme of the game, with some Affectionate Parody thrown in.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You can assign a name, surname and national flag to your racer.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: They also influence which cars, countries and stages you can select.
- In-Vehicle Invulnerability: Played straight, but with a subversion or two. As your windshield and front lights get damaged, your line of sight diminishes and gets a bit obscured (especially on night stages).
- Large Ham: Your co-driver, particularly in some instances.(animal runs across the road) "Waaaatch ooouuut !"
- Leitmotif: Each country in the game has its own music themes - two alternating ones for the rally stages in Rally mode and one for the circuit races of Arcade mode.
- Limited Sound Effects: Averted very well - except for the crash SFX, which play this painfully straight, being nearly identical, regardless of whether you hit a rock, tree or some metal object or whether you damaged the car's body or windows.
- Made of Iron: Massively averted in Rally mode (outside of your engine dying completely). Even if you completely avoid scratching the car's body, certain parts of the car's undercarriage will gradually accumulate wear over the course of several stages and will require replacement. On the other hand, the trope is played completely straight in Arcade mode, where you can focus on racing against opponents without having to worry about any kind of damage.
- Miniscule Rocking: Much of the game's soundtrack consists of themes barely longer than a minute or minute and a half. Justified, since most of these themes are designed to run on a loop and provide incidental background music. Most of the time, players hardly even notice the looping, since the songs' ends blend seemlessly into each other.
- Montage: The intro cutscene, complete with vivid Miniscule Rocking and an Action-Hogging Opening involving over half of the game's cars.
- Motorsports: European rally racing. Specifically, the early years of modern off-road and on-road rally racing.
- Nintendo Hard: It says something when one reviewer referred to it as the rally cousin of Grand Prix Legends. It's generally considered as having an exceptional damage model and very realistic, yet accessible handling physics (especially for its time). Many rally racing fans consider it to be the second most hardcore game of the whole genre, right after Richard Burns Rally.
- Norse by Norsewest: Sweden and Finland, being traiditional rally racing countries, feature in the championship. An aversion of this trope, since they're portrayed faithfully and differ quite a bit from each other (it helps that Sweden is the obligatory "snow and winter" country of the championship).
- Pet the Dog: While your co-driver will berate you for every crash or driving blunder, he doesn't hesitate to acknowledge your driving skills if you did well :(impressed grunt) Pretty good...Not spectacular, but not too shabby...Not too bad, keep it focused !
- Pintsized Powerhouse: True to its Real Life counterpart, the Abarth-produced sports modification of the Fiat 600 lives up to this trope. It might be as small a car as the Mini Cooper, but it's a rear wheel drive and has a very powerful engine, making it a speedy and agile little racer. Unfortunately, the much more powerful engine also provides the disadvantage of the car easily oversteering or understeering at higher speeds if not driven with care.
- Race Against the Clock: Played straight most of the time, just as in Real Life rally racing and any serious rally game. Hence why you will have to combine highly-skilled handling and a good instinct for accelerating and braking in order to score the best possible times on a particular rally stage. Averted in Arcade mode - as it's name implies, it's a Lighter and Softer take on rallying, where you eschew the setting of new records and listening to pacenotes altogether, and instead go circuit racing with a handful of actual opponents.
- Rule of Funny: A lot of various tongue-firmly-in-cheek gags, in contrast to what is otherwise a serious Driving Game. Your co-driver is... rather unconventional... In the English dub he has a definitely Upper-Class Twit accent and is really fond of chastising you for each car-shattering hit and crash you make. His Sarcasm Mode snarking and Large Ham remarks are generally hilarious.
"Way too fast for me, I gotta change my pants..."
- The game's credits featuring grainy footage of two 1950s-style Formula One toy cars pulled by strings competing on a muddy racing circuit built in someone's back yard.
- If you do a nearly flawless Drives Like Crazy Speed Run of a stage, your otherwise snarky co-driver will tremblingly exclaim at the finish line:
- And in contrast, if you arrive to the finish line with a rather unimpressive time score, he'll teasingly spout things like:
- Some Dexterity Required: To be expected in a rally racing sim. While the game is perfectly playable with keyboard control, installing a steering wheel helps.
- Spiritual Successor: The first game of Bugbear's later FlatOut series inherited much of the physics engine and visual style from Rally Trophy, albeit with many improvements.
- The Stoic: In contrast to his more Motor Mouth cousins from other rally games, your co-driver (at least in the English dub) fits this to a tee while reading the pacenotes of each stage. Well, until you hit something at 100 miles per hour, that is...
- Subsystem Damage: You can damage virtually anything on your car, from your bodywork and windows to your engines, axles, steering, brakes and transmission. Tyres also gather wear with each completed rally stage and require regular replacement. One of the few Acceptable Breaks from Reality is that your engine will never completely shut down, no matter the damage.
- Unlockable Content: New stages and cars (including the factory team versions) become available as you gradually progress through the main championship campaign (career mode) on gradually increasing difficulty levels.
- Wacky Racing: Present a bit in Arcade mode, where you race against a maximum of five opponents on a circuit track for at least three laps. While not outright vehicular combat, every single lap is a genuinely tense and thrilling experience. Standings of racers change easily and once a race starts, it's basically every man for himself. Even the background music is faster-paced and sounds a lot wackier than that of the stages in Rally mode.
- Yodel Land: The fifth and final country in the championship mode is Switzerland.