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Video Game / Test Drive

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A Driving Game series, Test Drive has seen races across the globe, in almost anything with wheels. 2002's TD Overdrive: Brotherhood of Speed (or just Test Drive in North America) has the protagonist Dennis Black competing against opponents in order to reveal the kingpin behind the street racing scenes. Test Drive Unlimited set players loose on the island of Oʻahu, Unlimited 2 adds the Spanish island of Ibiza. Ferrari Racing Legends on the other hand is a track based racer with collections of classic layouts of famous racing tracks and only features, as the name suggests, Ferraris. It's a Long Runner, as the series has been around since 1987, beginning under Accolade and continuing under Infogrames and Atari SA. It also has the Off-Road series which consist of four games (that span from 1997-2001).


A new Test Drive is currently in development by Kylotonn that will be published by Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive), who acquired the Test Drive franchise from Atari SA in 2016. After a teaser video clip was revealed on July 3, 2020, showing the formation of a crown-shaped logo with the letters "SC" in it, a teaser trailer revealed at Nacon Connect on July 7, 2020 announced that the next game will be called Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown.


Games in the series include:

  • Main series (1987–present)
    • Test Drive (1987)
    • The Duel: Test Drive II (1989)
    • Test Drive III: The Passion (1990)
    • Test Drive 4 (1997)
    • Test Drive 5 (1998)
    • Test Drive 6 (1999)
    • Test Drive Unlimited sub-series (2006–present)
      • Test Drive Unlimited (2006)
      • Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011)
      • Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown (TBA)
  • Off-Road sub-series (1997–2001)
  • Other games
    • Test Drive Le Mans (2000): A rebrand of Le Mans 24 Hours in North America except for the PlayStation 2 and second PC versions
    • Test Drive V-Rally (2000): A rebrand of V-Rally 2 (the second entry of an unrelated rally racing game series) in North America for the Dreamcast versionnote 
    • Advertisement:
    • Michelin Rally Masters: Race of Champions (2000)note 
    • Test Drive Cycles (2000)
    • Test Drive 2001 (2000)
    • Test Drive: Eve of Destruction / Test Drive: Driven to Destruction in Europe (2004)
    • Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012)

Tropes in the series in general:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 in the 2002 reboot is the most powerful car in the game next to the 2000 Viper Concept, but it handles like a greased pig.
  • Bigger Stick: The acquisition of new and better vehicles, or upgrades for vehicles you already possess, like in any other case, is an invocation of this trope.
  • Genre Shift: Not as exaggerated as Need for Speed, but every Test Drive game is different. The early ones (including the Off-Road spinoffs) are classic arcade racers, Overdrive puts storyline into mix, Unlimited goes Wide Open Sandbox, and Ferrari Racing Legends is a simulator.
  • Hummer Dinger: The trope namer appears in the Off-Road spinoffs as one of the playable cars (AND as the cover car in the trilogy).
  • Nintendo Hard: Test Drive 4 can be ridiculously impossible, even with the fastest cars.
  • One Driver Army
  • Product Placement: 6 featured ads for Motor Week, including footage from the show as scenes for the game's intro.
  • Improbably Cool Car: The Nissan Skyline GTR R33 (in 5) and R34, along with the Subaru Impreza 22B are these in 6 and the 2002 reboot.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: Especially flagrant in the 2002 game. If you stay in first place long enough, the opponents will either get a super speed boost or teleport to right behind you.
  • Rule of Three: Circuit races in 6 have three laps. Overdrive also counts.
  • Shown Their Work: Overdrive features pretty accurate car models. One example is, most cars are in LHD. This gets averted for the RHD cars, like the Skyline GTR R34.

Tropes in Test Drive (1987) and The Duel: Test Drive II (1989):

  • Cool Car: Test Drive features the coolest sports cars of its timenote  and the Lotus Esprit Turbo.
  • Copy Protection: Multiple forms:
  • Critical Existence Failure: contact with vehicles, cars, or anything else instantly causes the car to crash - as does redlining the engine.
    • Also, you actually have to stop at the gas stations at the end of each track, lest you run out of gas and lose a life. So there's no flying past the finish line like in all other racing games.
  • Diegetic Interface: The game does not use a HUD; instead it uses the cockpits and dashboards of the car(s). Naturally, some Interface Screw can occur with the windshield.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar, used by cops to catch speeders. You can detect its use, but it can also mean there's an incoming truck.
  • Level Goal: Checkpoints.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you tried to outrun the police, they would get ahead of you and block the road with their car to force you to stop. If you chose to ram their car, that was an automatic game over as the manual states doing this gets you arrested and imprisoned.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The track is made of vector graphics without textures, everything else from the interior of the player's car to all other cars on the road (non-scaling sprites at various fixed scales drawn from ahead and behind) to the non-race screens are pixel graphics.
  • Timed Mission: Timer is not displayed, and going to slow causes a loss at the next checkpoint.
    • In fact, the clock is the only opponent you have in the first game. Actual races weren't possible before Test Drive 2: The Duel.
  • Wraparound Background: The setting is a cliffside, but aside from turns, it's rather monotonous. It's similar to making the background go in a loop for a side-scrolling 2D game.

Tropes in TD Overdrive: Brotherhood of Speed (2002)

Tropes in Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (2004)

  • Genre Shift: Even in a series with a penchant for doing something different, this one is a standout. Eschewing flashy high-end rides for hoopties and old muscle cars, having an emphasis on Vehicular Combat, and being set in rural America.
  • Large Ham: The announcer. Jesus Christ, the announcer.
    "OH MY... GOD, WHAT A HIT!"
  • Vehicular Combat: Being a racing game that's based off of demolition derbies, especially the Crash-A-Rama events in the Floridan city of Orlando, it should come as no surprise that this game rewards aggressive behavior.
  • With This Herring: You start the Career Mode with a Top, an unremarkable hatchback that the game says you inherited from your grandmother.

Ferrari Racing Legends (2012):

  • Genre Shift: Breaks the tradition of the series test driving happening on public roads. Also it is much less arcade and more simulation.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The realistic driving physics when all aids are turned off are often called unrealistic because the cars appear to drift and spin so quickly.
  • That One Level: As the three campaigns each are strictly sequential, necessary to unlock cars and tracks and each mission varying widely in difficulty, players who flew through a campaign can suddenly hit a (metaphorical) wall and have to retry again and again.


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