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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:

  • Original series (1987–2002)
    • 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)
    • TD Overdrive: The Brotherhood of Speed / Test Drive in North America (2002)
  • Test Drive Unlimited reboot 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 / Driven to Destruction in Europe and Australia (2004)
    • Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (2012)

Tropes in the series in general:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Much like Overdrive (see below), the 5th-generation era is pretty notorious for having inept AI that tends to run into obstacles or traffic, sometimes giving the player a chance to lead.
  • 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.
  • Blood Sport: The Duel began this trope in the franchise, if not the racing game genre.
  • 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 the mix, Unlimited goes Wide-Open Sandbox (and invoking Continuity Reboot at the same time), 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).
  • 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, considering that they weren't sold in America and Europe.
  • 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: Unlike the 5th generation console games, Overdrive features somehow accurate car models, and features correct police liveries on some of the tracks (albeit not their sirens).
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The fifth generation console games, mainly 4 and 5 border between this and Artificial Stupidity, often being ahead of the player.

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

  • Blood Sport: While the first game has you simply navigating your car through the streets, The Duel adds in the option to battle the computer-controlled opponent, while also trying to evade police cars.
  • 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.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The player character in the Super Nintendo version of The Duel: Test Drive II is voiced, in two specific circumstances: being chased by a police unit, or when evading one.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Despite being based on ordinary Malaise-era American sedans, notorious in real life for having woefully underpowered engines, the police cars will easily breeze by your sports car at speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour to pull you over.
  • Timed Mission: Timer is not displayed, and going too 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)

  • Blood Sport: More so than any other installment to date.
  • Fauxrrari: All of the drivable vehicles are real-world cars with the badges removed and a different name slapped on.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Orbital and Rocket are the fastest cars in the game and have very high handling. Their durability on the other hand isn't anything to write home about.
    • In general, cars with high speed and/or handling will get torn up in derbies and the more destructive races.
  • 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 Announcer: The unnamed announcer provides some positively boisterous commentary for events, courtesy of Monster Games producer John Schneider (no, not that one).
    "OH MY... GOD, WHAT A HIT!"
  • Lightning Bruiser: Some cars provide good acceleration and handling without sacrificing durability. Examples include the Durand, the Gladiator, and the Hearse.
  • Mighty Glacier: Cars with a "=D=" symbol denote high durability. As a rule of thumb, they'll thrive in derbies and do poorly elsewhere.
  • No Antagonist: You have an owner of a junkyard/used-car dealership and a garage (Sweeny), an unseen owner of a diner and malt shop (TJ), a top-ranked local running an illegal racing circuit (Troy Harder), a lively announcer, and over a hundred competitors. None of them are going out of their way to sabotage your career.
  • Tuckerization: Several of the AI-controlled racers were named after Monster Games staff. Troy Harder in particular shares his name with the game's car artist.
  • 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.
  • Where It All Began: The final eve ("Destruction Championship") takes place in your unnamed home town.
  • With This Herring: You start the Career Mode with a Top, an unremarkable hatchback you inherit from your now-deceased 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.

Alternative Title(s): Test Drive 6