Every Dreamcast game featuring a Toyota Celica...because why not?

I recently bought a Toyota Celica. When I showed a picture of it to my sister, she asked if I was having a mid-life crisis. I enthusiastically replied that I'm having a whole-life crisis, but that the purchase of this automobile had nothing to do with it. I just happened to see it going quite cheap and was looking for a replacement for the old diesel estate that had trustily transported me and all my Dreamcast crap to countless gamings expos over the years. So yeah, I'm now a member of the Celica owner's club. Not an actual club - although I'm sure something like that exists for conscientious drivers who like nothing better than adding gigantic spoilers, furry dice, diamond encrusted wheels and go faster stripes to their cars.
I've blanked out my number plate so ne'erdowells don't do ne'erdowell stuff with it.
After owning the Celica for a couple of weeks, something odd slowly dawned on me as I mindlessly played various entries in the racing genre on Dreamcast. No, it wasn't the realisation that nothing even comes close to Spirit of Speed 1937 in simulating the thrills of driving a real race car. It was actually something far less interesting to pretty much everyone who isn't me: the Toyota Celica features in quite a few Dreamcast racing titles...and I'm not just talking about the famous GT-Four rally car either. 
The Celica GT-Four as seen in Sega Rally 2
No, I'm specifically talking about the seventh generation Toyota Celica coupe, the final model Toyota released before killing off the iconic marque in the mid 2000s. A car that - for me at least - has taken on baader-meinhof properties since I started driving one. Seriously - I see them everywhere now. I suppose the answer as to why the seventh generation Celica appeared in so many Dreamcast games is quite obvious when you really think about it though.
The real deal...
The Celica - and specifically the seventh generation model (pictured) - was Toyota's flagship coupe slap bang in the middle of the era of the Dreamcast (the seventh generation Celica was produced between 1999 and 2006), so why wouldn't it appear in so many Dreamcast games as a mid-level sportster? A mid-level sportster with outstanding fuel economy, light weight and outrageous road handling, I should add...but that's a topic for another website entirely.
...the digital deal
Anyway, join me, dear reader, as we look at all the titles on Dreamcast that feature the seventh generation Toyota Celica, and a few that feature the iconic GT-Four...

Metropolis Street Racer
Bizarre Creations' seminal driving game has a surprising number of real world vehicles you can sample the delights of, and though you start small with some fairly low-specced runabouts, as you progress through the chapters more and more powerful cars are revealed; their well-rendered showroom blankets thrown off to reveal the glistening virtual paint beneath. The Celica featured in Metropolis Street Racer is ranked with a modest 4.0 CPF (Car Performance Rating), meaning it's not quite the top end of the stable, but does the job for the chapters in which it becomes available. 
MSR's vehicle selection screen is pretty cool
It's the favoured 190bhp model used in MSR
It handles well (like most cars in this game to be honest) and has a decent top speed. The model is very faithful too, although it does lack the interior details seen in some other games listed here. Due to MSR's lack of any real tuning or visual detail options, you can't really change much apart from the tint of the windows, the colour of the paint and the registration plate, but that's OK.
This is taken from the 'Exhibition' mode
Doing a bit of sightseeing in London of an evening
Metropolis Street Racer's Celica is a fine representation of the real thing, and as you'd expect it features the standard 6-speed gearbox found in the real vehicle (7-speed if you count reverse), but to be honest you'd kind of expect this level of authenticity in a game where the developers measured the actual height of curbs in London to make sure everything looked as accurate as possible. It would have been nice to be able to add spoilers or change the alloy wheels, but that wasn't really a thing with any of the cars in MSR, so I'm happy to give it a pass on that front.

Tokyo Highway Challenge 2
Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 (aka Tokyo Xtreme Racer 2 aka Shutokou Battle 2) doesn't have an official license from any real world car manufacturers, but that didn't stop Genki from including the cream of the crop from Japan's superlative range of automotive powerhouses. Pretty much every major make and model is included in the game, but they all have random strings of letters and numbers instead of their model names. Here, the Celica is car 8 of 8 in the B Class, and is named Type-T231, which is a nod to the real world Celica ZZT231 model, which featured the higher-spec 1.8l 192bhp engine (over the standard ZZT230 which produces a modest 140bhp, and is the version I own).
Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 has some of the best car models on Dreamcast
This shot is from an emulator, which shows off the sharp lines of the model
Of the Type-T231, Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 states: "This car's predecessors had gorgeous but heavy bodies driven by powerful engines. However, this latest model was recast as an FF (front engine, front drive) sports car under the concept of a lightweight, compact body driven by a sufficiently powerful engine. It has a surprisingly aggressive appearance and offers nimble handling. When tuning, you will want to reinforce the body and engine due to their lightweight design."
Is this the best looking Celica model on Dreamcast?
I'd wager it is...even if the game has limited appeal
Unlike MSR, Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 offers the ability to modify and tune the vehicle, and there are some truly hideous presets when it comes to bodywork and spoiler add-ons...which no doubt sounds heavenly to any boi racer out there reading this! It's also worth noting that the Celica, sorry Type-T231, depicted here also appears to have a fully modelled (and accurate) interior - you can see the illuminated clocks and even the correct positioning of the circular dashboard vents. Great attention to detail, I'm sure you'll agree. I'd probably go as far as stating that the Celica vehicle model used in Tokyo Highway Challenge 2 is the best there is on Dreamcast.

Sega GT
Sega's answer to Gran Turismo didn't really set the world alight on release, and the various issues levelled at it include slightly floaty car handling, a lack of interesting circuits and a career mode that is nowhere near as deep as Polyphony Digital's title. Even so, Sega GT is one of the better real world racers on the Dreamcast and it also features some really nice visuals. The environments can seem a little on the sterile side at times, but the vehicle models more than make up for it.
This screen lets you assess how the vehicle behaves under acceleration
The Celica on the starting grid
The Celica - as with all of the other vehicles in Sega GT - is superbly modelled, although it doesn't feature the translucent windows seen in the other polygonal titles detailed in this article. It also seems to corner like a bus, drifting like a lumbering juggernaut whenever you try to take corners at speed...but again, that's more an issue with Sega GT as a whole. The Celica is available from the start of the game, with no unlocking required, and is classed as an easy to intermediate vehicle. Sega GT does have a nice showroom function where you can make the static vehicle model accelerate and brake using the analogue triggers on the control pad, and this shows how the vehicles react under acceleration and braking forces. It's such a small feature, but also a really cool one, and of course allows you to get a good look at the models themselves.
None of the vehicles in Sega GT have translucent windows for some reason
Got to love Sega GT's faux reflection effects
In practice, you don't get to see much of the Celica apart from its rear end during a race, but what you do see is gloriously modelled. It's really in the replays though that the rear attention to detail is shown off. From the nicely rounded arch of the bonnet scoop, to the sleek lines of the wings, it's all here present and correct. One thing I did notice while taking the shots for this article though, is that during the replay mode Sega GT's AI goes a bit crazy and just makes the cars crash against barriers. Which is odd. Still, a great in-game model, even with the solid grey window glass that makes it look like the de-mister is broken.

Rush Rush Rally Racing
OK, so this one is pushing it a little. It's just that the yellow 'Coupe' car featured in Senile Team's top-down arcade racer does look a little bit like a Celica, and features the trademark bonnet scoop along with the spotlights under the main upswept headlights.
Some of the stylised vehicles here are clearly identifiable
Extreme close up on what I would wager is a Celica
I reached out to Rush Rush Rally Racing's Roel van Mastbergen to ask him if the Coupe is indeed a reimagining of the Celica and he replied: "The way I went about designing the vehicles in Rush Rush Rally Racing is that I first looked at photos of existing cars (rally cars, supercars and others), and then drew a blend of what I'd just absorbed. I don't remember all the details, but there was definitely some Toyota in the mix, so you may well have spotted that correctly."
Another shot from the cool animated intro
The low detail and zoomed out view don't really help matters here
So not a definitive answer, but I'm willing to take that as confirmation that there are at least some Celica-esque properties in the mix here. The in-game model is quite hard to definitively single out as a Celica - it doesn't look especially Celica-like from above as the sprites themselves are quite low-detail, such is the retro-inspired aesthetic of Rush Rush Rally Racing. That said, all of the cars in the game handle will nimble precision, and that's the Celica in a nutshell. So there.

Doricatch Series Toyota Celica
Probably the most famous and simultaneously least well known at the same time (an oxymoron?), the Doricatch Series Toyota Celica disc is perhaps the best representation of the Celica there is on the Dreamcast...probably. I say probably (twice), because I haven't actually been able to sample the contents of this disc for myself, and there are no 'in-game' screens or footage of it running anywhere on the internet. It's also never been dumped as far as I can tell. Trust me - I've looked. 
This is the only image that exists online of the Celica Doricatch disc
The Doricatch Series was a series of Dreamcast compatible 'virtual showroom' discs created in collaboration with Toyota back in the early 2000s (see our previous article on the business applications of the Dreamcast). The idea was that Dreamcast consoles were installed in kiosks in Toyota dealerships in Japan, and then the Doricatch Series discs were left running so that potential buyers could look at various specs and watch promotional videos for the corresponding vehicle. Several were produced, the full list being (according to this thread on DC-Talk):
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - Celica
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - Estima red
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - FunCargo
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - Gaia
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - Land Cruiser 100/Cygnus
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - Land Cruiser Prado
  • Toyota Doricatch Series - RAV4 L
  • Toyota Digital Catalog - Celsior
The Toyota Land Cruiser disc seems to be the one most readily available online, and it features a fully rendered 3D model of the vehicle that drives along a rudimentary track, and it appears that users could rotate the camera and see the model from all angles. Elsewhere on the disc, vehicle specs such as engine power and other information such as safety features, in-car entertainment and that type of thing could be perused. The only other disc I've been able to find a dump of is the Toyota/Lexus Celsior Doricatch disc, but it is far less advanced than the Land Cruiser showcase, and simply has a series of videos documenting performance and other features - the screens here are taken from that disc.
These shots are from the Toyota Celsior disc...
...but I wonder if the elusive Celica disc would look similar
I have no idea if the Celica Doricatch disc is similar to the Celsior disc or the Land Cruiser disc as so little information exists on it, but I like to think Sega would have included the fully rendered Celica model simply as it already had one as documented in the Sega GT entry above. This is all just speculation though, as I simply do not know what form the information on the Celica Doricatch comes in.
Pressing start activates this handy menu
Although the main menus are in English and Japanese
The disc features plenty of promo videos
The Doricatch discs could make for a full blown article on their own, especially as there was also a special edition Dreamcast console created for Toyota showrooms (well, it had a yellow sticker on it), but for now all we have on the Celica Doricatch is the single scan of the rear jewel case inlay. Incidentally, I have emailed Toyota directly to see if I can get in touch with the company archivist to ask further questions about this series. I get a positive response (doubtful) I'll be sure to follow it up with an equally pointless article right here at the Junkyard.

Bonus content
As stated in the intro, the Celica GT-Four also appeared in two officially released Dreamcast titles (well three, if you also count the appearance in MSR). It also appeared in Neo Drift Out, but as that's a Neo4All release, I'm not sure it counts. Anyway, below are the two appearances of said rally car, done up in the famous colours of Yoshio Fujimoto's Toyota Castrol rally team of the mid-1990s.

Sega Rally 2
Clearly following in the trie tracks of the iconic vehicle depicted in the original Sega Rally Championship, it was pretty much a given that the GT-Four would return to the sequel. It's a pretty awesome looking model, and looked about as close to the real thing as you could hope to get back in 1998 / 99. Easily my favourite car in Sega Rally 2, even if it isn't the quickest or easiest to handle.
Gotta be 6 Speed Auto in Sega Rally 2. Don't pretend you use manual
Yep. That's a GT-Four alright!
V-Rally 2
The GT-Four in V-Rally 2 is a bit of an odd-looking beast. You can tell what it's meant to be - it has the familiar huge spoiler and trademark light clusters, but it just looks a bit wrong. Not the best description I know...but look at it and see for yourself. Not a patch on Sega Rally 2's GT-Four in my humble opinion. That said, this Celica is the only one in this entire list to have a fully modelled internal cockpit view, so it has that going for it at least.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice the VMU Tool influence here!
I don't know...it just looks a bit off
So there we have it. I pretty much answered the slightly rhetorical question in the intro to this article, but I think you'll agree that for a console that was in the limelight for such a short period, it really did pack in the Celicas.

What do you think? Are there any other marques that have a strangely ubiquitous presence in the Dreamcast racing library? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

4 comments:

Outlaw said...

I don’t own a Celica, but it is an iconic car for sure! Had fun reading this article. Makes me want to revisit some DC racing games! :-)

Enjoy your new car!

Anthony817 said...

Now I have Tom to thank for giving a name to the phenomenon where somebody I know has a new car and I start seeing those models more and more all around me. I never knew it was called the Baader-meinhoff phenomenon, and now I know. So thanks!

Also, I always thought it was an awesome car, so congrats on owning one. I am sure it is a blast to drive.

JRod said...

The Dodge Viper is iconic car on the cover of 2 games, Sega GT and Test Drive 6. I believe it is in a couple of others as well.

Dmoss said...

I use to own a 2000 Celica (06-09) and I definitely would go through racing games just to find one. Did you get the GT or GTS? If you got the GTS , especially manual, get those RPMs over 6k and you'll get that car really moving.