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The Peak of Cel-Shaded Games Is A Racing Game

An online writer who is also an avid geek to automotive, video games, and anime. Have a soft spot for racing games


Cel-shading is one of the approaches in game presentation and the newest. By utilizing cel shades, game makers can add 2D flair to the 3D models. As a result, the game looks cartoony yet is still flashy.

The cel-shading approach often associates with Sega’s Jet Set Radio, a game that kicked off the trend of cel-shaded games in 2000s. The peak, however, happens to be (surprisingly) a racing game released not long after it.

Enter Auto Modellista. A Capcom attempt at cashing in racing game genre, the game was aesthetically iconic. Through the use of 2.5D graphics, Auto Modellista managed to be distinctive compared to not only other racers and but also games in similar presentation.

So, what is Auto Modellista? In early 2000s, Capcom initiated a project on online-based games which resulted in three multiplayer games (the same project also established Capcom’s flagship Monster Hunter). Auto Modellista was one of the three, named after Italian terms for car designer.There are two versions of the game: the original Auto Modellista was released in Japan and Europe and the updated version came stateside.

Like other Japanese racing games at the time, the game is full of Japanese (as well as American and Korean ) cars which players must navigate through Japanese mountains, streets, and circuits. The main feature of the game, however, is the online connectivity which enables a player to race with others.

What distinguishes Auto Modellista from other racers is the graphics. Capcom departed from the realistic approach seen in other racing games such as Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and went for anime-like presentation in depicting the high-speed racing. As such, the whole game environment sports cartoony flair in place of photorealism.

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Why’s the peak?

While other cel-shaded games at the time still have 3D bits in its modelling, Auto Modellista rather gone full anime style optimizing 2.5D shapes creating full anime effect. From cars to tracks featured in the game, they look no different from those seen in older animes you have watched in bootleg DVDs.

The cel shading work was done beautifully while Capcom still get the racing aspects right visually. The game still has a sense of speed, even better when it is depicted in cartoony style.

How the car runs, how the car corners, the game depicts them flashy. The full action environment is even amplified by visual effects like speed lines that appear when your car is speeding.

Despite the game was plagued by wacky physics, the game managed to retain high pace that gets player immersed into the race. Had Capcom improved how the car handles and made the game more challenging, the game would have had a way better racing experience.



Today, the game still sees discussion among racing game connoisseurs for its unique presentation and gameplay. Among other racing games, Auto Modellista wasn’t the only one presented in 2.5D fashion. Drift City, an MMO racing game, was an instance, further proving cel-shaded graphics is applicable to racing games.

The full anime presentation similar game can also be found in recent games. And with technology marches on, it could reach an even better result. Notable company that goes with such a style is Arc System Works which blends 2D-like character design and 3D environment.

Capcom managed to optimize 2.5D shapes, making it look quirky yet timeless. That is the thing that makes the game, at least for me, stands out of other cel-shaded games. And it’s why this game is one of the most iconic games the Noughties could have.

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