Although the Sega Saturn has its roots in the Saturn Game Gear, it could never compare to its famous stablemate, and after the amazing Saturn launch with the introduction of games like Monster League and Virtua Racing 2: Ultra Drift, some of the hype had already begun to dissipate as far as enthusiast excitement for the new system. Thankfully, the Saturn did have one impressive car engine to which it could draw strength: Sega’s Power Drive Engine.
Intended to be used as a “relay race engine,” the powerhouses for Sega’s racing games had nothing to do with a car’s engine or with the mechanics of racing. Frequenters of motoristo.com who also happen to be gamers will have picked all of this almost immediately. The Power Drive Engines for Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter have been extensively explored by gaming enthusiast sites, and the primary focus of these studies is how well the engines can produce impressive results for the simple task of providing graphics in racing games. As the creators of Virtua Fighter 2 (under Sega’s former label Sega AM2), the engine was naturally optimized for arcade production. A modern engine with a large list of features and effects is obviously capable of more than just a few basic calculations, so the engineers and developers for Virtua Fighter 2 likely took advantage of the many sophisticated parts of the engine to achieve even greater visual effects than any other car engine.
More Than a Car Engine
Although the Power Drive Engine only provided visual effects, the engine was specifically designed for use with cars. It is not even a general purpose engine designed to work with a variety of vehicles. Rather, the engine’s ultimate goal was to produce a car engine. The designers of the engine developed the basic design to make it possible for the engine to be tailored to more than just the data provided by a single car. Specifically, the engine uses an arrangement of circuits and bits of data, many of which are dependent on each other, to create a complex virtual vehicle engine.
When initially creating the engine, it was not necessary to make the engine “simply” make car engines look real. In fact, one of the original game designers of Virtua Fighter 2, Yoshinori Kuwata, openly admitted that the initial project was not actually aimed at making cars look real in Virtua Fighter 2, but instead at making cars look cool.
For a car engine to look cool in a racing game, it would need to possess similar traits to other types of cars. It would need to move quickly, with the wheels rotating at speed while the car is being driven. It would need to turn smoothly while moving. It would need to be powerful, with its engines creating a powerful noise. It would need to be smooth and sleek, with the body looking as neat as possible with no bumps or scratches. From the outset, a car engine would not be considered as a cool visual for a racing game.
Although the original design for Virtua Fighter 2 was aimed at creating realistic cars, the idea that a car engine could be “cool” in a racing game was not a fantasy, and it was actually a goal. The original design for the Virtua Fighter engine was based on the concept that cars were basically “big computer machines.” The designers of the engine intended for the engine to look cool in Virtua Fighter by allowing the vehicle to look like a large, shiny, machine, with power coming out of its backside. Virtually all of the graphics in Virtua Fighter were designed to “go with” the engine.
The hardware limitations of the Saturn were especially helpful for making the engine appear as smooth and cool as possible.