For most of my childhood, I wasn't a huge racing-game fan. I'd played a fair share of early racing games from Pole Position to Virtua Racing, but I wasn't impressed. Most of them suffered from loose controls and ugly graphics.
The first Gran Turismo montage I saw completely changed my outlook on video games forever.
I honestly thought every gaming magazine was joking when they were praising this game back in 1997. My friends loved it. Critics loved it.
When my dad gave me the title as a Christmas gift, I was really nervous. I kept asking myself whether this would really live up to the hype. After playing that Indy 500 game on the computer with awful controls, I was afraid to even try it.
I really shouldn't have worried so much though. After loading the game in the system, I saw one of the most beautiful intro sequences ever.
The first parts of the video had the unusual tranquil atmosphere that people don't typically think about on a racetrack. The rustling trees in the wind. The leaves on the track. A bird flying onto the starting lights. As the sun rose in the sky, the weird techno music grew to a loud crescendo.
Then, the text on the screen threw all the car-model names into my face before boasting that this was "The Real Driving Simulator." Finally, when the logo appeared, the crescendo stopped and the drums played in a hip jungle beat to some surreal, psychedelic guitar fuzz.
It was one of the most insane racing montages I had ever seen. Everything looked incredible, from the blurry graphics to the squealing cars drifting around the curves. It all seemed to gel together like a dream, especially with that harmonious techno buzz in the background.
Years later, I finally discovered that the music to this intro was a rare Chemical Brothers remix of a song by the Manic Street Preachers. At the time, the Chemical Brothers barely received recognition on the radio for their song "Block Rockin' Beats." It was a song with a bass riff that I didn't care much about at the time. After watching the intro though, I became a huge fan of their music.
Admittedly, I was a little too hyped over the intro. I swear that this silly montage was one of my favorite things at the time. I just kept watching that sequence over and over. However, it was one of the most incredible adrenaline trips I had ever witnessed.
I even downloaded the song because none of the record stores in my neighborhood were selling the single. I should have just stopped my search. It was only available on an extremely rare single from the Manic Street Preachers, a British band that wasn't even popular in America. The song had me madly addicted to techno music.
As time went on, I grew out of touch with the series. The only intro that ever came close to matching the epic atmosphere of Gran Turismo was Gran Turismo 2. The sequel had music from The Cardigans, but it was way too easy to find that song on their album, also named Gran Turismo. To make matters worse, the sequel had a worse framerate than the first game.
Perhaps I'm just a big snob when it comes to watching racing montages. Yet, I'm convinced that there was something magical about that intro sequence in Gran Turismo. It really proved that racing games really could look and sound as cool as the real thing. It had a strange sexiness that I can't find in other racing releases.
Maybe someday I'll buy a new Gran Turismo title to bring back the memories of racing through the streets without getting a scratch on my car. However, nothing will ever replace the first epic intro that hooked me. For the record, I really hope the Chemical Brothers make that remix available for download. It really is the music that legends are made of.