Proposal for Original Gran Turismo Revealed in Kazunori Yamauchi Interview

An interview with Kazunori Yamauchi posted recently to the official PlayStation Blog in Japan has revealed more about the origins of Gran Turismo, including the original concept presentation booklet.

While the interview tilts towards the Gran Turismo movie in the second half — coinciding with the film’s release in cinemas around Japan — the first half focuses on how the first Gran Turismo came about, as it approaches its 26th anniversary.

Of course it’s a story we’ve heard much about on GTPlanet over the years. The young Yamauchi was originally working for Sony Music Entertainment, but moved to the newly formed Sony Computer Entertainment as part of the fledgling PlayStation project.

Gran Turismo — originally just called “Sim Racing — was one of the first proposals written by Yamauchi, but it was a massive undertaking that didn’t get the green light. That resulted in Motor Toon Grand Prix and, with a successful project under his belt, Yamauchi was able to get Gran Turismo underway.

As part of the interview, Yamauchi shared the never-before-seen proposal for Gran Turismo, then labelled as a “Hyper Real Driving Simulator”.

The proposal explains that the target audience for GT is people who like to drive cars, children who would like to drive cars in the future, and people who’d like to drive cars but can’t. It also adds that the game is a response to the racing game market of the day, which had reached a point of stagnation, giving a simulation of sports car life which would appeal to all car enthusiasts.

It’s also interesting to note that the pages shared contain cars we didn’t see in the first game, with the Calibra Touring Car and Lancia Delta HF Integrale shown first appearing in Gran Turismo 2.

However, even once approved, it was hard work. Yamauchi comments that the original development team for GT was just himself, and he had to assemble a team more or less from scratch. He contacted Seiji Toda’s BANDIT Inc. — probably best-known for its Japanese-market localization of Lemmings — to create a demo version of Gran Turismo.

Yamauchi had even resorted to writing to contributors to computing magazines, citing the Sharp-oriented title Oh! MZ/Oh! X. That’s where he discovered Akihiko Tan and Takeshi Yokouchi, both of whom still work on the Gran Turismo series.

After speaking of the difficulty of talking to car manufacturers — again noting that it was Toyota that became the first brand to get on board with Gran Turismo — Yamauchi comments that the situation is very different today.

Stating that car manufacturers are now approaching Polyphony Digital to get their new cars featured, or to design a vehicle for Vision Gran Turismo, Yamauchi muses if that’s because the 20-year olds who played Gran Turismo in the 1990s are now the 45-year olds at the center of the automotive brands.

It’s another fascinating insight into the history of Gran Turismo, revealing some of the challenges involved in creating the first title.

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