Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown’s Disastrous Demo

They’ve already lost me

Alex Rowe
8 min readJun 17, 2024
Two women talk with one another in front of a rock wall in Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown.
This is really what this game looks like on high settings. Oh no. I guess the hair looks kind of good? Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown screenshot taken by the author.

Back in 2006, the original Test Drive Unlimited essentially created the modern large scale open world racing genre. It offered over a thousand miles of roads to drive set within an impressive-for-the-time recreation of O’ahu. It also made racing games feel more personal and human, with a player-created avatar that could wear different items of clothing and interact with the game world beyond just driving cars around.

It was an extremely chill and good time, and it’s a game that I look back on very fondly. Current racing juggernauts Forza Horizon and The Crew trace a direct lineage back to this game, with the latter even sharing many of the same key creative staff. Other franchises like Need for Speed also moved in a more open direction, with larger and larger worlds offering more challenges. Unlimited was a deeply innovative reinvention of a long-running driving franchise that had a lasting impact on the industry — and then it kind of disappeared.

Maybe it should have stayed in the past.

A few years ago, well over a decade after the last release in the series, Nacon announced they were bringing the Test Drive Unlimited franchise back alongside a new developer in Kylotonn Games. They’ve made a bunch of weird janky stuff you probably haven’t…

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Alex Rowe

I write about gaming, tech, music, and their industries. I have a background in video production, and I used to review games for a computer magazine.