With driving games--specifically, street-racing games--being the most oft-developed genre on the PSP, it's nice when a developer tries to turn the trend on its head and do something a little different. Unfortunately, in the case of Konami and developer Genki's Street Supremacy, different did not amount to good. Known primarily for its work on the long-running Tokyo Xtreme Racer series, Genki has taken its inviolable franchise and shrunk it down for the purposes of handheld racing. Unfortunately, the shrinking process has managed to rob the already aging Xtreme Racing formula of the few remaining enjoyable components it had, and what you're left with is a patently tedious racer that revolves more around you skipping through menus and sitting through loading screens than it does actual racing. Not to mention that Street Supremacy includes quite possibly the most perplexing and seemingly broken ad-hoc multiplayer mode we've ever seen on the PSP.
There's a modicum of uniqueness to Street Supremacy's design, but the racing is so worthless that that uniqueness is quickly squashed.
The whole crux of the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series had been about you, a lone driver, cruising the various freeways of Tokyo, seeking out other like-minded racers to compete against. Typically you'd be able to free-roam around the highways, specifically seeking out opponents. You can't do that in Street Supremacy. The main story mode is called the team rumble mode. Here, you buy your first car, and sign up with one of several racing posses milling about the Tokyo freeway system. Once you've joined your clique, you're told by the leader of your team (or at least his car--you never actually talk to people in this game...just cars) that you've got to compete against other rival drivers to up your rep and help the team earn new territory.
In this respect, Street Supremacy is almost more like a street-racing strategy RPG than a pure racer. That sounds completely insane and kind of awesome on paper, but the way in which this all works out within the context of this game pretty much sucks away all the fun immediately. The process goes something like this: You're presented with a grid that shows all the different territories occupied by the different racing crews. You can travel to any one of them and race against the other racers in the area. Winning these races helps you earn cash for car upgrades, as well as experience to level up your ride. Every car has a level associated with it, and like in a typical RPG, if you try to go up against too high a level of an opponent, you'll get smoked handily. Once you've defeated all the racers in your chosen area that are within range of your current level, there's nothing else you can do that day, and your best bet is just to go back to the game's garage area, which consequently ends your racing day. After that, you go back, choose another area, repeat the process, and keep doing this until you've leveled all you can level.
Periodically, these various level-grinding races are broken up with ranking battles and team battles. Ranking battles are simply races you engage in to up your rank within your own team. Once you've beaten everyone else, you can then race the team leader. Beat him, and you can lead the squad. Team races are elimination bouts of five versus five, where the last team with racers left standing is declared the winner. The only way you can engage in a team battle is if the opposing team is weak enough. If their dominance rating is shown as weak, you can go after them, and if you win the team battle, your team takes over their territory.
Again, this all sounds kind of interesting in theory, but the actual racing in Street Supremacy is so markedly bad, that it completely negates any desire to continue on with this process. The races use the same sort of formula that the Tokyo Xtreme Racer games did. You and another racer each have something of a health bar that appears at the top of the screen. The racer who falls behind starts having their health drained as time goes on. The funny joke about this system is that it basically makes the vast majority of races take no longer than 30 seconds to a minute, tops. You either fall hopelessly behind, or start out somewhat behind, overtake your opponent, and then speed off, never to be caught again. All the courses in this game do have a finish line of sorts, but you'll only ever stay close enough to an opponent one out of every six dozen races or so. Couple this lame system with cars that handle turns about as well as a brick on wheels, and you're going to have next to no fun with this game's driving mechanics.