Ah, OutRun. A true classic of the “vanishing point” racer genre. A fine example of Sega’s “Super Scaler” technology at work. And, apparently, recipient of an absolutely terrible Atari ST port by Probe and US Gold.
I’ve always been a believer in giving things a fair chance on their own merits, though, and I never played the ST version of OutRun back in the day. I played Turbo OutRun, which was terrible, but never the original.
Time to rectify that, then! Check out the video below to see how I got on, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
It was an exciting time when racing games moved from sprite-based “fake 3D” visuals to full polygonal 3D — and one gets the distinct impression that a lot of developers found the changeover a blessing, too.
For one, we started to see lots more attempts to simulate the experience of racing things other than cars; and many of these developers elected to explore a more “sim-like” approach, too, taking some cues from the well-established flight simulation genre.
One fine example that I hadn’t come across previously is No Second Prize, an impressively speedy motorcycle racing game. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
The “sim racer” has very much become its own distinct thing over the course of the last 20 years or so.
Back in the 16-bit home computer era, the lines between arcade racers and more simulation-like affairs were a little more blurred thanks to the limitations of the technology of the time. And that’s where games like Fast Lane come in, combining old-school “vanishing point” racing with an arcade feel and more simulation-style aspects such as damage, wear and tear and realistic pit stops.
Praised by several publications around the time of its original release, Fast Lane holds up surprisingly well today… although its lack of save functionality means you’d better set a whole day aside if you want to run that whole championship!
Pretty much everyone who plays games can probably name at least one title that they respect, but absolutely can’t abide the thought of playing ever again.
For me, one of those games is Elektra Glide, an incredibly popular title developed by Adam Billyard and published by English Software. It’s a technical tour-de-force for the Atari 8-bit, for sure, featuring spectacularly speedy 3D-style graphics, parallax scrolling, wonderful use of colour and an incredibly memorable soundtrack.
I also despise playing it with almost every fibre of my being; I’d thought returning to it some thirty-two years after its original release might have caused my opinions to mellow on it somewhat, but nope! Still, it sure is pretty…
You know me, I love an arcade racer. And while the Atari 8-bit era was very much a time where this genre was just starting to define itself, there were still some fun, interesting games to enjoy.
Baja Buggies from Gamestar is a game from the early days of the system that I didn’t play that often back in the day, primarily because it was on cassette, and who has time to sit around waiting for those things when you have a US Doubler-equipped 1050 disk drive for high-speed floppy loading goodness? (Said drive died recently, please raise a glass in memoriam. Thank you.)
Anyway. It’s an interesting racer that eschews the Pole Position timers-and-checkpoints formula in favour of an endurance race format: pass 80 opponents before you wreck your buggy or cross the finish line. The desert awaits!
Today’s Atari ST game is a good example of the sort of technically impressive titles that came from the development company Hewson.
Probably best known for their impressive platformer Nebulus (known on some platforms in some regions as Tower Toppler), Hewson was a company that became renowned for its visually striking games, making use of a variety of techniques to provide the illusion of pushing the hardware “beyond its limits”.
Eliminator sees the company turning its hand to the quasi-3D effect of late ’80s racing games… and then layering a brutally challenging bit of shoot ’em up action atop it. I also have fond memories of it for admittedly strange and anecdotal reasons that are little to do with the game itself…
Buggy Boy was one of the first games I played on the Atari ST — and it’s one that still holds up very well today.
The game was originally released in arcades in 1985 by Tatsumi, and is known is some territories as Speed Buggy. Home ports were released over the course of the following few years by prolific developer-publisher Elite, with the 16-bit home computer versions hitting ST and Amiga in 1988.
It’s a single-player checkpoints-and-timer racing game with an emphasis on relatively low-speed, technical driving, which immediately makes it stand out against the many high-speed racers based on the Pole Position mould from the era.
Continue reading Buggy Boy