Driven to play again

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

Nick ex­plains why this 8-bit BBC Mi­cro game was so much bet­ter than the Atari 2600 al­ter­na­tive

» BBC Mi­cro » 1984 » Su­pe­rior Soft­ware it’s hard to shake your first love, and the atari 2600 is that con­sole for me. I’ll hap­pily play the likes of Com­bat, War­lords, Pit­fall! and River Raid to pass the time – but un­for­tu­nately, the same can’t be said for Street Racer. De­spite the fact that the ba­sic na­ture of Atari 2600 games is a large part of their unique charm, Street Racer man­ages to be a lit­tle bit too ba­sic for my taste.

At first glance, Over­drive is a mil­lion miles ahead of Street Racer – the colour­ful dis­play and the 3D per­spec­tive both re­mind me of Pole Po­si­tion. How­ever, you’ll no­tice that the road here is straight. That’s be­cause the road in Over­drive is al­ways straight. Es­sen­tially, this means that your only goal is to avoid the rac­ers you’re ac­cel­er­at­ing past, mak­ing it very sim­i­lar to Street Racer. The main dif­fer­ence is that you can ad­vance to a new level if you over­take enough cars within the time limit, giv­ing you a new back­ground to ad­mire and harder cars to pass.

The com­bi­na­tion of slightly pret­tier vi­su­als and a mi­nor re­ward for do­ing well is all it took for me to be­come in­vested in do­ing well at Over­drive. If I need to over­take ef­fi­ciently to see that next back­drop, I’ll prac­tice un­til I get it just right, but I still won’t touch the fun­da­men­tally sim­i­lar Atari game. The di­vid­ing line be­tween ‘dull and ba­sic’ and ‘sim­ple but com­pelling’ is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily thin one at times – and I find that fas­ci­nat­ing.

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