Driven to play again
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.