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The problem with 2600 racing games

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Just a little rant here. I know they're not realistic but what always drives me crazy is how the other cars are apparently going 25 MPH. Look at something like Grand Prix, you're always slamming into the back of these granny drivers. Would be nice if a game existed where the other cars were just slightly slower so you could overtake them or steer around them instead of them just suddenly flying onto the screen. End of rant,

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I agree(slamming into Granny Drivers). I love (or want to love) racing games (Pole Position, etc.), but it is almost impossible NOT to slam your fellow Grannies in the rear (or slide off the track into a sign). But, we keep coming back for more.

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I agree(slamming into Granny Drivers). I love (or want to love) racing games (Pole Position, etc.), but it is almost impossible NOT to slam your fellow Grannies in the rear (or slide off the track into a sign). But, we keep coming back for more.

 

Well Grand Prix just looks so damn nice with those giant cars

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I've always thought most driving games on the 2600 were really well done for what they are. All things considered (being an early system and all), hard pressed to find real "fault" with most anyway. Some of my all time favs include:

Pole Position - game is so well done, we'd actually play this on our Uncles' Colecovision through the Atari adapter BITD. lol

 

Sprintmaster - okay with the joystick, but should have had the Indy 500 rotary controller option built in.

 

Enduro - excellent racer as-is.

 

Street Racer - might be another "slam grandma from the rear" game, but besides beating time, that really was the 'challenge' back then. Not slamming grandma of course, but getting around cars FTW!

 

Indy 500 - pretty darned good and need to try the hacked courses version soon.

 

Night Driver - it is what it is... close arcade port actually. lol

 

Dodge 'Em and Slot Racers - fun for a few rounds anyway.

 

Spy Hunter and Bump 'n Jump - okay, we're stretching a bit as far as "racing" games go, but excellent for what they are play really well.

 

 

 

For whatever reason(s), never got into Motocross, Motorodeo or Motocross Racer. Might have to revisit them.

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Just a little rant here. I know they're not realistic but what always drives me crazy is how the other cars are apparently going 25 MPH. Look at something like Grand Prix, you're always slamming into the back of these granny drivers. Would be nice if a game existed where the other cars were just slightly slower so you could overtake them or steer around them instead of them just suddenly flying onto the screen. End of rant,

I think Enduro plays a lot like you described. Other than when there's snow you have a good chance of steering around the other cars and they only slow you down slightly if you collide.

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I agree. But to your point, I don't think a true "racing game" actually exists on the 2600. Almost all of the games listed above are just timed obstacle courses that just happen to have cars in them. I think this was already discussed in another thread - Grand Prix is just Barnstorming with cars, which in turn is just horizontal Sky Jinks, which is the same as Skiing with planes. The cars/barns/balloons/trees are only there to be in your way and to slow you down as you try to beat the clock, they're not competing with you in any way. Whether they're moving or not doesn't really matter, you just need to memorize their patterns.

 

As you said, a true racing game would need to feature cars that are almost as fast or as fast as yours, and that don't just disappear into oblivion once you overtake them, but that could come back and overtake you again if you slow down. I'm not a programmer so I don't know if something like that would be possible on the 2600, e.g. a race where you are one of six cars, each with its individual driving style and AI, and where the 2600 keeps track of where the other five cars are relative to yours.

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Such a game seems doable. Even with individual driving style and adjusting the AI to the player. But even remotely realistic physics are a different beast.

 

BTW: I suppose Grand Prix could be easily hacked to make the other cars faster. But since you take away the obstacles then (as Wolf just described) the game would probably become just boring then.

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Such a game seems doable. Even with individual driving style and adjusting the AI to the player. But even remotely realistic physics are a different beast.

 

 

That sounds intriguing. Even without realistic physiscs such a game could be fun. I'm thinking Pole Position, but instead of randomly appearing cars that you just pass to beat the clock, you have five distinct opponents, each with a different color car and skill level. There is a defined track with a start/finish line, and the computer keeps track of where each car is and how many laps it has completed. At the end of a defined number of laps it tells you whether you came in first or third, etc. and your lap time, and then it resets with faster and more skillful opponents. The game ends when you don't make at least third place. Do you think something like that would be doable?

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Racing games on the 2600 are among my favorite games.

 

Enduro, Pole Position, Indy 500, Bump N Jump, and Night Driver are all great games and sure, the realism more often than not is unrealistic as video games generally are, but learning how to play it well is the fun and challenge and that's why we all play.

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Racing games on the 2600 are among my favorite games.

 

Enduro, Pole Position, Indy 500, Bump N Jump, and Night Driver are all great games and sure, the realism more often than not is unrealistic as video games generally are, but learning how to play it well is the fun and challenge and that's why we all play.

 

No argument there, all of those games are a lot of fun. Indy 500 is one of my favorite games of all time, the only problem being that despite owning it for years, I've only played it about 5 times in my life because I never have a second player to play it with. I had really high hopes for Sprintmaster and thought it might finally be a one-player Indy 500, but maneuvering that blocky car around tight curves with a joystick is no fun at all. It's beyond me why they didn't support the racing controller for that game.

 

Anyway, my point is that none of those are "real" racing games. If, as Thomas said, such a racing game with AI opponents is possible on the 2600, I wonder why none of the big game developers came out with one back in the day. With all the racing game aficionados out there I'm sure it would have been a big hit.

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Racing games for generations after this basically were the same. The opposing vehicles were obstacles, rather than competitors. For every Super Off-Road, we probably had 4 or 5 games where the AI were just drones.

 

It's only fairly recently that I've started to see some impressive AI on console titles. In some of the more recent F1 releases from Codemasters for instance, the AI is pretty good at overtaking maneuvers where as in years past in earlier F1 titles, they basically followed a pre-determined line and the AI generally was either way too slow or way too good.

Edited by Atariboy

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I still play them and Enduro esp. with the seasons is a lot of fun, I just sometimes wish the cars didn't come shooting out of the distance like they were standing still. I mean in Enduro you have to pass like 100 cars. Are they all just driving 25MPH and texting? :P

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It is called Enduro after all. There's a wide speed disparity in real-life endurance races as well.

 

Just think of it as you're driving a prototype stuck among a bunch of slower GT cars.

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It is called Enduro after all. There's a wide speed disparity in real-life endurance races as well.

 

Just think of it as you're driving a prototype stuck among a bunch of slower GT cars.

 

Well Atari games do require a bit of imagination. I guess I could lay off the pedal a bit but whoever goes less than top speed when playing? I'm gonna have to do some racing today.

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Well Atari games do require a bit of imagination. I guess I could lay off the pedal a bit but whoever goes less than top speed when playing? I'm gonna have to do some racing today.

 

You don't have to lay off the gas pedal, again, think of it like I said (And how I'm sure the programmer intended).

 

Endurance racing involves multiple classes on-track simultaneously, with an overall winner at the end of the day along with class winners. The fastest class at say the 24 Hours of Le Mans each June (which are the LMP1 prototypes from Audi and such) will be lapping the same track around 50 seconds a lap faster than the slowest GT car in the field that's on-track at the same time.

 

There's nothing unrealistic in Enduro where this aspect of being much faster than most of the traffic around you is concerned.

 

 

Neither is there anything unrealistic with the weather and cycling through a full 24 hours, which is also trying to be reminiscent of Le Mans or the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

 

They did a very admirable job actually of adapting a real-life style of event and many of its elements into an arcade style racer on such an underpowered console.

Edited by Atariboy
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How about a Mario Kart style game using the Ballblazer engine? That would be awesome.

Edited by roryjr

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Endurance racing involves multiple classes on-track simultaneously, with an overall winner at the end of the day along with class winners. The fastest class at say the 24 Hours of Le Mans each June (which are the LMP1 prototypes from Audi and such) will be lapping the same track around 50 seconds a lap faster than the slowest GT car in the field that's on-track at the same time.

 

There's nothing unrealistic in Enduro where this aspect of being much faster than most of the traffic around you is concerned.

Agreed. But in Enduro the slower cars frequently change track, which doesn't happen in LeMans. Because when it happens it often causes severe crashes.

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How about a Mario Kart style game using the Ballblazer engine? That would be awesome.

 

 

Thought a little more on this. The Ballblazer engine doesn't rotate. Has anyone made an engine that rotates?

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Agreed. But in Enduro the slower cars frequently change track, which doesn't happen in LeMans. Because when it happens it often causes severe crashes.

 

And they also explode out of the horizon. Pole Position seems to have it right where you can see a car in the distance and have time to react

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I've always thought most driving games on the 2600 were really well done for what they are. All things considered (being an early system and all), hard pressed to find real "fault" with most anyway. Some of my all time favs include:

 

Pole Position - game is so well done, we'd actually play this on our Uncles' Colecovision through the Atari adapter BITD. lol

 

Sprintmaster - okay with the joystick, but should have had the Indy 500 rotary controller option built in.

 

Enduro - excellent racer as-is.

 

Street Racer - might be another "slam grandma from the rear" game, but besides beating time, that really was the 'challenge' back then. Not slamming grandma of course, but getting around cars FTW!

 

Indy 500 - pretty darned good and need to try the hacked courses version soon.

 

Night Driver - it is what it is... close arcade port actually. lol

 

Dodge 'Em and Slot Racers - fun for a few rounds anyway.

 

Spy Hunter and Bump 'n Jump - okay, we're stretching a bit as far as "racing" games go, but excellent for what they are play really well.

 

 

 

For whatever reason(s), never got into Motocross, Motorodeo or Motocross Racer. Might have to revisit them.

 

 

You forgot Fatal Run - a fun game!

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Sprintmaster - okay with the joystick, but should have had the Indy 500 rotary controller option built in.

:idea: I did a hack for this.

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It wouldn't be any fun if they held their line and weren't traveling at a fraction of your speed. :)

 

Even in modern sims, concessions for entertainment are regularly made. Take iRacing for instance, you can't ever really stall your car no matter what you do. Nobody (Well, almost nobody, since I'd like to see it) would want to have to fight with restarting a stalled car or have their race just ended since the car they're racing doesn't have an onboard starter in real-life.

Edited by Atariboy

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