Review: Indy 500 (Atari 2600)

In this review, we find ourselves going in circles as we play the Atari 2600 game Indy 500. We find out how well this racing game plays.

This game was released in 1977. It is one of the launch titles for the system.

There are a number of one and two player races. The first two revolve around a sideways hourglass course. For these circuit courses, the goal differs between one and two player races. In one player races, you complete as many laps as possible within a minute. In two player races, the first to 25 laps win.

There are also sort of flag capture races where players are on an arena and must collect as many dots as possible.

The third kind of race are the tag races. These races are two players only. The flashing car is the one that is “it”. The “it” player must tag the other player so that the other player is “it”. The rules may be open-ended in that you can either say the first person to 99 seconds loses or the first person to 99 seconds wins. In the case of the latter, the player who is not flashing is “it”. Either way, the game ends when a player reaches 99 seconds.

The final set of courses are ice courses. Same rules apply as the regular circuit courses. The only difference is that the track is slippery and extra care needs to be taken when going around corners.

The interesting element about the arena courses is the fact that they have entrances and exits. If a player wants to, they can enter one side and then exit from the other. The courses, in that way, wraps between the top and bottom.

One complaint I have is that the tag system is a little buggy. You could tag someone, but because the cars tend to overlap, you might find yourself being re-tagged before making your escape.

Another thing is the fact that cars may being moving too fast in this game. The reason is that it is far too easy to hit walls and reaction times are limited – especially in the second circuit course. If the cars were slower, the window of reaction time would increase and the game would be a bit more manageable.

Otherwise, this game does have a number of different games to keep things interesting. It’s more than possible to get some entertainment value out of this – especially with two players. Sure, the cars do move too quickly for reaction times and the tag system is somewhat flawed, but it is otherwise not bad.

Graphics are fairly reasonable for the time. The problem I have is with the ice stages where the contrast in colors aren’t enough. Otherwise, the graphics are pretty decent.

The engine sounds work pretty well. It’s interesting how they vary in different stages. The crashing sounds are sufficient and the beeps work pretty well.

Overall, this isn’t a bad game. The game does share little resemblance to an actual Indy 500, but it does have racing at least. The tag system is somewhat flawed and the cars move a bit too quickly. Still, the arena courses are interesting with the warp points on the sides and the number of different games do keep things interesting for a while. Still, this game is ideally played with two players. Pretty decent for the time.

Furthest point in game: No real “furthest point” in this one, but I did try most of the different games.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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