Reviews: Slot Racers (Atari 2600)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out an Atari 2600 game called Slot Racers. We find out if this lesser known town down vehicular combat/action game is worth checking out.

Slot Racers was released for the Atari 2600 in 1978.

The game pits one human player against each other. Contrary to what the title suggests, this is actually not a racing game. In fact, it’s actually a vehicular combat game. Why this game was still names Slot Racers (as it suggests that this would be a slot car racing game, or maybe even just a racing game in the first place), I’m not entirely sure.

Essentially, you have one fixed maze for you to drive around in. There is no reversing, though you can slow down your car by pulling back on the control stick and accelerating again by pushing the control stick forward. You can tell which direction the car is wanting to go by looking at the front two pixels of the vehicle. While it doesn’t really help with the graphics, it does add a level of user friendliness to the game. If you can only go straight and you push to turn to the left, you can see where the vehicle intends to go at least. So, I’ll give props to that.

The way you battle your human opponent is via the main weapon. You can only fire one bullet at a time, but bullets can turn around corners. In addition, bullets travel faster than the top speed of your vehicle, but only by a little. So, if you are being chased by a “bullet”, then you still have a chance to quickly turn down a different corridor, avoiding it altogether. If you fire again, the bullet currently on screen disappears and you generate a new bullet starting from your vehicle.

If you manage to successfully shoot your opponent, you gain a point. The bullet also pushes the opponent down the corridor their on for a short distance, but at a considerable speed. The first player to 25 points wins. Personally, I thought that a better point system could have been implemented. 25 points is a lot considering how somewhat slow paced this game can be. I would have thought it would have been better to have a system where the first to 5 or 7 points wins a match. Then, have the match system set up so that it’s a best of either 3 or 5. I think that would have spiced up the game more than just merely having a “first to 25 points wins” system since it’s such a long haul that way.

Graphically, this game wasn’t that great. You only have the one maze and the pixels are hideously big. I know the Atari 2600 is capable of higher resolution than what is being offered in this game. The vehicles only barely look like vehicles. Some of the “demo” colors actually look better than the in-game color pallet. Even if there were added brown blocks to simulate mud, grey to simulate road and light blue to simulate ice, it would have been an improvement over the two toned color system seen here. So, graphics leave a lot to be desired here.

The sound effects were surprisingly decent, though. There’s a decent interpretation of brakes and an explosion. Arguably, the sound effects were actually a strong point. No music is in this game, though.

Overall, this game had a feeling of being half finished. A little more thought into what this game could be would have made this a great game. Unfortunately, in it’s current state, it becomes a little drawn out even though there can be excitement to be had with the two player play. So, while passable in my view, it doesn’t go much beyond that.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Not that it really counts, but I got up to the 25 point win limit just to see how many points is required to win in this game.

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 3/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 54%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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