The Game: Rev up your engines, put the pedal to the metal, and cruise around a track (which apparently has a nice suburban neighborhood in the middle of it, full of folks who no doubt appreciate the roar of engines zipping around them), trying not to go off the asphalt, and trying even harder not to crash into bushes or buildings. (Curiously, water is less of an obstacle.) (Mattel Electronics, 1980)
Memories: In the early marketing blitz for the Intellivision, the image of Auto Racing‘s shaded rooftops and varied terrain was almost inescapable. The previous standard-bearer for this kind of game had been Atari VCS fare such as Indy 500, and on a graphical level at least, this new Intellivision contraption was on a whole different level.
And that’s a good thing, because it was a real test of the player’s patience to take it on from a game play standpoint. The Intellivision controllers wind up seeming uniquely unsuited to a driving game, and strangely, you have zero control over your car’s speed – it moves at a constant speed unless you hit the brakes or hit something else. It’s like racing with the cruise control set at 40, and amazingly sluggish turn response. I wouldn’t want to drive that car into town – and I can’t think of a single racing video game where I’ve ever laid on the brakes like I did here.
But in the end, Auto Racing helped to serve its purpose – even if there were game play issues, Intellivision certainly looked better than the VCS. It put both players and the competition on notice – big, blocky pixels weren’t going to cut it anymore. (On the flipside, neither would game play like this.)