The Game: The Videopac puts you in the driver’s seat for a cross-country race. Avoid other cars and obstacles and stay on the road; hitting too many oncoming vehicles causes you to forfeit the race. (Philips, 1983)
Memories: A surprising game on the Videopac G7400+ (the European equivalent of the cancelled Odyssey3 console), Trans-American Rally is an example of a game done almost entirely in the “extended” graphics set. The only hints of the original Odyssey2/Videopac fixed graphics set is the use of the old “triangle” elements to draw the road and to draw any unchanging areas of solid colors (such as the desert on either side of the road). The rest of the graphics are done entirely in the “plus” graphics, and the game looks surprisingly good for anything running on the Videopac platform: it’s on a par with many a TI 99/4a game.
Unfortunately, there can only be one winner in a race, and playability failed to make it to the finish line for Trans-American Rally. The game comes across as tedious more than anything. The approaching obstacles leave too little room to effectively avoid – the player’s fate is sealed by where they are on the screen when the next car appears, never mind where they are when the opponent car is within striking distance.
The big question here: would Trans-American Rally – an oddball European exclusive if there ever was one – have made it to North America if Philips hadn’t cancelled the launch of the Odyssey3 console? It probably would’ve been a matter of time; the game was already available in Europe, so it seems that with minimal work to make it friendlier to the NTSC video system, it would’ve been a launch title contender alongside Flashpoint. In any case, Trans-American Rally is an interesting glimpse into the Odyssey3 library that could’ve been – and even though the fun factor is a bit lacking, it’s also a game that simply couldn’t have been done on the Odyssey2.