Night Driver

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-07-02


Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1979 Also On: None

In the competition for the most simplistic among the Atari 2600's games, Night Driver must be near the top of the list. Graphically nothing more than a car, two strings of white lines, and an occasional piece of scenery by the side of the road or other car on the road, Atari nonetheless managed to make it a fairly engaging racing game.

The concept of this game is simple. You control a car. You drive this car, trying to avoid hitting the sides of the road or other cars that may be on the road. You do this until you run out of time, and you accumulate points depending on how far you go. Hitting the side of the road or another car will cause your car to stop.

Aesthetically, this game is nothing to get excited about. As I said in the introduction, there is a car, animated with fairly large pixels and all the same color. The sides of the road are shown with strings of white lines, also animated with fairly large pixels. Other cars on the road and the occasional piece of scenery are also shown with the same size pixels. But for 1978, this was nothing less than par for the course. On the sound front, I think there's one significant sound effect, a crashing sound when you hit something. Your car doesn't do anything to indicate it's been damaged, but the sound would make you think it had. Overall, these are typical 1978-level aesthetics, so I have no major complaints about them.

In terms of gameplay, make no mistake about it. This game has a simple concept, but it's difficult to execute. Depending on which setting you have the game on, it'll either curve a lot or it'll curve so insanely that no normal person could possibly keep up. And the white lines move fast, giving a high sense of speed, but also meaning that you have very little time to react to changes in the course of the road. The button is used to accelerate in this game, which is the norm for racing games on the Atari 2600, although it was broken with Pole Position. Boasting nine different play modes, there is a lot to do with this game, although the basic gameplay amounts to the same thing in all of them.

So far as replay value is concerned, trying to get farther in the time limit is about all there is to strive for. And this game can be a bit more frustrating than many other racing games on the Atari 2600. Still, if you're looking for a good challenging racing game on the Atari 2600, Night Driver might be worth looking into. I should make one other note. This game requires a paddle controller, so if you don't have a paddle controller, you'll need to get one before you can play this game.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely