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Street Racer
Box artwork for Street Racer.
Developer(s) Atari
Publisher(s) Atari
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action
System(s) Atari 2600
Players 1-2
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Street Racer was one of the nine Atari 2600 titles that launched with the system in 1977. It contains six different games that are similar to one another, in that they take place in side by side alley ways. In "Street Racer" you must see who can pass the most cars. In "Slalom" you are aiming to ski between the most gates. "Dodgem" is the only game in which you leave the bottom of the screen, attempting to dodge boulders as you proceed. You have to destroy the most Jets in "Jet Shooter", and collect numbers the fastest in "Number Cruncher". And finally, in "Scoop Ball" you must first pick up a ball, and successfully deliver it without getting hit. All of the games are played for two minutes and 16 seconds, and can be played by one to four players.

Unlike some of the other Atari 2600 launch titles, Street Racer does not appear to be based off any contemporary Atari arcade games that existed at the time of its release. However, one could draw a connection between the Dodgem game and a very early discreet logic game by Atari known as Space Race, made in 1973. However, when Atari signed a distribution deal with Sears that allowed Sears to market Atari product under Sears' own Telegames label, Atari made several dedicated machines (such as Pong) that were exclusive to Sears. Two such machines were "Speedway" and "Speedway IV," which contained similar styles of racing games. Unsurprisingly, Sears released this cartridge as Speedway II under their Telegames label.

Since Street Racer was controlled by the Paddle Controllers, and the Paddle Controllers came two to a connection, Street Racer allowed for up to four people to play together at the same time, which in 1977, was quite an accomplishment. When more than two people played at a time, the third and fourth players shared a lane with the first and second players respectively, requiring the players to work together as a team.

Controls[edit]

Console[edit]

  • Color/BW: Switch between color display and black & white display. (This feature made the game look better on black & white TVs that were still prominent at the time of the game's release.)
  • Left/Right Difficulty Switch: When set to B, the left/right player does not suffer a penalty to their score if they collide with an object. If the switch is set to A, the player will lose one point from their score for every collision.
  • Game Select: Select a game variation. The variations cycle from 1 to 27 and start back over at 1. See the Game Variation section below.
  • Game Reset: Starts a new game in whatever game variation is currently selected. Both players' scores are reset to 0, and the timer starts over.
  • Paddle Controller: In every game, twist the dial on the top of the paddle controller to move the position of your car or other on-screen object left or right.
  • Controller Button: The button has a different function for each type of game:
    • Street Racer: Accelerate your car (makes the other cars approach you faster).
    • Slalom: Accelerate your skis (makes the slalom gates approach you faster).
    • Dodgem: Propel your truck towards the top of the screen. Releasing the button causes the car to drop back down until it reaches the bottom.
    • Jet Shooter: Fire a rocket from your helicopter.
    • Number Cruncher: Accelerate your motorcycle (makes the numbers approach you faster).
    • Scoop Ball: Accelerate your scoop (makes the other objects approach you faster).

Note:Unlike many Atari 2600 games, the first player is intended to use the right side controller, as the computer uses the left side during a computer-competition game.

Game Variations[edit]

Street Racer[edit]

Street Racer

The Street Racer games (game variations 1 through 6) feature one or two cars in each lane. The object is to pass as many other cars on the race way as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You score one point for every car that you pass. The game will end early as soon as one car or team of cars scores 99 points. Press and hold the controller button to increase the speed at which the cars pass you. If you collide with any cars, your speed is reduced to zero, and you must accelerate to resume your normal speed. Opponent cars swerve back and forth in your lane. Since opponent cars occupy some range of the lane you are in, you are typically safest on either extreme side of the lane. The options for Street Racer include:

  • One to four players.
  • Double frequency opponents.

Number of players: One to four players can play Street Racer. In a one player game (game 1), the right controller is used to control the car in the right lane while the computer automatically accelerates the car in the left lane. Two player games (games 2 and 5) have one player in either lane. Three player games (game 3) have two players in the right lane competing against one player in the left lane. Four player games (games 4 and 6) have teams of two players competing in both lanes.
Opponent frequency: During games 1 through 4, only one opponent car appears in either players lane at any given moment. In games 5 and 6 however, two cars will appear in either lane, evenly paced, increasing the frequency with which you must avoid opponent cars. Do not hold the controller button down all of the time or you are sure to collide with the oncoming cars. Double frequency car games can only be played with two or four players.

Slalom[edit]

Slalom

The Slalom games (game variations 7 through 12) feature one or two sets of skis in each lane. The object is to pass through as many gates on the slopes as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You score one point for every gate that you pass. The game will end early as soon as one skier or team of skiers scores 99 points. Press and hold the controller button to increase the speed at which you approach the gates. If you do not pass through the gate opening, your speed is reduced to zero, and you must accelerate to resume your normal speed. Once a gate appear on the screen, its position will never move. In addition to losing one point for every collision when the difficulty is set to A, the gates also become more narrow. The options for Slalom include:

  • One to four players.
  • Double frequency gates.

Number of players: One to four players can play Slalom. In a one player game (game 7), the right controller is used to control the skis in the right lane while the computer automatically accelerates the skis in the left lane. Two player games (games 8 and 11) have one player in either lane. Three player games (game 9) have two players in the right lane competing against one player in the left lane. Four player games (games 10 and 12) have teams of two players competing in both lanes.
Gate frequency: During games 7 through 10, only one gate appears in either players lane at any given moment. In games 11 and 12 however, two gates will appear in either lane, evenly paced, increasing the frequency with which you must pass through them. Do not hold the controller button down all of the time or you are sure to miss a gate opening. Double frequency gate games can only be played with two or four players.

Dodgem[edit]

Dodgem

The Dodgem games (game variations 13 through 16) feature one truck in each lane. The object is to drive to the top of the screen as many times as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You score one point every time you pass through the top of the screen. The game will end early as soon as one player scores 99 points. Press and hold the controller button to advance your truck to the top of the screen. As you do, boulders will fall down the pathway, rhythmically bouncing between both sides of the lane. If you hit one of these boulders, your truck will instantly return to the bottom of the screen. Once you reach the top of the screen, your truck will automatically return to the bottom of the screen and continue. Some latitude is given to players who return to the bottom when the boulder is in the way. The options for Dodgem include:

  • One or two players.
  • Double frequency boulders.

Number of players: Only one or two players can play Dodgem. In a one player game (game 13 and 15), the right controller is used to control the truck in the right lane while the computer automatically advances the truck in the left lane. Two player games (games 14 and 16) have each player controlling a truck in either lane.
Boulder frequency: During games 13 and 14, only one boulder appears in either players lane at any given moment. In games 15 and 16 however, two boulders will appear in either lane, evenly paced, increasing the frequency with which you must avoid them.

Jet Shooter[edit]

Jet Shooter

The Jet Shooter games (game variations 17 through 20) feature one helicopter in each lane. The object is to destroy as many enemy fighter jets as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You score one point every time you shoot down a jet. The game will end early as soon as one player scores 99 points. Press the controller button to fire an anti-aircraft missile towards the top of the screen. You may only fire off one rocket at a time, and must wait until the rocket either hits a jet, or travels off the top of the screen before you can fire another one. While you play, enemy jet fighters will fly down the lane, automatically accelerating on their own beyond your control. If you collide with one of the enemy jet fighters, their speed will reduce to zero and automatically resume acceleration. The options for Jet Shooter include:

  • One or two players.
  • Double frequency jets.

Number of players: Only one or two players can play Jet Shooter. In a one player game (game 17 and 19), the right controller is used to control the helicopter in the right lane while the computer automatically fires rockets for the helicopter in the left lane. Two player games (games 18 and 20) have each player controlling a helicopter in either lane.
Jet frequency: During games 17 and 18, only one fighter jet appears in either players lane at any given moment. In games 19 and 20 however, two fighter jets will appear in either lane, evenly paced, increasing the frequency with which you must fire at them, or avoid them.

Number Cruncher[edit]

Number Cruncher

The Number Cruncher games (game variations 21 through 24) feature one or two motorcycles in each lane. The object is to drive over as many numbers as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You earn the same number of points as the numbers you drive over, 2, 4, or 6. The numbers will always appear two at a time, evenly paced. The game will end early as soon as one motorcycle or team of motorcycles scores 99 points. Press and hold the controller button to increase the speed at which you approach the numbers. In order to collect the numbers properly, you must hit them with the tip of your bike. If you collide with the numbers in any other way, your speed is reduced to zero, and you must accelerate to resume your normal speed. The options for Number Cruncher include:

  • One to four players.

Number of players: One to four players can play Street Racer. In a one player game (game 21), the right controller is used to control the motorcycle in the right lane while the computer automatically accelerates the motorcycle in the left lane. Two player games (games 22) have one player in either lane. Three player games (game 23) have two players in the right lane competing against one player in the left lane. Four player games (games 24) have teams of two players competing in both lanes.

Scoop Ball[edit]

Scoop Ball

The Scoop Ball games (game variations 25 through 27) feature one or two scoops in each lane. The object is to deposit as many balls into ball receivers as possible in two minutes and 16 seconds. You earn one point for every ball that you pick up, and three points every time you deliver balls to a receiver. The game will end early as soon as one scoop or team of scoops scores 99 points. Press and hold the controller button to increase the speed of your scoop. One of three objects will appear in both lanes, one at a time; a ball, a block, or a receiver. Once you collide with a ball, your scoop will change shape. You can continue to collect any balls that come along. Once you deliver the balls to a receiver, your scoop will return to its normal shape. If you collide with any blocks, your speed is reduced to zero, and you must accelerate to resume your normal speed. If you were holding a ball when you collide, you will lose the ball. The options for Scoop Ball include:

  • Two to four players.

Number of players: Two to four players can play Street Racer. Two player games (games 25) have one player in either lane. Three player games (game 26) have two players in the right lane competing against one player in the left lane. Four player games (games 27) have teams of two players competing in both lanes. Scoop Ball can technically be played by one player in game 25, but there is no official one player option where the computer accelerates the left side.