Friday, October 18, 2013

Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin'

John Marine | 4:45 PM | | |
If you love simulation racing games, you might want to thank Atari. Why? In 1988, one of the most difficult, yet most realistic racing/driving games was created- Hard Drivin'. That game would be followed up in 1990 by Race Drivin'. Both games featured unforgiving driving dynamics that were unlike any other game of its kind in its time. It did not have the high-speed thrills of the Pole Position series or the fun-to-drive appeal of the OutRun games. Despite all of this, both Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' represented two of the most realistic racing/driving games ever made. This blog post offers a look at both of these games.





--- Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' ---

Both of these games offer driving experiences unsurpassed for their time. They may not have the fun factor future racing games (and even some of the racing/driving games before them) may have, but they were very much unforgiving and real. Neither Hard Drivin' nor Race Drivin' were actually "racing" games. Performance driving is involved, but you don't do any real racing against a pack of cars. Perhaps unique to the sim racing aspect is racing from the interior view. All you get is an interior view. The only time you get any kind of exterior view is after a crash. Once you crash, a dramatic instant replay of you getting owned plays. Really, both Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' were two of the first-ever fully 3D racing games of their time.

The simulation driving aspect goes from when you start the car to when your experience is over. Wait... start the car? That's right! You have to turn the key to start the car. You then floor the gas and go. In Manual/Standard transmission, you need to turn the key as well as shift to 1st Gear. You have to repeat this process even if you escape from a crash.

The goal of these two games was to set a qualifying time around a course to compete in a bonus event. You will have a good amount of time to post the fastest time you can possibly muster. Clear the checkpoints to allow for extended time. With each course, you have a certain par time that you must clear if you want to extend your experience. If you successfully clear the par time, you will be challenged to a one-lap race against the champion of that course. Beat the champ's time to establish yourself as a master. To do so, however, one crash disqualifies you. You also are allowed only so much time off the course. Good luck!

Now for a look at the individual games:


Hard Drivin' (1988).

Hard Drivin' is a game that is hard to appreciate if you've never seen or played it before. Only one course was offered with two routes for you to take. You can choose between Automatic transmission or Manual/Standard transmission. The rest is all up to you to try to land the fastest time around each course.

Here is a video demonstration of Hard Drivin':


^ Hard Drivin' Gameplay for Arcade

Now on to the other game...


Race Drivin' (1990).

Race Drivin' is essentially the same game as Hard Drivin', but Race Drivin' offers a choice of cars as well as a choice of tracks. You could choose between three different courses in Race Drivin'. Here is a description of each:

• The original Stunt course from Race Drivin' can be selected. This is a course that features two different routes- a Speed track and a Stunt track. Of the three offered tracks, the original course from Race Drivin' is the only one that has traffic on the road.

• The Autocross track is a simple course in a desert setting with little or no elevation changes. It is purely straightforward. If you are trying to have the best chance of clearing any course, I would personally recommend you race the Autocross course.

• Race Drivin' offers its ultimate challenge to gamers- the Super Stunt Track. Here, you are given the game's longest track with the most treacherous obstacles. You deserve loads of praise if you are able to clear a lap of this course without a single crash. It is the only night race.


In addition to a choice of tracks, you have a choice of four cars to choose from. Only one of them has Automatic transmission. The other three cars have Manual/Standard transmission. Racing in Manual/Standard is tougher because you have to not only turn the key, but also make sure you are in 1st Gear even after a crash.

• The only car offered in both Automatic (there is only one) and Manual/Standard is this Ferrari-looking sports car called the Sportster.

• The Roadster is only offered in Manual/Standard transmission. Take advantage of its nimble handling characteristics.

• The final car is the Speedster, which as its name implies, is quite fast. It is only offered in Manual/Standard transmission.


The goal of Race Drivin' is the same as in Hard Drivin'- complete a quick lap around a course to qualify for a one-lap race against the champ of that course. Afterwards, try to beat the track's champion to become the new champion and master of the track. Here is a video demonstration of Race Drivin' below (best I could find):


^ Race Drivin' (Gameplay) MIDWAY ARCADE TREASURES 3

Again... there aren't too many fundamental differences between Race Drivin' and Hard Drivin'.



--- What to Learn from Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' ---

I think anyone who even loves racing games should at least give a nod to Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin'. The biggest reason why is because both games were really the table-setters for future simulation-type racing games... including the likes of Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' both lacked a fun-to-play factor and seemed incredibly slow. However, these two games should be commended for being two of the most intense sim racing games ever created. Future sim racers only enhanced and built upon and expanded upon the model set by the likes of Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin'. Future sim racers only enhanced the speed and realism while also making various improvements to make racing and driving realistic.

Regardless, don't overlook Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' among the most influential and most important racing/driving games of all time. Both titles are worthy of praise for what they brought to gaming as well as to racing/driving games in general. I honestly didn't think highly of Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin' until I really thought about what both games brought to racing games in general. What you just read in this blog post is a mix of what both games brought to the genre based on what I think bought games brought.





I hope you enjoyed this blog post about two games that really should get more recognition for what they brought to racing games. What do you think about these two titles? Comment away and thank you for reading!

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