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Night Driver by Atari, Inc. on the Atari 2600

Night Driver is an arcade game developed by Atari Inc for release in the United States in October 1976. Night Driver is one of the earliest first-person racing video games

General Information

Developer - Atari, Inc.

Publisher - Atari, Inc.

Release - 1980

Platform(s) - Atari 2600

Number of Players - Single-player

Genre - Racing

Commonly believed to be one of the first published video games to display real-time first-person graphics.

The player controls a car which must be driven along a road at nighttime without crashing into the sides of the road as indicated by road side reflectors. The game is controlled with a single pedal for the accelerator, a wheel for steering and a four-selection lever for gear shifting. The coin-operated game had a choice of three difficulties (novice, pro and expert), which the player could select at game start. The turns were sharper and more frequent on the more difficult tracks. As play progresses, the road gets narrower and more winding.

The game length could be set by the owner to 50, 75, 100 or 125 seconds. After 300 points, a player is awarded bonus time equal to game time, but the score wraps around back to zero at 1000 points, so it is possible to reach 300 points more than once. Due to the additional points received for more difficult play, playing on the expert setting is actually the easiest to achieve extra time once a player has mastered the game.

The car the player is driving is not actually drawn on-screen. Instead, the car is a printed plastic insert that is laid under the screen. Also, the fact that the car is driving at night made it easier for the programmers to draw the environment with limited graphics at the time, as most features (street, buildings...) didn't need to be drawn because they were supposedly completely dark.


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