Earlier in the week I discussed how I acquired a brand-new Atari Lynx II back in the early 1990s. Contrary to popular belief that the Lynx never actually existed and was a figment of our collective imaginations, I can assure you that I did indeed own one.
Today we discuss two more car-based games for the handheld system. Both were adapted from coin-operated arcade versions and were completely different from Checkered Flag discussed previously. The games are APB and RoadBlasters.
APB was an overhead scrolling, police chase game. The term APB is police speak for All Points Bulletin which basically means everyone should be on the lookout for a specific criminal. The goal in APB was to drive around and look for low-level criminals, like speeders, drunk drivers, fits of road rage, etc.
Every once in a while, (I can’t remember the exact time frame, its been a few decades), the chief of police would issue an All Points Bulletin. This would be for a major criminal, like a terrorist or arsonist. These criminals were much hard to apprehend.
But back to the game play. The thing that struck me the most about this game was the semi-open world map. It’s the first driving game I remember where I wasn’t stuck on a specific track like RC Pro-Am, or just following the car from behind like Checkered Flag. There were roads, highways, onramps, and parking lots to explore. The were very basic in design and mainly just scrolled up and down, but there were different routes that could be taken. Plus, at many intersections, it was possible to turn left or right, which would enter a new section of the map.
The game was difficult and most of the time the player was against to the clock to fill a certain quota of criminals to arrest before time ran out. There were time bonuses that of course came in the form of donuts and it was important to make sure the patrol car always had enough fuel. Being an adaptation of an arcade game, the novelty of the game wore off rather quickly and the grind became tiresome. Still, it was a cool concept at the time.
RoadBlasters had a fairly simple premise, full of destruction and mayhem. It was similar in many ways to Spy Hunter, but had some 1941: Counter Attack elements to it. The premise of RodBlasters was to complete a rally (a stage) without running out of fuel. The player’s car was equipped with a gun and could shoot other vehicles (opponents) and roadside gun turrets. All these obstacles were out to destroy the player’s car.
The cool thing about RoadBlasters was the player had unlimited cars to use on each rally – no limited lives. If one blew up, no problem, a new one replaced it. The downside was, each time a new car was required, a bit of fuel was lost so destroying too many cars on a rally meant there was no way it could be completed before the fuel ran out.
The gameplay was manic. It was just a blur of pixels scrolling by, representing a road. A player would swing the car left and right trying to shoot opponents and keep a clear road ahead. Other items were dropped on the road like extra fuel, car destroying mines, and even weapon power-ups that came from an overhead jet.
Being an arcade game originally, the goal of the game wasn’t just about completing the 50 rallies, it was also about achieving the highest score. The more cars shot in succession would create a higher score multiplier. But if the player hit another car or obstacle, the multiplier was reset.
The game was sensory overload, but still a blast (get it? get it?) to play ever once and awhile.