1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
$34.95 (Out of Stock)
HARD DRIVIN' for the Lynx is an adaptation of the Atari Games arcade racing title. The objective is to drive your performance sports car around a track, while dodging traffic and trying to finish each lap as fast as possible. Also, the track is divided into a speed course and a stunt course, which allow you to go at top speeds or try to survive death-defying jump ramps and banked curves. Race well enough and you can challenge the last champion in a head-to-head duel.
What makes this different, though, is that HARD DRIVIN' is a true driving simulator. You can drive anywhere on the field, and your car has weight, momentum, and inertia, just as in the real world. Turn too hard and the car will skid, which becomes a spinout if you don't countersteer in time. Taking a jump at the wrong speed will result in a fiery collision, and approaching a loop too slowly is certain suicide.
HARD DRIVIN' is a straightforward game. Your sportster has four speeds with reverse, with either an automatic or manual transmission. The action takes place from within your car, complete with working instruments, while the track is drawn with filled 3D polygons. The speed track is mostly flat, with long stretches of curves, while the stunt track offers a drawbridge jump, banked curve, and other dangers.
Surprisingly, game speed is not a problem with this game. One would expect that the complex mathematics of the physics and polygon graphics involved would slow HARD DRIVIN' to a crawl, but it doesn't. While it is not as fast as the home computer and Genesis versions, the speed of the action is not enough of a problem to affect gameplay.
What does anchor HARD DRIVIN' from greatness on the Lynx are two problems, both unexpected. The first problem is in the "feel" of your car; it's hard to tell exactly where your edges are in the game's universe. Extra room is needed when tailing or passing another car, or else a crash occurs. Similarly, a healthy dose of paranoia towards road obstacles will improve survivability.
The other, more critical problem is in the game's controls. Steering, accelerating, and braking are incredibly sensitive, to the point where playability is severely hampered. Anything more than a tap on the joypad will send you on a sharp turn, and the car's speed rises and falls faster than you would expect. With the manual transmission, it's even more confusing, with Option 1 and Option 2 used to shift gears. Players will need a lot of time and patience to become comfortable with the controls.
The visuals of HARD DRIVIN', though not perfect, are simple and effective. The filled polygon effects are done well, while retaining enough detail, and help to enforce the sense of realism in the game. The instant replay scenes are the best part of the game, using reverse angles to accurately duplicate the conditions of your latest crash. Aside from a title song, the main game sounds are the roar of the engine and a few digitized clips.
Converting the complexities of the arcade HARD DRIVIN' is a difficult task; what makes the Lynx version especially disappointing is that its shortfalls could have been prevented. The sensations of the arcade are duplicated well, but unweildly controls reduce this title to only a moderate game. While the Lynx version is still playable, only the most dedicated HARD DRIVIN' enthusiasts will derive the most pleasure from it.
GAMEPLAY: 6 GRAPHICS: 8.5 SOUND: 6 OVERALL: 6