Retrogamin’ with Hard Drivin’

Oh yes, it’s Atari’s Hard Drivin‘ from back in the dying days of the ’80’s. Aside from Vertigo Racing and Car Wars 3D, we haven’t written much about driving sims, and even then, those games don’t truly fall into the same driving sim category as Hard Drivin’ does. In fact, even Bikrash is more of a sim (of the biking variety) than the aforementioned games. Anyhow, that all changes now as we revisit this bat-shit crazy (for the time) driving simulator.

Racing that threw you for a loop

One of the things that made Hard Drivin’ stand out from the start was the very fact that it was called Hard Drivin’ to begin with. When you chanced upon a game that dared to just casually drop the g in the actual title in lieu of an apostrophe, you just knew that the game designers/publishers had gone a little rogue and wanted to advertise their game as something rebellious and not for the unadventurous. Furthermore, you instinctively understood that Hard Drivin’ referred to the driving hard, and not necessarily that the game was hard. But then again, at the same time, it was actually pretty hard. At least for bad drivers like myself.

Hard Drivin’ put you in the driver’s seat of a Ferrari Testarossa, (with full on steering wheel force feedback in the original arcade version) giving you true first person perspective and a view of the track that was reminiscent of Pole Position, but with gameplay that was completely different. You see, in Hard Drivin’, the race track is more akin to a highway as you’ll encounter trucks and other vehicles on the road. Other features include unlikely engineering constructs such as a towering loop and inclines that’ll send you flying if you’re driving too fast. This will usually result in a violent crash which you can instant replay to much hilarity. Speaking of built in comedy, Hard Drivin’ also let You you drive the wrong way on the track, which was a departure from the confines of traditionally conservative driving games. And if that wasn’t enough, if you drove off track into the field, you may encounter a cow which would moo loudly as you passed/hit it. Yep. The gift of comedy gold that keeps on giving.

Check out this Hard Drivin’ gameplay video for more fun:

Year: 1989
Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games, Namco
Designer: Rick Moncrief
Platforms: Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Lynx, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Genesis, ZX Spectrum
Genre: Driving simulation


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