04 May 2010

RoadBlasters - Arcade

In the summer of 1987 I was 15 years old. A child of Maryland, I spent as much of my summers as possible at Ocean City. It's a resort town on the beach with a long boardwalk, fried food aplenty and - in the 80s - dozens of arcades.
Geoff was my high school friend and his mom let me come along when they went on their Ocean City vacation. We played D&D in the apartment, tried to score a bottle of booze, and dumped quarters at the arcade. That summer the game for me was RoadBlasters.
1. I'm a sucker for anything Atari makes.
2. I'll take driving and shooting over nearly any other gameplay combination.
3. We never found a bottle of booze, or any girls to hang out with, so the arcade was where we spent most of our time.
RoadBlasters is the kind of game that made Atari arcade cabinets so much fun. You could sit in it like a real car; the gameplay was basic but filled with cool features; it was fun to play but nearly impossible to beat. In the game you try to beat 50 levels of increasing difficulty. Your cool red car can catch new weapons and upgrades as they drop from the sky. An odd, digitized female voice occasionally cheers you on.
And, like SpyHunter, a variety of enemy cars with their own defenses and attacks stand in your way. The game doesn't reward speed as much as it rewards good driving and shooting.
Needless to say, I never beat it. I probably dumped $50 into that thing over the course of a week at the beach without women or booze.
I have absolutely no regrets.
By Victor Paul Alvarez