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If you were to Re-design Atari Karts...


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#1 AtariHero

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 12:25 PM

I can't believe it's been almost three years since I blogged about this but it seems appropriate to share as I'd like to hear your thoughts.

 

From a side blog that I haven't updated in a while:

 

https://arcryphongam...s-atari-jaguar/

 

(Yes, I am aware that many images in the post are broken, I'll have to fix that)

 

I always liked Atari Karts but there were aspects of it that felt off - particularly that it only used Bentley Bear as an Atari character and didn't feature a roster based off Atari's rich history from the early 80s. Driving as Yar, Major Havoc, Charley Chuck, Berthilda The Witch, Robot 1984, Louie (Scrapyard Dog), Commander Champion and others. 

 

On top of that I think the game could have better fulfilled its name by featuring levels & items based on Atari universe scenes.

 

I don't really have any issues with how the game plays (maybe except for an improvement on getting stuck on the sides in certain levels...I've seen kids get frustrated with that), it's more that the game doesn't really feel "Atari" when it barely references the company otherwise.

 

Agree or disagree? Any changes you would make if you could?


Edited by AtariHero, 23 February 2017 - 12:29 PM.

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#2 Lost Dragon

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 04:21 PM

Your spot on regarding the missed opp.the game was, in terms of not tapping a lot deeper into Characters from Atari's history and to be a true ATARI carts, it's levels rather than the generic fodder served up, should of been themed around Atari universe scenes.

 

From a pure gameplay point of view, i'd of included more customising on the button set up for a start, make the power up icons in-game a lot more 'solid', so you could spot them a lot easier and make them a lot more rewarding also.

 

Ones on offer felt far too bland, you needed something in way of offensive weapons.

 

Handling/controls on std pad needed tightning up...

 

Backgrounds needed to turn with you.

 

It basically needed a good few modes/ideas of it's own.

 

It doesn't compare well to even MD, let alone SNES Street Racer (Ubisoft) let alone Mario Kart, SNES, IMO


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#3 AtariHero

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 10:21 AM

In terms of features and theming, Mario Kart certainly is a more complete game although graphically I think that Atari Karts stands strong in that regard thanks to full screen, hills, color, animations and frame rate. I also don't mind the more arcade-like focus on racing although when I first grabbed the game I had an odd expectation of there being a battle mode. That said, I really haven't found battle mode on MK to be very fun any more, maybe it's just age.

 

Power-ups apart from having more offensive items and Atari related items could have been more visible as you mention. I can't imagine having the symbol floating above the track as a sprite would have affected the engine that much although I'm a backseat driver when it comes to coding.   

 

One place that AK was odd too was the music. Too melancholy at times, particularly on the scores/ranking scene. It could have used something a little more upbeat (YaK's TxK has this problem - too many 'smooth' tracks that feel out of place with what the gameplay was trying to do). That said, it is quite distinctive whether you like it or hate it, easy to remember which cannot be said for so many other games. 


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#4 Lost Dragon

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 04:32 PM

Yeah i cannot see the cosmetic changes to things like icons, floating, rather than lying flat would of resulted in a massive performance hit, as whilst a very solid, colourful 2D game, it's not pushing the Jaguar that hard i'd wager...something like Street Racer on Genesis must have required a lot more clever coding and asked far more of host hardware, than this is doing of Jaguar.



#5 atarilbc

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 12:08 PM

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of classic characters to be drawn from Atari's golden era games.  I think this is one reason why we only see Bentley Bear in Atari Karts.  The most popular Atari arcade properties predate character driven games. As mentioned above, you're essentially limited to Charley Chuck, Berthilda and Major Havoc.  While a lot of fun, Crystal Castles, Food Fight and Major Havoc are not exactly top tier Atari titles in the vein of Asteroids, Centipede, Tempest, Missile Command and Battlezone.  That said, the classic IP could have been leveraged for world building.

 

For example, imagine a Missile Command inspired world where you're driving your kart racer in a city while ballistic missiles rain down around you.  Or driving through a mushroom filled land where spiders, scorpions and centipedes are the hazards.  Atari missed an opportunity to find creative ways to themes from their best known games into Atari Karts.

 

I won't dwell on other improvements like better control, longer tracks, and more obvious power-ups and hazards.  We all know the game didn't have a lot of depth or polish.  For what it is - a generic kart racer - I've always enjoyed it. 


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#6 RickR

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 12:52 PM

Oh man, you are so right.  What a wasted opportunity. 

 

I know some of these probably had licensing issues, but some cool characters they should have tried to include:

  • Pitfall Harry
  • Pac Man
  • The Adventure square.
  • E.T.

The special animations and power ups for these characters almost write themselves. 

 

And atarilbc's idea of Atari themed tracks is inspired!  Asteroids, Missile Command, Pong, Combat. 


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#7 RickR

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 12:53 PM

And PS - I need to get myself a Jaguar and some games.  But boy-o are they expensive these days. 


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#8 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 03:08 PM

Actually, when i think back to my (commercial era) Dreamcast owning days, it's surprising just how few lessons had been learned by time of releases such as "Walt Disney World Quest Magical Tour Racing", now there's something with a huge roster of characters, concepts etc to dip into, but potential wasted....

 

 

Locations and craft changed, so you'd go from driving Snow Mobiles to River Launches (though the boats seemed to be suspended a few ft above the water, rather than sitting in it..), yet they handled exactly the same...

 

 

Power up's were usual cliches..slow down opponents, shields, guided missiles, speed boosts etc.

 

Sure you had 4 player split screen, but for a 2000 release....

 

 

Then there was South Park Rally, which at least did something different to basic game structure by adding challenges, ie cure yourself of BSE/Mad Cow Disease by holding onto the cure for 2 mins, (you lose the vial holding the cure if your hit by other players), collecting chickens or simply taking a pair of underpants across the finishing line.

 

Power ups were specific to the cartoon..Chocolate salty Balls, Cheesy Poofs, Underwear Gnomes, homing missile being Sparky The Dog, the Herpes weapon etc etc.

 

 

Atari Karts simply needed the Atari Homage to be a lot stronger than having Bentley Bear as a main character, Cup Names referencing Atari, etc.

 

 

Could they not have had say Oliver The Elf from Centipede or the Centipede itself in the game? you have a bloody Octopus in there fer crying out loud...

 

Charley Chuck from Food Fight?

 

 

Yar from Yar's Revenge?

 

Robot from I, Robot?

 

Gunfighter from Outlaw?

 

Spider from Black Widow?

 

Super Bug as a custom Kart?

 

The Paperboy from..well Paperboy?

 

Rock and Ace from Xybots?

 

Bif/Jet from Toobin?

 

Jake/Duke from Escape From Planet Of Robot Monsters?

 

Officer Bob from APB?

 

And had themed levels based around these?


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#9 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 04:22 PM

Has anyone ever interviewed any of the team behind Atari Karts? just to get a feel for what the actual design brief was by Atari? which characters they were allowed to use etc?. The more i look at Kart Racers since then, espically those based on films/TV shows etc, more i see what they did with the potential, even if actual games weren't that great. Starwars:Super Bombard Racing at least had a lot of variety in power ups (25?) tractor beams, giant light sabers, Jar Jar Binks tongue etc... Tracks based around desert's of Tatoonie, Swamps of Naboo etc. LooneyTunes Space Race (ok, more wipeout than M.Kart), which dissapointly didn't have anything but graphical differences between who you choose to play, really, at least had Foghorn Leghorn introducing races, giving running commentary etc. Small touches like these do give clones a degree of personality i find.



#10 nosweargamer

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 12:48 AM

That sad thing is is that the game came out when the Jag was pretty much dead when it came out. And at the time, retro wasn't as in as it is now and Atari characters would not have added much appeal to the general public.

 

However it would've been cool if they did add some old Atari characters with matching stages:

 

(I will copy some, but I won't include Atari Games characters, since it was a different company, even though they had a good, working relationship with Atari Corp.)

 

Adventure Square outside the Yellow Castle, using the bridge to jump, magnets that pull the cars of the track and dragons to eat the karts.

Yar, driving on the neutral zone similar to the rainbow roads in Mario Kart.

Ninja from Ninja Golf, driving through a golf course, and underwater!

Charley Chuck with pot holes on the course with random chefs popping up.

Desert Falcon on a pyramid themed course.

Pole Position course where the Pole Position car drove a kart ;)

Sentinel orb on a space course

Tempest U driving on a rotating tempest tube.

Centipede Elf driving through a mushroom forest

Haunted House eyes in a (duh) Haunted House

Combat Tank on a very basic course

Outlaw guy on a generic desert course with cacti


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#11 Lost Dragon

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 07:49 AM

https://www.unseen64...ts-jaguar-beta/

 

 

Quick look at early version there.

 

Thought of another 'themed' Mario Kart clone that (failed) to appear:

 

Austin Powers:Mojo Rally.

 

It was annouced for Dreamcast (possibly other platforms-i honestly don't follow Kart racers, so didn't look further)...

 

 

Supposed to include line up of likes of:

 

Austin, Vanessa, Mustafa and Basil...hidden characters to inc Number 2 and Mini Me.

 

Each character having different strenghts/weaknesses as you'd expect..plus shout catchphrases from the films.

 

 

Climax Brighton coding, but nothing said on any particular themed tracks at this point.

 

Last i heard of it as well.


Edited by Lost Dragon, 14 March 2017 - 08:06 AM.


#12 AtariHero

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 11:18 PM

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of classic characters to be drawn from Atari's golden era games.  I think this is one reason why we only see Bentley Bear in Atari Karts.  The most popular Atari arcade properties predate character driven games. As mentioned above, you're essentially limited to Charley Chuck, Berthilda and Major Havoc.  While a lot of fun, Crystal Castles, Food Fight and Major Havoc are not exactly top tier Atari titles in the vein of Asteroids, Centipede, Tempest, Missile Command and Battlezone.  That said, the classic IP could have been leveraged for world building.

 

For example, imagine a Missile Command inspired world where you're driving your kart racer in a city while ballistic missiles rain down around you.  Or driving through a mushroom filled land where spiders, scorpions and centipedes are the hazards.  Atari missed an opportunity to find creative ways to themes from their best known games into Atari Karts.

 

I won't dwell on other improvements like better control, longer tracks, and more obvious power-ups and hazards.  We all know the game didn't have a lot of depth or polish.  For what it is - a generic kart racer - I've always enjoyed it. 

As some of the later posts mentioned, there are a few more characters in the Atari world than usually come to mind but it's really hard to put any Atari character in the world recognition category anymore.

 

But those areas where you didn't have a lot of character to pull from, the themed worlds certainly could have been done and made the game much more interesting, especially if hazards from the themes were used as you suggest.

 

Now that you mention it, I wonder if the track length was a technical issue (not enough RAM), development time or something else. 


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#13 Lost Dragon

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 05:49 AM

Thanks to Scott i've seen the mail between developers and Atari, with developers asking Atari if they want to keep the game as an exclusive? As if not they have an interested party who wants to bring it out on other formats and if this happened,they change elements etc.

So, i'm under the impression that game was simply designed as generic kart Racer..going off beta footage and they simply made most basic of changes to make it Atari themed.

Had it been designed from ground up to embrace the Atari world, things could of been a lot different

#14 Lost Dragon

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:42 PM

Atari badly needed a developer like Mev Dinc and his team onboard, to design/produce a serious Mario Kart Rival on Jaguar.

 

They had approached Mev with regards to developing on Panther, but Mev flatly refused, as he said Atari's track record with consoles wasn't that great (2600 aside, he was right..XEGS, 5200 and 7800), but when i look at Street Racer on Genesis and later Saturn:

 

 

http://www.google.co...BZV3UdoGfYO8Y_Q

 

Never mind PS1...

 

 

You just know the Jaguar needed something of this standard, not Atari Karts...to be taken seriousily, it's like night and day...

 

Even the Genesis game shames it.

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#15 Lost Dragon

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 04:35 PM

More on Street Racer...proof an updated 16 bit game could work on 32bit+ hardware..

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#16 Lost Dragon

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 07:38 AM

Atari might of been better trying to convince Core design to convert BC Racers to Jaguar CD (i'm well aware it was claimed it was headed in the Edge supplement, but so far ALL evidence points to Soul Star being the SOLE game in development on Jaguar by Core Design)...

 

 

Ir simply doing what Codemasters did with Dino Racers...simply cancelling the project, rather than releasing something as dire as Atari Karts....

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#17 AtariHero

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 09:33 PM

Atari badly needed a developer like Mev Dinc and his team onboard, to design/produce a serious Mario Kart Rival on Jaguar.

 

They had approached Mev with regards to developing on Panther, but Mev flatly refused, as he said Atari's track record with consoles wasn't that great (2600 aside, he was right..XEGS, 5200 and 7800), but when i look at Street Racer on Genesis and later Saturn:

 

 

http://www.google.co...BZV3UdoGfYO8Y_Q

 

Never mind PS1...

 

 

You just know the Jaguar needed something of this standard, not Atari Karts...to be taken seriousily, it's like night and day...

 

Even the Genesis game shames it.

That shows the Sega Saturn symbol, not the Genesis ;)

 

nice comparison of the two. Although that said, no one really remembers Street Racer or any of these others as all these years later it's just Mario Kart. There are a lot of gameplay elements that Atari/Miracle could have done to make it a better game but part of playing on nostalgia is using the characters/IP you've got to keep them in mind:

 


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#18 Lost Dragon

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 04:45 AM

That's a very good point, no one really remembers any of the various Mario Kart clones all these years on, as there have been so, so many on countless platforms.

I was trying to recall the name of an early Sony produced one on ps1, that started out as Super Deformed Racing, think it was Speed Freaks?.

know PS1 also had Crash Team Racing, but no idea what they did with the characters from it and how well it translated.

Looking back, I honestly think Codemasters and Take 2 had the right idea, if your novelty themed Kart Racing clone is reliant on the novelty alone...is it really going to cut it?

No one really talks about Street Racer, BC Racers in terms of being viable alternatives to Mario Kart these days..

And Atari Kart is more an example of highlighting how little understanding Atari had of the console market when it entered with the Jaguar and how it struggled to get developers on-board who could develop even 16 bit beating software.

#19 TeddyGermany

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 03:29 AM

Hmmm, somebody must produce a hack or a sequel with all the proposed characters and courses. That will be sure funny!


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#20 Lost Dragon

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 05:53 AM

Given the current 'Scene' it's more likely someone ahem , would annouce such a hack or sequel or a conversion of BC Racers/Street Racer etc, start detailed explanations of how coding is/isn't going..then go off on a complete side track and talk about how a conversion of Destruction derby or something vaguely related is now possible :)

 

I've seen a lot of titles/hacks/games being finished/total conversions etc annouced, but yet to see anything appear.

 

 

Maybe it'd be the ideal 7800 XM Module game?

 

:rofl: 






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