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Homebrew of the Month: Drive!


The Electric Frankfurter

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IMG_3841.JPGDrive!
Developer: Nick Wilson

In the Big Atariage Homebrew Release of 2017 there were heavy hitters like Assembloids and Scramble that made everyone ooo and aaah.  There were also unassuming games that flew right under everyone’s radar.  Games that you really shouldn’t overlook.  Previously for the HotM I examined one such game:  The Gizzle Wap and the Strange Red Tree.  This week we take a look at another hidden gem:  Drive!


What’s All This Then?

You’ve plundered the treasure from an ancient temple in the year 2050, but now the structure is crumbling around you.  There’s only one way out:  DRIVE!  As you race to escape, you’ll want to nab any additional treasures you come across.  Survive to a score of 99,999 and you win.  Crash three times and you’re history, future history perhaps.

Drive! is a fast-paced, obstacle-dodging endurance game that pits you against a random assortment of walls you must navigate on your way to the finish!  Best of all, Drive! is one of the few homebrew games developed for the use of the Paddle Controllers!  The game play is simple and straightforward, but there is a lot to like about this game.  The basic idea is to navigate your vehicle through gaps in the walls at breakneck speed.  As you zoom through you will find different treasures.  You can carry a maximum of five, but hoard them at your own peril.  You see, you can “burn” a treasure in order to jump over a wall if you find yourself in a tough spot.  This becomes very helpful when things start to speed up.  In addition to giving you jump boosts, the treasures are also imbued with special powers.  Some allow you to pass through walls like a ghost, others give you unlimited jumping ability or even extra “lives.”   
That’s it.  Jump in your car and hit the gas!

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Please excuse the crappy screenshots.  Is not easy to get good screen shots of a fast paced paddle game off your tv... 


How’s it Play?

Really well.   Taking into account that my paddles are really, really jittery until you play a dozen or so games and warm them up, Drive! plays really well right out of the gate.  The player moves smoothly through the obstacle course and the collision detection is sharp.  There are no cheap crashes.  Because of this you’ll want to be precise with your jumps, because even landing part of your car on a wall is crash time.

But don’t let your mad driving skills fool you.  Playing the base game with both difficulty switches on B is for old ladies and children.  What you want to do is switch both difficulty switches to A.  The left switch makes the gaps in the walls smaller and the right switch causes some of the walls to move.  Not so smart now, are ya?  Oh, still cocky?  Ok wise guy, now hit SELECT.  This will turn the title screen red and let you know you are entering the Speed Freak Mode.  Speed Freak Mode starts the game at the top possible speed.  If you survive long enough you might even enter that zen-like zone where everything just slows down.  If…
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Whistles and Bells

Well the first and most obvious Whistle and Bell for me is the fact that this game was developed for paddles. (I've only mentioned it like 3 time so far)  I don’t know why more games do not utilize this controller (or other controllers like the Keyboard or Driving Controllers).  Just having a new paddle game is a pretty special thing.  Drive! also supports AtariVox/SaveKey so you can hold on to your high scores and comes with the now pretty much standard high quality, full color manual.

Final Assessment

Drive! is a great twitch-esque game that might seem really simple at first, but once you start implementing some of the game variations, you’ll soon find there is plenty of fun and challenge to be had.  Those endowed with great paddle skills will find it easy to jump right into the driver’s seat and race for that perfect score.  Those, like me, who are paddle-challenged will not be put off as the game variations give you plenty of opportunity to warm up to the task at hand.  The action is fast-paced and fun and will keep you coming back for more.  Finally, a new paddle game for the VCS!
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Tips and Tricks

Practice!  Don’t discount the value of playing the Difficulty B variations to warm yourself up before going for Speed Freak Mode.  Even I was able to get 80K points in just a couple of runs on the dual B setting.  This will help familiarize you with the fundamentals before things get out of control.

Burn Baby, Burn!  You can only keep 5 treasures at a time, so do not hesitate to burn one here and there when things get tight.  It’s better to have jumped and lost a treasure than to never have jumped at all.  You treasure tally is only taken when the game is over, so until then use as needed.

Sneak in Some Rest.  This is an endurance game.  You’ll not get to 99K in a couple of minutes, so I use the invincible power-up to give my hand a break.  This power-up also gives you a change to test out some riskier maneuvers consequence free, if you are all rested up and just want to try some new tricks.

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So there you have it, a cool new paddle game for your Atari that probably slipped past you when you weren’t looking!  It may not be as flashy as some of the heavy hitters released last year, but Drive! definitely deserves your attention!

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