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Enduro - The Atari Times


Is this the best racing game for the 2600?
by Ethan C. Nobles

February 19, 2004
Enduro, honestly, is one of the best games out there for the Atari 2600. Certainly, it's the best racing game available for the 2600, and what's even more phenomenal is that Activision programmer Larry Miller managed to cram this wonderfully-complex title into a measly 4-kilobyte cartridge. Those folks at Activision never ceased to amaze, did they?

I've read some reviews comparing this game to Pole Position, and that's not exactly fair. Pole Position for the 2600, while enjoyable in its own right, is an arcade racer, while 1983's Enduro is more of a simulator which almost seems too sophisticated for the old Stella console.

Enduro, as the title implies, drops the player in a cross-country, endurance race which is divided into days. On the first day, the player hits the road at sunrise and is given the chore of passing 200 cars before the day is done. If the player manages that, he is to pass 300 cars, and the difficulty ramps up on each subsequent day. While passing a certain number of cars might not seem to challenging, the days pass quickly and the opponents become faster and more reluctant to be passed as the game progresses. If the player makes the mistake of hitting another car, you get the static-filled "explosion" noise and wind up on the side of the road as cars pass.

The structure of the game itself provides a challenge as the player has to deal with changing weather conditions and, of course, darkness. The true brilliance behind the game can be found here in that the changing weather and time-of-day have a noticeable impact on either visibility, the handling of the car or both. The player will have to put up with snow, rain, fog and darkness throughout the game. Snow, for example, makes the car quite difficult to control in that the handling is fairly sluggish, but the vehicle can get away from you in a hurry. When it's night, the opposing vehicles are reduced to mere points of light (taillights, see), which means the player has to reduce his speed and negotiate carefully. Weather conditions and darkness require the player to revise his strategy so as to avoid the time-wasting accidents. The darkness is particularly troublesome if the player needs to pass a lot of cars before the sun rises and the next day begins.

By the way, times-of-day and changing weather conditions were utilized very well in another outstanding Activision game for the 2600 -- Robot Tank.

Graphically, this game is pretty simple - the road is represented as two lines which shoot at the driver from the horizon while twisting and curving as a natural highway might. Speaking of the horizon, keeping an eye on it is key to figuring out when night is approaching, when the sunrise is close at hand and etc. As usual with Activision games, rainbow sunsets and the like are utilized well in the horizon. The player's car is an ill-defined, white blob which isn't pretty, but serves its purpose. The opposing vehicles are of various colors and are scaled well as they make their way from the horizon to the player's car.

The controls are excellent. The joystick is used to steer, brake and accelerate, and the vehicle truly become sluggish under some of the aforementioned weather conditions.

The sound is best described as utilitarian. Rudimentary audio cues are utilized to let the player know when he's passed a car and when he's completed his daily goals and a new day of racing begins. Explosions, as I mentioned, sound like static.

The only drawback to this excellent game is the fact that it does take a lot of time to play and there's no way to save (naturally) or skip past the lower levels. Still, this fairly-common cartridge is a joy and should be appreciated by anyone wanting a good racing game for the 2600.


(c) Activision

Have you ever seen a game with a GREEN race track?!
Ice is just one of the obstacles you'll have to endure.
Don't be a tailgater! Especially at night!
"Where are my foglamps?"
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Driving
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 90%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 95%

Reader Comments for Enduro

An awesome racing game by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-24 16:30:45
This is one of the best racing games that was made for the Atari 2600. The only better 2600 racing game is Pole Position. This game lets the driver drive in snow, fog, at night, etc. This is one of Activision's better Atari games.
The name says it all. by James Arlow on 2015-03-28 20:43:01
The brilliance of this game is that you have a set time limit to pass x hundred number of cars. The kicker is that when you crash, the cars pass you. Your score is measured in days. You either make it or you don't. Every new day is relief and an immediate challenge that only gets more serious as the day goes on and your attention starts to waver.

Little mistakes turn into frantic risks to catch up at the last minute. Sliding between cars in the snow, barreling through the dark in a last ditch effort to make up for sloppy riding at dusk, those last few seconds before dawn, no game has ever puckered my rear and had me slapping myself in the face like those moments in Enduro.

I never made it to day 5, lord knows I tried. 2 cars short, 20, 100... I never had the endurance. Oh how you taunt me to this day. What a beautifully simplistic idea.
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