Championship Rally - The Atari Times
A Micro Machines clone for the Atari handheld!
by Bruce ClarkeMay 14, 2009
I own an Atari Lynx model II with about 30 games. I recently ordered a copy of Championship Rally from Carl Forhan's Songbird Productions. The cost was $42.95 US plus shipping and handling. As I live in Canada, the shipping was fairly high - $12. The package arrived after about 12 days (it had to pass through Canada Customs so there was a delay).
This cartridge is a sleek black PCB board with a single small chip on it. Although it's obviously a 'homebrew' product, in my opinion the Songbird cartridge is very attractive with its rounded corners and glossy black finish.
Rather than a cardboard box, the cart is housed in a clear CD jewel case. The packaging includes a nicely designed full-cover manual that doubles as a front cover page for the CD case. According to the game's screen credits Lucien Kleijkers was the main programmer while Carl Forhan did the sound development.
When Championship Rally starts up the screen displays a nice opening graphic of a rally racing car. The overall concept is a top-down racer; you pilot one of four cars around seven race tracks with a variety of terrain. The tracks weave between various obstacles such as buildings and trees. As well, you will encounter objects on the road such as oil slicks or turbo power-ups. This game reminds me strongly of the "Micro Machines" series that has appeared on various consoles.
The steering input and control response is fairly good. Like most racing game, you generally mash the -A- button to accelerate and use -B- for braking. The steering does seem to incorporate some backend sliding; you let off the gas and brake as you slide through the corners. The computer cars seem to be driven fairly well by the program`s AI; I find it fairly easy to come in second or third, but placing first is tough. The gameplay is fine but there are no real surprises in Rally; if you played other top-down racers you won`t see anything new here.
The graphics present themselves well on the Lynx's small screen. Championship Rally is a good-looking game, but I have to say it doesn't have the fantastic eye-candy of some Lynx games such as STUN Runner or KLAX. As well, the sound effects are decent but not outstanding.
One feature I really liked is that when running a single track race, you can adjust the speed of acceleration of both your car and the computer`s. Sadly, you can not do this in the Tournament mode. I should also mention that if you can find another Lynx owner with this game, you can use the ComLynx cable to race against each other head-to-head.
Racing games are perhaps my favorite genre of video games. While the Lynx has several "third person" view racers (Checkered Flag, Roadblasters, etc), the little Atari doesn't have anything that offers a top-down view like this, so Rally fills an otherwise empty niche in the Lynx library.
Overall, I am happy with my purchase and rate it about an 8 out of 10. If you are not a fan of racing games you probably won`t care for this game, but for many Lynx fans this will be a welcome addition to their library.
You can find screenshots and further information on the AtariAge and Songbird web sites. Gentlemen, start your Lynxes!