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Night Driver

Night Driver

Night Driver

Night Driver is an arcade game developed by Ted Michon and licensed by Atari Inc for release in the United States in October, 1976. Originally licensed by Atari from German firm Micronetics whom Ted Michon had sold the game to and had released the game as Night Racer, Ted's version was in turn inspired by the earlier discrete coin-op Nürburgring 1. It is considered one of the earliest first-person racing video games, and is commonly believed to be one of the first published games to display real-time first-person graphics.

The player controls a car which must be driven along a road at nighttime without crashing into the sides of the road as indicated by road side reflectors. The game is controlled with a single pedal for gas, a wheel for steering and a four-selection lever for gear shifting. The coin operated game had a choice of three difficulties, novice, pro, and expert, from which the player could choose at game start. The turns were sharper and more frequent on the more difficult tracks. As play progresses, the road gets narrower and more winding.

The game length could be set by the owner to 50, 75, 100, or 125 seconds. After 300 points, a player is awarded bonus time equal to game time, but the score wraps around back to zero at 1000 points so it is possible to reach 300 points more than once. Due to the additional points received for more difficult play, playing on the expert setting is actually the easiest to achieve extra time once a player has mastered the game.

Due to the limitations of arcade technology at the time, the car the player is driving is not actually drawn on-screen. Instead, the car is a printed plastic insert that is laid under the screen. Also, the fact that the car is driving at night made it easier for the programmers to draw the environment with limited graphics at the time, as most things didn't need to be drawn because they were supposedly completely dark.

There were two versions of the cabinet manufactured, an upright and a cockpit. The upright version had a blacklight installed inside the cabinet which illuminated the bezel.


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