Thursday 20 February 2020

Club Drive (Atari Jaguar review)

Developer: Atari Corporation
Publisher: Atari Corporation
Released: 1994

Club Drive is a racing game that's exclusive to the Atari Jaguar.

It consists of four worlds and three modes. The first is Collect which supports 1-2 players and the aim is to drive into ten objects as they randomly appear. While it's a cool idea to generate objects over multiple floors to keep players guessing, the worlds themselves just aren't well designed; on top of being very small in size (meaning the game will often spawn a new object in the same area), they all lack distinguishing features. Race supports 1-2 players with the winner being the person who completes the necessary number of laps as fast as possible. The San Francisco level is fantastic with famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge on display, and it's clever how the finish line is the entrance to a pier! Unfortunately, it can only be played solo, as the multiplayer version takes place in a small car park. The rest of the tracks are mundane with Velocity Park being a poor imitation of Stunt Car Racer's (1989, Commodore Amiga) death-defying jumps. Tag is two-player only and the aim is to hit your opponent to 'tag' them, with the winner being the person who remains 'not it' the longest. The small arenas do this mode no justice and the fact that there's no room to hide means that you don't have many ways to strategically plan your movements. Throughout all modes, playing solo is bland due to the inability to compete against the CPU. The frame-rate is acceptable though and there are some neat touches, such as the game of Pong that appears on the big TV in the Jerome's Pad level. Also, the Rewind feature is outstanding and ahead of its time, as it allows bad decisions to be reversed immediately.

Club Drive is more playable than Checkered Flag (1994, Atari Jaguar) thanks to its passable frame-rate, but almost everything about it is extremely banal. While you may get 30 minutes of so-so enjoyment from its multiplayer offerings, those playing alone will quickly grow tired of its uninspired, shallow modes.

Random trivia: According to programmer Eric Smith, Club Drive was inspired by Indy 500 (1977, Atari 2600).

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