|Developer(s)||Atari Games, Argonaut Software Ltd., Polygames, Walking Circles, Time Warner Interactive|
|Publisher(s)||Atari Games, THQ, Inc., Tengen|
|Release date(s)||1990 (Arcade)
1991 (Atari ST)
|Mode(s)||1 player, 2 players (alternating)|
|Cabinet||Environmental/Cockpit or Standard/Upright|
|CPU||68010, TMS34010, DSP32C|
|Display||Horizontal Raster, 512 x 384 for cockpit & 336 x 240 for upright|
Race Drivin' is a driving arcade game sequel (to 1989's Hard Drivin') that invites players to test drive several high-powered sports cars on stunt and speed courses. The game was part of a new generation of games that featured 3D polygon environments. Unlike most racing games of its time, it attempted to model real world car physics in the simulation of the movement of the players car. Like Hard Drivin', the game was unique among video games in that it included a true force feedback steering wheel, an ignition key, a 4-speed shifter, and 3 foot pedals (an accelerator, a brake, and a clutch (the clutch being a control seldom seen in any video game, then or now)). Approximately 1200 units were produced at the time of its release for roughly $9000 each.
The gameplay resembles a driving game, featuring 4 different cars (3 with manual transmissions (speedster, roadster, and original), and 1 automatic (original)) and 3 different tracks to choose from (the regular stunt track which is very similar to the one in Hard Drivin', the Autocross track, and the Super Stunt track). The screen shows a first person perspective from inside the car, through the windshield. The cars dashboard is visible and displays the cars instruments, like the speedometer, tachometer and fuel level, as well as a few other non-gameplay important ones, such as the oil, temp, and amp dummy lights. Each car has its own unique dashboard.
The game generally consists of racing 1 or 2 laps around the player's chosen track within the allotted time. The gameplay and vehicle operation in Race Drivin' are very similar to Hard Drivin' and gameplay elements such as the Instant Replay and the off road timer are still there. A noticeable difference between the two games though is that although the car traffic in Race Drivin's stunt track is still there like in the original Hard Drivin' track, the two new tracks included in Race Drivin' (Autocross and Super Stunt track) are absent of any additional car traffic. Also, unlike Hard Drivin's original track that offers the driver two different driving paths, the two new tracks in Race Drivin' only offer one driving path per track. The finish times of the new tracks are very different as well. The original track shared by Race Drivin' and Hard Drivin' takes roughly 1:30 to complete. By comparison, the Autocross track is very short requiring roughly only 30 seconds to complete and the Super Stunt track is considerably longer (taking roughly 3 minutes to complete).
Like its predecessor Hard Drivin', the game features an ignition key, a realistic manual transmission mode (which includes a 4-speed shifter (with neutral), a clutch pedal, and the possibility of stalling the car should one mis-shift) and a force feedback steering wheel, in which the driver has to all properly operate as they would in a car in real life. The cockpit version of the game also includes an adjustable bucket seat and, if it is a 'Panorama' version (of which only 100 were made), it sports 3 to 5 monitors for a full 180° peripheral view.
Race Drivin' improved upon its predecessor in several ways.
- It had improved handling courtesy of a faster microprocessor and more efficient software. The TMS34010 used for car modeling was replaced with an AT&T DSP32C which is faster and has floating point. Now, instead of modeling a car with only two wheels as Hard Drivin' did, Race Drivin' could model a car with all 4 wheels.
- 2 more tracks and 3 more cars were added. The stunts in the new Super Stunt track were either enhanced versions of the original ones (for example, Hard Drivin's 'loop' became taller, requiring more speed, and was now called a 'jump loop' because it had an open gap at its peak, and the ramp jump now had two separate landing ramps, each requiring a different speed) or new stunts entirely, like the corkscrew loop, the mountain road, and the 45° vertical hill.
- Race Drivin' also introduced 'Buddy Race', where a second player could race against a previous player's recorded performance, and 'Linked Race', where by connecting a cable between two Race Drivin' cabinets, players could race each other simultaneously.
The game was ported to various systems such as the Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and SNES but received sub-par reviews due to the over-demanding requirements (i.e. 3D rendering) of the game on what was still primitive hardware as well as the poor translation of the arcade controls (steering wheel, shifter, etc.) to the new platform's controls. In 2005 it was ported to the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox as part of the (Midway Arcade Treasures 3 collection).
Having worked on Hard Drivin', Doug Milliken returned to 'test drive' Race Drivin' (he's listed once again as a test driver). Actually, Atari was still trying to hide the fact that he was involved in developing the physics models that accurately described how the parts of the cars react together. Doug and his father William Milliken are known for having written a book on car modeling "Race Car Vehicle Dynamics (R146)" by William F. Milliken, Douglas L. Milliken
- SEGA Pro rating, issue 25, page 54-55, Nov 1993
- Nintendo Power rating, issue 43, page 109, Dec 1992
- Super Play rating, Jan 9, 1993
- Nintendo Power rating, issue 45, Feb 1993