Street Racer (Atari 2600 video game)

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Street Racer
Street Racer
In-game screenshot
Developer(s) Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s) Atari, Inc.
Designer(s) Larry Kaplan
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release date(s)
  • NA September 11, 1977
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer (up to four players)
Distribution Atari 2600 cartridge

Street Racer is an early racing video game developed for the Atari 2600, then known as the VCS (Video Computer System). It was programmed by Larry Kaplan and released by Atari in September 1977 as one of the nine Atari 2600 launch titles.[1][2] The game was also released by Sears by their Tele-Games product line as Speedway II.[3]


Street Racer was one of the two launch titles programmed by Kaplan; Air-Sea Battle was the other. Street Racer offered 27 game variations, grouped into the following sub-games:[3]

  • 1–6: Street racer
  • 7–12: Slalom
  • 13–16: Dodgem
  • 17–20: Jet shooter
  • 21–24: Number cruncher
  • 25–27: Scoop ball

Each of the sub-games has roughly the same gameplay: the player controls a vehicle that must avoid or collect certain objects as they scroll down the screen. Between one and four players can compete simultaneously by using the paddle controllers, which allow the vehicle to move left and right along the bottom of the screen. If a one-player game is selected, the player competes with a static computer opponent that allows objects to collide with it or pass by.[4]


As one of the earliest games written for the platform, Street Racer suffered from unattractive, blocky graphics.[4] According to Kaplan himself, later racing games released for the Atari, such as Activision's 1982 games Barnstorming and Grand Prix, were able to offer improved graphics and gameplay.[5] In a 2007 interview, Kaplan was asked what he would change about any of the games he had written:

Street Racer is the game that lacks good game play. I took out the moving playfield because it didn't flow right (it tended to flicker). If I could change the game to have a smooth-scrolling playfield, it would make the game play better.

—Larry Kaplan, Digital Press interview[6]

Both The Video Game Critic and Gamasutra have described the "Number cruncher" sub-game as a highlight of the game.[4][7] The Video Game Critic gave the game a "D" rating.[4]

Kaplan later went on to become one of the founders of Activision, where he developed Kaboom!, one of the 10 top-selling games for the Atari 2600.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yarusso, Albert. "Atari 2600 - Atari - Text # Label Variation". AtariAge. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ Bogost, Ian; Montfort, Nick (2009). Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. MIT Press. pp. 123, 163. ISBN 0-262-01257-X. 
  3. ^ a b Yarusso, Albert. "Atari 2600 - Street Racer (Atari)". AtariAge. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Atari 2600 Reviews S-S: Street Racer". The Video Game Critic. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Larry Kaplan forum post on AtariAge". August 6, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ Stilphen, Scott. "Larry Kaplan interview". Digital Press. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  7. ^ Fulton, Steve (November 6, 2007). "The History of Atari: 1971-1977". Gamasutra. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ Buchanan, Levi (August 26, 2008). "Top 10 Best-Selling Atari 2600 Games". IGN. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 

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