Freeway (video game)
Freeway was one of the first titles released by Activision in their effort to publish independent games for the Atari 2600. One or two players control chickens who can be made to run across a ten lane highway filled with traffic in an effort to "get to the other side." Every time a chicken gets across a point is earned for that player. If hit by a car, a chicken is forced back either slightly, or pushed back to the bottom of the screen, depending on what difficulty the switch is set to. The winner of a two player game is the player who has scored the most points in the two minutes, sixteen seconds allotted.
The chickens are only allowed to move up or down. The chicken sprite has limited animation and a cluck sound is heard when a chicken is struck by a car.
The original prototype version for Freeway was entitled Bloody Human Freeway. A few major differences to the finished product were: at start up, cars were already on the freeway instead of all being lined up on the right side; the score and Activision logo were yellow instead of pink; instead of controlling a chicken, the player controlled a man and instead of being forced down a bit when hit by a car, the character would turn into a streak of blood; pressing the fire button reset the game. There were some minor differences in the sounds used.
Comparisons are often made to Frogger, which has different gameplay but also features crossing a street filled with moving vehicles. Both games were developed independently at the same time. Similarities did help sales when Frogger was popular in the arcades and a home version was not yet available.
Many early Activision games included contests. If a player scored over a certain number of points and sent in a photograph of the television screen, Activision would send the player a cloth badge for that particular game. For Freeway, the player needed to score 20 or more points on either Road 3 or Road 7 and was rewarded with a "Save The Chicken Foundation" badge featuring the Activision logo and the stylized "running chicken" image from the game package.
Freeway was well received, earning an Honorable Mention for "Most Innovative Game" in 1982 at the Third Annual Arkie Awards. In 2014, it received an elegant homage in the hugely successful Crossy Road, a mobile app that shares much of the former's gameplay innovations and conventions. :28