Grand Prix (video game)
Grand Prix was the first Atari 2600 game to feature shaded objects in color. When David Crane developed a technique for painting large, multicolored sprites on the 2600, he made a color pattern that reminded him of Grand Prix racing stripes. This inspired him to design a Grand Prix racing game to apply his new technique.
The player drives a Formula One car in a time trial on one of four race tracks, each of which has a different difficulty level. Difficulty is gauged by the length of the course, the number of cars and oil slicks on the track, and the number of bridges to cross.
The player views the race from a top-down perspective, and the screen scrolls from right to left. The player's car maneuvers only on a vertical axis, and loses a little speed when it does so. The joystick's button is the throttle: Depressing it accelerates, and releasing it decelerates. Pressing the joystick leftward applies the brake. The transmission audibly shifts as the player's car accelerates and decelerates.
Grand Prix is a time trial, and the competing cars are obstacles rather than competition for the finish line. The player's car can easily outpace the other cars, but if it collides with one, its speed drops lower than that of the impacted car. Driving over an oil slick causes the player's car to skid slightly sideways, but does not slow it down. Once every scale mile, the player crosses a narrow bridge over blue water. Colliding with any wall of the bridge stops the car, and the player must slowly gain speed to continue. A patch of oil slicks precedes a bridge. This both forewarns the player, and presents a hazard while trying to steer onto the bridge.
Competing cars cross do not cross bridges nor the finish line; if they approach either one, they stop suddenly.
Each of the game's four race tracks is a straight lined with trees. The shortest, simplest course is Watkins Glen. Brands Hatch is about twice as long as Watkins Glen, and has one bridge. Le Mans is about three times as long as Watkins Glen, and has two bridges. Monaco is about five times as long as Watkins Glen, and has three bridges.
The tracks in Grand Prix are named after real Formula One circuits. Watkins Glen International, near Watkins Glen, New York, was the site of the United States Grand Prix from 1961 to 1980. Brands Hatch, near the English town of Swanley, hosted the British Grand Prix in even-numbered years from 1964 through 1986. The city of Le Mans is the site of the Bugatti Circuit, which hosted the French Grand Prix in 1967. Circuit de Monaco, a street circuit in Monte Carlo, first hosted the Monaco Grand Prix in 1950. After four years of Formula Two races, the annual F1 Monaco Grand Prix resumed, and has returned each year since 1955.
Although the race tracks in Grand Prix are named after these circuits, they are not reproductions of them.
In 1995, Activision republished the game in the anthology Activision's Atari 2600 Action Pack for Windows 95.
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