Interstate '76

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Interstate '76
Interstate '76 Coverart.png
Director(s)Sean Vesce
Producer(s)Scott Krager
Designer(s)Zachary Norman
Programmer(s)Dan Stanfill
Artist(s)Rick Glenn
Writer(s)Zachary Norman
Composer(s)Arion Salazar
EngineMechWarrior 2
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • NA: February 28, 1997
  • EU: 1997
Genre(s)Vehicular combat
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Interstate '76 is a vehicular combat video game for Microsoft Windows. It was developed and published by Activision and released in 1997.[1]

The game is set in the Southwestern United States in an alternate history of the year 1976, in which the 1973 oil crisis was never resolved. All the in-game vehicles in Interstate '76 are based on real cars, including many period American muscle cars.


A battle in the game between Groove Champion's Picard Piranha (orange) and a Phaedra Rattler.

There are four play modes available in the game: the "T.R.I.P." (an acronym for "Total Recreational Interactive Production"), which follows the game's protagonists in an episodic story; "Multi Melee", an on-line deathmatch version of the game; "Auto Melee", a deathmatch with computer-driven cars; and "Scenarios", short free-standing adventures featuring the game's protagonists. The primary difference between the scenarios and the T.R.I.P., length of play aside, is that the player has a much broader choice of vehicles in the scenario mode, while the player is limited to only one car during most of the T.R.I.P. mode. The game's vehicles are faithful reproductions of various cars and trucks from the era, both in appearance and driving characteristics, though the names have been changed.

The game is based on the engine used for Activision's MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat, and requires a fair amount of strategy through the course of the game, as the player must balance the vehicle's armor and weapon load-outs appropriately in order to successfully complete the various missions. In the game's story mode, the player must also manage and repair equipment salvaged from the wrecks of opponents.


Lead designer Zack Norman recounted, "The idea came from a desire to use the Mech [Warrior] II technology to the next level and make a real action-simulation hybrid - a vehicle action simulation - but also infuse it with a style and a soul that hadn't been exploited before."[2] The inspiration to set the game in the 1970s came when Norman was contemplating using his bonus from MechWarrior II to buy a 1970s muscle car.[2]

The developers eschewed the convention of using more detailed models for cutscenes, preferring that the game remain stylistically consistent across the interactive and non-interactive portions.[2] Considerable modification of the MechWarrior II engine was needed, as director Sean Vesce explained: "If you look at the Mech II engine, it had a long and difficult history, developed by a large team of programmers over the course of two or three years under the direction of several producers, with a lot of trials and tribulations before it went out the door. As you can imagine, the technology was held together with super glue and bubble gum. So when we got our hands on it, we really had to gut a lot of the systems."[2]


Interstate '76[edit]

Interstate '76
Aggregate score
Review scores
CGW4.5/5 stars[4]
Game RevolutionB+[7]
Next Generation4/5 stars[12]
PC Gamer (US)93%[9]
PC Zone79%[10]
Entertainment WeeklyA-[11]

In the United States, the game sold 74,028 copies during 1997.[13] Interstate '76 received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[3]

Next Generation stated that "none of the minor annoyances detract much at all from the game's overall impact. Interstate '76 easily lives up to the hype - it really is 'the funkiest PC game ever.'"[12] GamePro criticized the bland polygonal graphics, lack of detail in the backgrounds, and difficulty with simultaneously driving and shooting, but praised the funk soundtrack and characters, in particular opining, "Every barb from Taurus is a treasure".[14]

Interstate '76 was a runner-up for Computer Gaming World's 1997 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Quake II. The editors called Interstate '76 "more stylish and original [than Quake II], but it suffered a lack of good 3D support and an irritating save feature."[15]

Interstate '76 was a finalist for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' 1997 "Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music" award,[16] which ultimately went to PaRappa the Rapper.[17]

In 1998, PC Gamer declared it the 26th-best computer game ever released, and the editors called it "the most original action game released in a decade".[18]

The Interstate '76 Arsenal[edit]

The Interstate '76 Arsenal
Aggregate score
Review scores
CGW4/5 stars[20]
Game RevolutionB+[21]

The Interstate '76 Arsenal also received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings.[19]


Interstate '76 spawned a prequel/stand-alone expansion pack, Nitro Pack (known as Interstate '76: Nitro Riders in some territories), and a direct sequel, Interstate '82, as well as the Vigilante 8 spin-off series for video game consoles. A graphically enhanced version of the original game, Interstate '76: Gold Edition, was also released. The Gold Edition was later bundled with the Nitro Pack expansion as The Interstate '76 Arsenal. On 18 February 2010 released a downloadable version of The Interstate '76 Arsenal.[23]

The film rights to the game were acquired in March 1998 by 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment.[24]


  1. ^ "Interstate '76 -". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "NG Alphas: Interstate '76". Next Generation. No. 23. Imagine Media. November 1996. pp. 147–150.
  3. ^ a b "Interstate '76 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  4. ^ Green, Jeff (June 1997). "Super Groovalistic (Interstate '76 Review)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World (155): 130–33. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  5. ^ "PC Review: Interstate 76". Computer and Video Games. 1997.
  6. ^ Edge staff (May 1997). "Interstate '76". Edge (45).
  7. ^ Dr. Moo (April 1997). "Interstate '76 Review". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on 17 April 2004. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  8. ^ Dulin, Ron (1 April 1997). "Interstate '76 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  9. ^ Bennett, Dan (June 1997). "Interstate '76". PC Gamer: 76. Archived from the original on 24 December 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  10. ^ "PC Review: Interstate '76". PC Zone. 1997.
  11. ^ Walk, Gary Eng (25 April 1997). "Interstate '76". Entertainment Weekly (376). Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 31. Imagine Media. July 1997. p. 164.
  13. ^ Staff (April 1998). "How Did the PCG Award Winners Fare?". PC Gamer US. 5 (4): 45.
  14. ^ Scary Larry (June 1997). "PC GamePro Review: Interstate '76". GamePro. No. 105. IDG. p. 56.
  15. ^ Staff (March 1998). "CGW Presents The Best & Worst of 1997". Computer Gaming World (164): 74–77, 80, 84, 88, 89.
  16. ^ "The Award; Award Updates". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on June 15, 1998.
  17. ^ "The Award; Award Updates". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on June 15, 1998.
  18. ^ The PC Gamer Editors (October 1998). "The 50 Best Games Ever". PC Gamer US. 5 (10): 86, 87, 89, 90, 92, 98, 101, 102, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 118, 125, 126, 129, 130.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ a b "The Interstate '76 Arsenal for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  20. ^ Green, Jeff (June 1998). "All Funked Up (The Interstate '76 Arsenal Review)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World (167): 189. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  21. ^ Anderson, Tom (April 1998). "Interstate '76: Arsenal [sic] Review". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on 13 June 1998. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  22. ^ Dulin, Ron (20 March 1998). "[The] Interstate '76 Arsenal Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  23. ^ Mackey, Bob (18 February 2010). "Get Your Groove on with Interstate '76". Archived from the original on 10 March 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  24. ^ Chetwynd, Josh (6 March 1998). "Fox, Davis win '76' film rights". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2013.

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