Street Racer (1977 video game)

Street Racer is a racing video game developed for the Atari Video Computer System, later known as the Atari 2600. It was programmed by Larry Kaplan[1] and released by Atari, Inc. in September 1977 as one of the nine Atari VCS launch titles.[2][3] The game was also published by Sears for their Tele-Games product line as Speedway II.[4]

Street Racer
Street Racer
Developer(s)Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s)Atari, Inc.
Designer(s)Larry Kaplan[1]
Platform(s)Atari 2600
  • NA: September 11, 1977
Mode(s)Single-player, Multiplayer (up to four players)


Gameplay screenshot

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:[4]

  • 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.[citation needed]


As one of the earliest games written for the platform, Street Racer suffered from unattractive, blocky graphics.[citation needed] 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 with Digital Press, 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[6]

Kaplan 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.[7]


Street Racer was reviewed in Video magazine as part of a general review of the Atari VCS where it was given a review score of 5.5 out of 10.[8]: 33  The game did not age well and modern critics have given it poor reviews as well. Gamasutra have described the "Number cruncher" sub-game as a highlight of the game.[9]


  1. ^ a b Hague, James. "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  2. ^ Yarusso, Albert. "Atari 2600 - Atari - Text # Label Variation". AtariAge. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Bogost, Ian; Montfort, Nick (2009). Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. MIT Press. pp. 123, 163. ISBN 978-0-262-01257-7.
  4. ^ a b Yarusso, Albert. "Atari 2600 - Street Racer (Atari)". AtariAge. 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. ^ Buchanan, Levi (August 26, 2008). "Top 10 Best-Selling Atari 2600 Games". IGN. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Deeny, ed. (Winter 1979). "VideoTest Report Number 18: Atari Video Computer". Video. Reese Communications. 1 (5): 30–34. ISSN 0147-8907.
  9. ^ Fulton, Steve (November 6, 2007). "The History of Atari: 1971-1977". Gamasutra. Retrieved December 5, 2010.

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