By Scott Stilphen
This game was first announced at the 1982/83 Winter CES and later mentioned in the April 1983 issue of Creative Computing magazine. A prototype was shown at the Summer 1983 CES. Artwork also appeared in a 1983 flyer (shown below). The game was outsourced by CommaVid and designed by Ben Burch, who was actually a consultant hired by CommaVid. Ironically, Burch was in an automobile accident during the development and it's believed the project was eventually scrapped before completion. 2 different descriptions exist:
(from Winter 1982/83 press release) "You're in a hurry and you can't afford to be one minute late. You are driving along smoothly and then you're caught in a drivers nightmare - a traffic jam during rush hour. But you just won't creep along - you must blast, dodge, and weave your way through the traffic until you reach your destination."
(from Summer 1983 press release) "Caught in a drivers nightmare, a traffic jam during rush hour, you must blast, dodge, and weave your way through high speed traffic. Your super auto is equipped with lazer-blasting headlights; but you must avoid the debris cluttering the autobahn to reach your destination. This new concept in driving/racing video game will challenge the most sophisticated driver."
A finished box (shown below) and 7 unfinished prototype versions (all 4K) were archived from Dr. John Bronstein in September 2002. From the box description, there were a few elements that were never fully implemented (running over nails have no effect on your car, you don't have to pull over for repairs, etc.). Although the original prototypes are quite buggy (at times even unplayable), CGE Services (who at that time acquired the rights to all of CommaVid's properties) asked Digital Eclipse's Mike Mika and Zach Matley if they could help fix the major glitches with it - the result being it's now stable enough to run and enjoyable to play! 250 boxed reproduction copies of this modified version were released at CGE2K3.
There are 9 different game variations, which range in difficulty from easiest (1 - slowest carriers) to hardest (9 - fastest carriers). Pushing LEFT triggers the turbo/retro-rockets, increasing your speed. Pushing RIGHT applies the brakes. Change lanes by pushing either UP or DOWN. The FIRE button fires the headlight lasers, and also starts/restarts the game. The TV Type switch controls the pause feature: When set to B&W, the game will be paused. To un-pause, simply switch it back to COLOR. The Difficulty switches don't seem to have any affect.
The objective is to race along a crowded 5-lane freeway at rush hour in an effort to stop the 5 barriers (? - they're never explained, so I'll refer to them as car carriers) from losing any cars and causing a huge traffic jam. You must reach them before they get too far ahead, as denoted by the radar screen. You'll encounter various other cars before reaching the carriers, along with nails and other debris. You can choose to go around the vehicles, or destroy them by using either the headlight lasers or the retro-rockets. Each car that you destroy is worth 20 points. Each carrier is also worth 20 points. Destroying all 5 carriers on level one is worth 600 bonus points. This increases by 600 for each level. At level 9, the carrier bonus is 5,400.
Colliding with any vehicle will cause damage to your car and compromise your control of it - the severity of which varies based on how fast you were going when you hit them (note that you can also be hit from behind if you're traveling too slowly). These factors also determine how many hits your car can take before being completely destroyed (between 1 to 5, and possibly more). Wreckage from shooting a car is just as deadly, and running into a carrier spells instant death! Minor damage will automatically be repaired after a few minutes; major damage takes much longer, and most likely will result in the carriers getting away.
Just before you reach the carriers, all traffic will suddenly come to a screeching halt! Once you catch up to them, you must destroy them one at a time. When they are about to release a car, they'll turn while - this is the only time they're vulnerable! After successfully eliminating all 5 carriers, the chase will start anew at the next highest level. Remember- you only have 1 car (1 chance, with no opportunity to earn more), so be careful!
It's unfortunate that the original programmer never got to finish it, as it could very well have been CommaVid's best title, or at the very least it's most colorful (it's the only one without a black background).
CommaVid's ad for the game.
Original box. 250 boxed copies were made.
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