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Sprint 8 was an old arcade game released by Kee Games way back in 1977 (Kee Games was one of Atari Games' old pseudonyms).

The story

This was the third in the series of Sprint games, including Sprint 2, Sprint 4, Sprint 8, Sprint One, Super Sprint, and Championship Sprint. They were actually released in that order. The number designation does not indicate a sequel, it merely indicates the number of players the machine supports, which means that this one can take eight players at once. This is also one of the only eight player arcade games ever made. This one is based on the original Sprint 2 hardware and software, but it has so many changes that it is a totally new game (unlike Sprint One, and Sprint 4, which are only minor changes on the original Sprint 2). The biggest change that emulator users will notice is that Sprint 8 is in color, while all the other numbered Sprints are black and white.

The game

In this game you control a race car on a semi-complicated track. You are looking down on the action from above. Your only goal is to drive around the track as many times as possible, and as fast as you can. There will be eight cars on the track at all times. With the computer controlling cars for missing players.

The sheer number of cars can make this game a little confusing. All the cars have minor variations to set them apart from the others, but are similar enough that you simply cannot look away from the track for a second. If you are used to the other Sprint games, you will find that this one is a bit different, the graphics are slightly higher in resolution, and the tracks are much more complex, and have a different look to them, not to mention the fact that this version adds a brake pedal that was absent in the other Sprint titles.

The game has several different tracks available, and you can select them with a button at the start of a match. The graphics are simple black and white with two shades of gray thrown in for good measure. They are simple, but they get the job done, if you enjoyed games on your Atari 2600, then you will be able to enjoy this one. If you are the kind of person who needs 45 million gourad shaded, bump mapped, texture compressed polygons flying at you every second, I would advise you to look elsewhere.

The game will rate you at the end, you can get rated Granny, Rookie, or Pro, and getting a score over 250 points will extend the game an extra 30 seconds.

The Machine

Sprint 8 came in one form, that of a huge black and tan standing cocktail table, and I do mean huge, this thing is larger than your dining room table. It has a large four sided marquee raised up above the table on posts to a height of about seven feet. Scattered all around the table are steering wheels, gas pedals, and coin mechs.

Each side of the table is equipped with driving stations for two players, with each station having a steering wheel, two pedals, a four position shifter, a start button, and a level select button. Those controls were unique in their form, but not in function, and can be replaced with modern off the shelf replacement parts.

All of the game circuits are built into a single very large PCB, which also has an integrated power supply. This is a bad design, and produces excess heat. There are 8 individual plug in cards, one for each car. If you have one of these you should place a small fan inside your cabinet pointing at the PCB to prolong its life.

Where to play

Currently this game is supported by Mame, but they don't quite have all the inputs right, and I don't think full 8-player action is supported yet. There is a good reason why no emulator fully supports this game. It requires an insane amount of inputs, all of which must be able to be active at once. This game has 8 steering wheels, 16 pedals, 8 shifters with four positions each, and 16 buttons. That makes for a total of 24 analog inputs, and 48 digital inputs, all of which must be able to work at the same time (that is not even counting the coin mechs. Currently with normal PC hardware, you would have to buy a special flight control interface card at the cost of several hundred dollars, and do custom programming to get that many analog inputs. This game may never be properly emulated because of that.

There is only one question you have to ask yourself if you have the opportunity to add this to your arcade game collection, that question is "Do I have enough space?". This game takes up almost as much room as a pool table, that space could probably house nearly 10 normal arcade games. If you have the space (and a truck large enough to haul it), then go for it. You should also keep in mind that there is only one complete Sprint 8 known to be left in the entire world, and many other people are looking for one.

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