Sprint One was an old arcade game released by Kee Games way back in 1978 (Kee Games was one of Atari Games' old pseudonyms).

The story

This was the fourth of a whole series of Sprint games, including Sprint 2, Sprint 4, Sprint 8, 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.

This game was designed by Dennis Koble (who later went on to make games for Imagic) and Lyle Rains. This was the last of the Sprint titles based on the original Sprint 2 hardware and software, future titles in the series were made from scratch.

The game

In this game you control a race car on a semi-circular 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 four cars on the track at all times (the computer lets you know that "Grey cars drive automatically").You control the white car, while the computer controls a black car and two grey cars. The only real tip I can give you is to avoid the oil slicks, and staying in 3rd gear seems to get good results for me (although my MAME cabinet controls were not optimally configured for this game, you may be able to blast away in 4th gear the entire time without crashing.

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 game has several different tracks available, and they change randomly throughout the game (they literally change while you are still driving). This is different than the original Sprint 2, which allowed you to select your track manually. 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 Machine

Sprint One came in two forms, that of a plain woodgrain upright, and much rarer upright with sideart. This common woodgrain version had no sideart, of any kind. It only had a few modest decorations around the control pane and monitor. Atari simply didn't put the work into this one that they put into the previous Sprint titles, it seems they made this one only to fill up a gap in their product line.

The control panel featured a steering wheel that had 360 degree movement (and worked off an optical encoder), a gas pedal and a four position shifter. All of 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 large PCB, which also has an integrated power supply. This is a bad design, and produces excess heat. 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

You can play this game with the Mame emulator, although controls may be an issue, as most people do not have a 360 degree steering wheel hooked up to their computer. A trackball will work in a pinch, but it is not authentic (turn the analog control sensitivity settings way down for best results).

This is one title that is definitely worth adding to your arcade game collection. The gameplay has stood the test of time (having been re-used for many newer games such as Super Off Road). Although I would try to get one of the multiplayer versions instead. I currently own a mint condition one that has a boardset problem.

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