ATR: All Terrain Racing, released in 1995 by Team 17, is a top down racer for the Commodore Amiga and was also released on the CD32. Here we review the standard Amiga version.
Like many Team 17 games, All Terrain Racing presentation in terms of graphics and sound is excellent. There are 3 main game modes, Arcade, Battle & League. Let’s take a look at the Arcade mode first of all. You get a choice of 3 stages, Sports, Canyon and Forest. Each stage has a series of tracks for you to race against your opponents, as well as a bunch of tracks based in Space if you can clear the first few stages. The sports tracks are race track orientated, with oil spills to avoid and are a good entry point into the game. Canyon tracks are exactly as they sound, racing around tracks within a canyon with a lot of water hazards to slow you down, this is where the difficulty takes a step up. Then the forest tracks, these are really where you have to master the game and remember the track layout since there are many obstacles and ice patches that will send you spinning off into the trees! You get a choice of 3 vehicles to choose from, a 4x4 Jeep, Buggy and Formula car. Each has their own qualities, but generally go from slow in the 4x4, medium pace in the Buggy and then fastest in the Formula car.
Before each race, you can upgrade your vehicle in the shop, purchasing upgrades for your engine for speed, gearbox for acceleration, tyre for grip and so on. Cash for your upgrades are earned by finishing races as high up as possible, as well as picking up the cash bonuses as you race around each track. There are also plenty of other power ups to collect as you drive, including turbo boosts, armour upgrades and car damage repair.
All Terrain Racing can be very frustrating, mainly because of the limited amount of the track you can see, so memorising tracks is crucial if you are going to master the game. Although I would not necessarily note this as a criticism as such, because this is very much a mark of top down racers of the time. The handling is very arcadey and has a good sliding mechanic where if you keep your accelerator down going around corners, eventually you start to skid/drift around the corner which feels really satisfying. There are lots of obstacles and annoying traffic cones, but then again, this is all part of the level design, no point in making things too easy! Going back to this kind of game now can be a bit off putting with the initial difficulty curve, but persevere and you are rewarded with a really fun arcade racer experience.
Next, let’s take a look at the battle mode. Anybody who is familiar with Micro Machines multiplayer will feel quite at home here. The main difference is that when your opponent falls back off the screen, the game does not pause, but instead drags your opponent back to you again and rewards you with points. You also get points for crossing the start/finish line ahead of your opponent. You get all the same tracks/obstacles, but with the addition of missiles if you wish to activate them in the game.
In league mode, it is essentially battle mode, but instead you can have more than two players taking part, each taking turns to race one on one but with a league table to determine the winner. Both battle and league modes are great little additions to the game, giving things more value in terms of multiplayer.
What did the amiga magazines at the time say?
A very late game in the Amiga’s life, All Terrain Racing was generally really well received, with many of the Amiga magazines at the time reviewing the game favourably in the mid 80% area. However, Amiga Power did publish a scathing review of the game (although it is linked to an ongoing tit for tat dispute between the magazine and Team 17), they rated All Terrain Racing at a stinking 38%! When you compare this to the majority of the reviews received elsewhere, this was obviously biased.
Amiga Computing gave the game a great 89% saying “they were sceptical, but ATR was done so professionally that it won them round.”
Amiga Action gave 88%, saying that the game is “right up there with Roadkill” but “just missed out on 90% due to it being a bit tricky to follow sometimes”.
CU Amiga gave 85% saying it is “Overdrive – with go faster stripes!”.
And as mentioned previously, Amiga Power rated the game 38%. They said the positives were that “The cards move well and go vroom”, but they obviously then had some venting to do. They summarise, “ATR manages, astonishingly, to be less exciting than Overdrive, and is an embarrassment alongside Micro Machines and Roadkill. A stunningly poor game”.
“Appallingly unworkable tracks that play boringly and feel empty. Very few shortcuts. Not nearly enough of the track ahead visible. Hasty feel to the whole thing. In two-player mode it’s extremely difficult to tell who’s who. In league mode, all players have to use player one’s joystick. Strangely, they’ve made the second-least-poor tracks (the space ones) a ‘hidden feature’. You get infuriating slowing cones all over the track even when you turn them off.”Amiga Power Magazine
So, that scathing review no doubt brought the average score down significantly! But what did I think of the game? Looking at the game as I played it today as well as remembering what I liked about it all those years ago, I would give the game a 3.5 out of 5, it’s aged reasonably well in terms of it’s looks and sound, and for the most, the gameplay too. It’s mainly the limited view of the track which can be a sticking point, but definitely a game I would recommend giving a go.