Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Indy 500

Posted by Tracy Poff on January 7, 2009

Indy 500 for the Atari 2600 is a racing game, developed by Atari and published by Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1977.


The cover boasts “14 video games”, though, as with most Atari games, these were mostly small variations. Indy 500 contains three or, generously, four distinct games. Three of the four game types have both one- and two-player modes available. For these, the object in single-player mode is to obtain the highest score in one minute, and in multiplayer to outscore the opponent.

The first game, “Race Cars”, is just what it sounds. Two tracks are available, with the cars moving faster on the second. This game is pretty good with two players, but quite dull for solo play.

The second mode, “Crash N’ Score”, involves catching a dot that appears on the map. Once caught, it relocates itself randomly, rather like a snakes game without the growing tail. As before, the cars move faster on the second map. This is the best game for solo play.

Third, we have “Ice Race”. This is like “Race Cars”, except with different tracks, and the cars continue moving as though they were on ice, making it very difficult to turn. I just found this one frustrating.

The final game is “Tag”. If you’re ‘it’, you try to touch your opponent and then run away. Points are scored for each second while your opponent is trying to catch you. This one is two-player only.

Gameplay: 7/10
The controls work pretty well in “Race Cars”, though I found the turns a little too tight to manage on the second track. “Ice Race” was entirely too difficult to control–once you got to full speed, you would slide across half the screen before stopping, even if you turned the car to accelerate in the opposite direction. The controls in the other modes are as in “Race Cars”. Minus a point for “Ice Race” having such horrid controls, but otherwise not bad.
Graphics: 8/10
Though it was possible to do nicer graphics on the 2600, Indy 500 doesn’t look bad. The only real problem is that the blue car didn’t show up well on the ice background, making it difficult to tell which direction you were facing.
Sound: 7/10
The only sounds I noticed were the hum of the engines and the crash of cars hitting walls. Those effects were fairly well done, though the engine sound did get a little old after a while.
Personal Slant: 7/10
“Race Cars” in two-player mode is pretty good fun, and “Crash N’ Score” is similarly fun in single player. That’s a pretty good value, really.
Total: 7.3/10
Indy 500 may not exactly deliver the 14 games it claims, but “Race Cars” and “Crash N’ Score” are good enough by themselves to make this a worthwhile cartridge. Some later games of each type were better–I like R.C. Pro-Am for racing, and pretty much any snakes game–but for 1977, Indy 500 wasn’t bad at all. I’d definitely give it a go for the nostalgia, even if you shelve it in favor of newer games afterward.

One Response to “Indy 500”

  1. […] races, just sound effects. That said, what sound exists is not bad, but a little repetitive. Like Indy 500, the main sound we hear during the race is the constant roar of the engine. Unlike Indy 500, that […]

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