Atari Freeway with Arduino

"Freeway" is a classic video game developed by Activision, a notable name in the gaming industry. Released in 1981, "Freeway" was designed for the Atari 2600, one of the most popular home video game consoles of the early 1980s. The game was created by David Crane, a prominent figure in the video game development during that era. Allow me to ruin it. Atari freeway poster

The premise of "Freeway" is simple and engaging. Players control a chicken attempting to cross a highway filled with fast-moving cars. The objective is to get the chicken safely across the road without getting hit by the vehicles. The game's concept bears a resemblance to the age-old joke, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" adding a playful twist to the game's theme. "Freeway" features a straightforward two-dimensional graphic style, typical of the games from the early 1980s. The visuals are basic, with the cars and chicken rendered in blocky, pixelated graphics, yet they possess a certain charm that is characteristic of early video games. The gameplay is easy to understand but can be challenging to master, as the speed and pattern of the vehicles vary, requiring quick reflexes and strategic timing from the player.

Back in 1980s

One of the distinctive features of "Freeway" is its two-player mode, allowing two players to compete simultaneously. Each player controls a chicken, and the goal is to see who can cross the highway the most times. This competitive aspect adds an extra layer of excitement to the game. Needless to say my arduino version is only for one player. Despite its simplicity, "Freeway" was well-received at the time of its release. A suprise hit for Activision for over 1000000 copies sold. It stood out for its easy-to-learn mechanics and its engaging, albeit repetitive, gameplay. The game is often remembered for its contribution to the early days of home video gaming and is considered a classic among retro gaming enthusiasts.

My Arduino version

Arduino version of activision freeway

As always, my choise of display type will induce some limitations. First thing to go was second player. It's difficult enough to play two player game on 1,3" display (I KNOW RIGHT!?), but this time chicken and car sprites are so big, there's simply not enough room for two players. But I could add sideways movements for the single chicken. Another obvious change is the number of lanes. Only four, not ten like in the original. But there is two different game modes, timed game and three lives game. To add a little variety.

My pixel art skillz are not improving, neither is my ability to design sprites. But it's fine... It's fine. Small resolution will forgive a lot. And it looks like I'll be making even more of these old Atari games in the future. Atari Stunt Cycle is almost complete.

Over the years, "Freeway" has maintained a niche following. It represents a nostalgic piece of video game history, illustrating the evolution of gaming and the innovative spirit of early game developers like David Crane. For contemporary gamers, playing "Freeway" offers a glimpse into the rudimentary yet creative origins of the modern gaming industry. And yes, I do romanticize the early days. Smoking pot at Atari while making weird video games. That must have been fantastic time.

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