Byte Driver – Review

Get radical and blast down the endless highway in Byte Driver, the latest game from Vector Hat.

Feeling like a long lost arcade cabinet from the early 80’s, Byte Driver is an interesting mix of games like Outrun, Night Driver and Spyhunter. As you make your way through the courses energy slowly depletes, hitting an object or obstacle will drain a larger percentage and hitting zero means game over. As you drive along you can hack opponents stealing energy or earning upgrades like improved vehicle stats, weapons or other consumables for your vehicle. Progressing through levels means harder enemies with more defensive and offensive skills will be there to oppose you in your pursuit of high scores.

Byte Driver definitely has some cool retro styling, looking like an old vector drawn game with screen shake and glitches being thrown in for good measure. There is also a monochrome mode for those that really want to embrace that real vector drawn feeling. The soundtrack is  fantastic and suits the style perfectly, filling sound and vision with pure 80s aesthetic that really gets you into the feel of the game. Being high score driven means that at low level play, Byte Driver is perfect for hot seat score comps with friends while high level play can be fought for with online leaderboards.

Byte Driver succeeds in evoking retro game feel and charm but, much like it’s early arcade peers, there isn’t much else to the game beyond 5 difficulty levels and high scores. Challenge does ramp up nicely as you progress and it can get real tough towards the end but with practice it’s easy to shoot for those high scores. The addition of a “low Stress” mode is nice for people to come to terms with the mechanics and allows you to play without the energy meter falling to zero for some more casual play.

There is a lot of fun to be had here and fans of classic arcade games will likely enjoy what Byte Driver has to offer, a well made and fantastic looking indie title.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

Follow Mat on Twitter and Twitch

 

 

Disclosure: Byte Driver was kindly provided by Vector Hat for this review.

 

 

Atari Star Wars: Ultimate Arcade Game Based On The Franchise

Star Wars, the arcade video game may have just celebrated its 34th anniversary, but did you know how much it cost to make and what George Lucas thought of the game?

The Star Wars franchise has been going from strength to strength for 40 years and there is no sign of its star power going supernova. Atari may have waited a few years to make their awesome vector based coin-op game on the great franchise, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Released amid the American video games crash, Atari’s Star Wars (1983) was a godsend for operators and players alike. With its distinct sit-down cockpit and upright versions invading amusement centres, Atari’s Coin-Op division created a buffer from the wreckage of the industry around it. Starting out as Warp Speed, Atari’s Mike Hally quickly changed the game title to Star Wars once Atari secured the license – and the rest as they say, is history.

Looking at the Atari Star Wars bill of materials, it is unbelievable to fathom that the arcade unit cost was a mere USD$1,249 back in 1983, which is (approx.) USD$3,090 in today’s money, which is still damn cheap! The arcade version was given the seal of approval from Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas with a plaque that reads, “A special thanks for creating THE FORCE behind so much fun”. Once inside the cockpit, Lucas was smitten and the game went gangbusters, selling thousands of units, making Atari (or more accurately, Time Warner) a ton of money!

The FORCE will always be with Atari’s classic coin-op. Always!

Atari Star Wars – cockpit concept sketch (source: arcade blogger)

The bill of material! (source: atarigames.com)

Cockpit prototype (source: atarigames.com)

The finished product! She is (still) a beaut!

Atari execs watch in anticipation as George Lucas takes a test fly! He likes it! (source: video-game-ephemera)

George getting some game play pointers from Atari’s Don Osborne (source: arcade blogger)

Our preferred arcade flyer (via: the arcade flyer archive)