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Enduro (Atari 2600) artwork

Enduro (Atari 2600) review

"It's a race against boredom."

Enduro (Atari 2600) image

Oh, to travel the United States... To hear the roar of your engine as you rev it and blaze past all of the slowpokes and clueless journeyers... It's one thing to cruise the continent, but it's an entirely different beast to literally race across it. The Atari 2600 game Enduro promised to engage that part of your imagination and provide for you the experience of zooming past unsuspecting opponents. The only problem is that the game ends up feeling like a "caught in traffic" simulator...

As with any 2600 title, Enduro is simple to pick up and play. Pressing the button allows you to accelerate, topping speeds that send opposing splotches whizzing by you. Timing is key when navigating the forbidding landscape. Sometimes you may need to release the gas so that you might ease past a fellow racer rather than rear end him. Other occasions call for risky behavior, presenting you with a scenario in which your only exit is a narrow slot between to automobiles. Accomplishing these tasks depends on the duration and frequency of button presses. With a proper rhythm, you should be able to weave through vast columns of vehicles without much difficulty.

At least until you begin the second stage...

It should come to your attention at that point that the driver population has exploded. With a greater number of cars on the road, there are fewer opportunities for daring maneuvers. More often than not, you'll find yourself boxed into a corner without a means of escape, and your only choice then is to charge straight into another competitor's fender and accept your fate. Thankfully, you won't explode and lose a life, but you will careen out of control while sands within the game's invisible hour glass continue to drop. You can afford only a few such mistakes, but slip too many times and you'll find yourself with the time expiring before you can reach the next destination.

Now and then the colors shift from gorgeous greens to pale pastures or somber fields. Learn to dread this, dear player, because there are palettes that signify your demise. White represents the snowy fields that randomly pop up around America. When ice is present, side-to-side motion is a struggle, as the control response stiffens considerably. This might seem like the pinnacle of terrible until you encounter the pitch blackness of midnight. It's at this time that you discover that none of the other drivers possess tail lights that are visible beyond four car lengths. With such poor vision, it's not irregular to slam into someone's back bumper.

Enduro (Atari 2600) image

Suffice it to say that Enduro is a challenging game. Those who know me might expect me to twist my nipple and gush over the deliciously strenuous experience, but the truth is I can't stand Enduro. Most effective difficult games present their perils as trials or adversity. If you're like me, you'll meet these hardships with a crooked grin and a few f-bombs burning on the tip of your tongue. In spite of difficulty, a well made hard game always beckons you to resume your quest in the hopes of basking in the warm glow of triumph. Enduro, however, is more off-putting than inviting.

Enduro's challenge rating is more akin to navigating city roads during rush hour. In other words, it's the farthest thing from feeling like a race across the US. You see, as you advance you can spot oncoming contestants on the horizon, but you can't always tell where they're ultimately going to end up. This is problematic because the game demands the utmost of your precision during the latter stages, and it's hard to be precise when a car is "maybe a little to the left, maybe kind of in the middle, maybe- crap, I rammed him."

The worst is when you encounter a situation in which you have to screech to a dull roll because numerous vehicles choke the track. Were you in an actual car, you might take this moment to pound on the horn or maybe roll your window down and scream obscenities at the apparent nitwits ahead of you. Within the game, it's inevitable that you'll ding someone's ride and end up losing time as you spin out of control. Because these clusters take a little time to break up, you will likely end up smashing into the same driver repeatedly.

Enduro (Atari 2600) image

Call me crazy, but little of Enduro's material smacks of emerging victorious in the face of a most punishing foe or danger. Instead, you might feel like you're spending whole sessions with the game trying not to let your road rage get the better of you. This is the kind of frustration I'm attempting to escape when I play a video game.

Although its heart is in the right place, Enduro is a tedious racing game that does only a ho-hum to subpar job of capturing the exhilaration of a cross country competition. More than anything, the game wonderfully depicts the everyday frustrations of city dwellers like myself as we travel to work, pick up our kids, and try to reach our banks before the teller window closes. We come to our consoles, computers, smart phones, and handheld platforms to flee from these mundane events, and I think a fair portion of us wouldn't be so thrilled to see them in a video game. Remember, we're a culture featuring people who haven't finished Grand Theft Auto IV because they couldn't be bothered to manage Niko's social life while gunning down mobsters. Do you think these same players are going to jump at the opportunity to play a game that perfectly emulates irksome traffic?


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (November 23, 2015)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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