[MACHINE] Handheld Electronic Game
Auto Race © 1976 Mattel Electronics.
The player's car is represented by a bright blip (a vertical dash sign) on the bottom of the screen. The player must make it to the top of the screen 4 times (4 laps) to win, but, while make it towards the top, the player must swerve past other cars using the switch at the bottom of the system to toggle between three lanes. If hit by a car, the player's vehicle keeps moving back towards the bottom of the screen until it gets out of the other car's way. The goal is to beat the game before the 99 seconds (as high as the two digit timer can show) given are up, and to get the shortest time possible. The player's car has four gears and the faster the gear, the faster the other cars come at it.
Mattel's Auto Race was the first in the line of many Mattel Electronics games, and is credited with being the first handheld game that was entirely digital, even predating the Milton Bradley's Microvision, having no moving mechanisms except the controls and on/off switch.
Sales of Mattel Auto Race beat expectations. Mattel in the 1970s, known mostly for Barbie Dolls and Hot Wheels, was at first skeptical of products based on electronics, especially at what was considered a high price point at the time ($24.99 retail). The success of Auto Race convinced Mattel to proceed with the development of Mattel Football which was often sold out and in short supply and this lead to the creation of a new Mattel Electronics Division in 1978, which for a time was extremely profitable.