Hard Drivin

Arcade Video game published 34 years ago by Atari Games Corp.

Listed in MAME

Hard Drivin' [Model 136052] screenshot

Hard Drivin' © 1989 Atari Games.

Hard Drivin' is a 3-D racing game in which players take control of a sports car and must race over a course that features both a speed and a stunt section, with a fork in the road allowing players to choose on which sub-section they wish to race.

The game is rendered with filled 3D polygons and gameplay leans heavily towards a simulation style, with physics, inertia and active suspension all affecting the vehicle's handling. Players can choose between automatic and manual gears, with the manual option featuring a full, four-speed gearbox and clutch control. At the start of each race or after a crash, the player must start the car's ignition with a 'key'.

Each race is timed and players must reach checkpoints within the time limit. As well as the challenging physics and road surfaces - especially on the stunt section of the course - players must also contend with rival vehicles, including on-coming traffic. Hard Drivin' includes a replay feature that triggers whenever a player crashes.

Unlike other driving games of the time, the game's 3D environment didn't automatically restrict players to driving on the track, but after going off-road, players must return to the track within ten seconds or they will be automatically put back on the track with their car at a complete standstill, costing valuable vital seconds while they restart the ignition and resume driving.


Cockpit model
Game ID : 136052

Main CPU : Motorola 68010 (@ 8 Mhz), TMS34010 (@ 6 Mhz), TMS34010 (@ 6.25 Mhz), ADSP2100 (@ 8 Mhz)
Sound CPU : Motorola 68000 (@ 8 Mhz), TMS32010 (@ 5 Mhz)
Sound Chips : DAC

Hard Drivin' is equipped with center-feel steering with continuous force feedback, adjustable swivel seat, gas, brake and clutch pedals, four-speed stick shift, and a medium-resolution monitor.


Even if the title screen says 1988, Hard Drivin' was released in February 1989. This was the world's first driving simulator to use 3-D polygon graphics.

1668 units were produced in the USA and 200 in Ireland for European distribution. The selling price was $7995. There were 15 officially released versions, counting 11 cockpit and 4 compact versions, including various British, German and Japanese versions.

Despite claiming to be a real driving simulator, there were a lot of discrepancies between the game's software physics and the car physics on screen. However, the cockpit physics were considered very accurate at the time.

You may have noticed that the Credit Screen lists Doug Milliken as a Test Driver (See Staff section). He is listed as a Test Driver because Atari didn't want anyone to know what he really did. Hard Drivin' had to be as accurate as possible. That meant doing an accurate car model to mathematically describe the physics of how the parts of the car (engine, transmission, springs, shock absorbers, tires, etc.) react to each other, to the road and to the driver's inputs. The pioneer in the field (in the 1950s) was William Milliken of Milliken Research. His son, Doug, has continued his father's work. Doug is probably the world's leading expert in car modelling. Doug and his father wrote the book on car modelling.

Patents that come out of Hard Drivin' are :
5005148: 'Driving simulator with moving painted dashboard'.
5354202: 'System and method for driver training'.
5577913: 'System and method for driver training with multiple driver competition'.

Prior to the release of Hard Drivin', Namco had acquired a controlling interest in Atari games by 1986. The sharing of R&D information would spawn many games of the same polygon engine years later. It can be credited that the success of the Hard Drivin' engine set the trend for the high quality simulation games in the early 90's.

One of the buildings along the speed course, a small camouflage-painted building, if approached from behind (a non-trivial task, given the off-road time limit) has a sign above its normally-unseen door that says 'THE HUT'.

If the driver slowed down and stopped in front of one of the buildings, a 'keyhole' appeared on the building's door.

There is no apparent Ferrari license shown in any version of the game.

Jeff Garabedian holds the official record for this game with 531400 points at Aladdin's Castle at the Pontiac Mall in Waterford, MI in the summer of 1989.

Goodies for Hard Drivin' [Model 136052]
Click to see more
(members only)

Notes : In all British versions, you are in a right-hand drive car.

COCKPIT Revision 1 :
* World release.
* Software version : 7.8.

COCKPIT Revision 2 :
* World release.
* Software version : 7.9.

COCKPIT Revision 3 :
* World release.
* Software version : 8.1.

COCKPIT Revision 4 :
* German release only.
* Software version : 8.2.

COCKPIT Revision 5 :
* British release only.
* Software version : 8.3.

COCKPIT Revision 6
* British and Japanese releases only.
* Software version : 8.4 for Japanese and 8.5 for British.

COCKPIT Revision 7
* World, British and Japanese release.
* Software version : 8.6 for all.


If the driver made a hard left turn at the start of the game, a 'secret' track was available. The track was a long straight road leading to a very short circular track (a skid pad test track) around a tower.


1. Hard Drivin' [No. 136052] (1988)
2. Race Drivin' (1990)
3. Hard Drivin' II - Drive Harder (1991, ST/Amiga)
4. Hard Drivin's Airborne (1993)
5. Street Drivin' (1993)


* Main:
Project leader, game designer, sound system, mech designer, force shifter, analog HW : Rick Moncrief
Technician, mech, designer, sound recording, dashboard shift, game designer : Erik Durfey
Software designer, game designer, car model, force feedback steering, SW tools : Max Behensky
Hardware designer, self test, instant replay, integer 3D algorithms, game designer : Jed Margolin
Game programming, display software, championship lap, game designer : Stephanie Mott

* Others:
Cabinet designers : Mike Jang, Ken Hata
Graphics : Sam Comstock, Kris Moser, Deborah Short, Alan Murphy
Display math software : Jim Morris
ADDN'L programming : Gary Stark, Mike Albaugh, Ed Rotberg
ADDN'L hardware : Don Paauw
Marketing : Linda Benzler, Mary Fujihara
Sales : Shane Breaks
Mechanical designers : Jacques Acknin, Milt Loper, Geoff Barker
Test drivers : Doug Milliken, Dave Shepperd
Music : Don Diekneite
Management : Dan Van Elderen, Lyle Rains, Hide Nakajima
Technical Support, Administrative Support, Management, Manufacturing, Etc.: Jacob Abba, Jim Arita, Sam Arthur, Erwin Arvidson, Norm Avellar, Jeff Bell, David Bishop, Karen Bjorkquist, Pat Brosnan, Rob Bryant, James Buchanan, Mary Burnias, Carole Cameron, Hal Canon, Bart Carlee, Sang Cho, Dave Cook, Frank Cosentino, Emmette Craver, Gary Cunningham, Judy Davis, Andrea Dencker, Joseph Dieu, Kyoko Dougherty, Bob Dunster, Joyce Fluty, Leon Fritts, Brad Fuller, Cyndy Grossman, Tim Hale, Karen Harrington, Kevin Hayes, Mark Hoendervoogt, Candy Hudson, Rosalind Hutton, Arthur Jackson, Stevie Landaverde, Grandy Laxamana, Gerald Lichac, Maria Lopez, Norman Maeder, Melanie Martin, Glenn McNamara, Rick Meyette, George Millington, Alan J. Murphy, Ramon Navarro, Mike Nevin, Jim Newlander, Connie Osuna, Rick Owens, Evelyn Perez, Ralph Perez, Eric Peterson, Gary Popkin, Yolanda Records, Paul Shepard, Jackie Sherman, Mark Sherman, Elaine Shirley, Tom Smith, Bob Stewart, Mary Sumner, Peter L. Takaichi, Gwen Tantillo, Al Vernon, Marty Viljamaa, Tram Vu, Jim Wallin, Ken Williams, Wade Winblad, Dennis Wood, Don Wrightnour, The Atari Work Force

* Uncredited:
Team leader : John Ray


Nintendo NES: Unreleased prototype.
japan Sega Mega Drive (1990) "Hard Drivin' [Model T-48013]"
usa Atari Lynx (1991) "Hard Drivin' [Model PA2044]"
usa Sega Genesis (1991)
brazil Sega Mega Drive (1991) by Tec Toy.
europe Sega Mega Drive (1991)
australia Sony PlayStation 2 (2004) "Midway Arcade Treasures 2"
usa Microsoft XBOX (oct.11, 2004) "Midway Arcade Treasures 2 [Model MWO-3201W]"
usa Nintendo GameCube (oct.11, 2004) "Midway Arcade Treasures 2 [Model DOL-GAYE-USA]"
usa Sony PS2 (oct.11, 2004) "Midway Arcade Treasure 2 [Model SLUS-20997]"
europe Microsoft XBOX (oct.29, 2004) "Midway Arcadee Treasures 2"
europe Sony PS2 (oct.29, 2004) "Midway Arcade Treasure 2 [Model SLES-52844]"

usa europe Commodore C64 (1989)
usa Atari ST (1989)
europe Amstrad CPC (1989)
europe Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1989)
europe Commodore Amiga (1990)
usa PC [MS-DOS] (1990)
usa PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (feb.17, 2006) "Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition"
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (mar.17, 2006) "Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition" by Zoo Digital Publishing.


Game's ROM.
Game's picture.