Night Driver [Upright model]

Arcade Video game published 46 years ago by Atari, Inc.

Not listed in MAME yet.

Night Driver © 1976 Atari, Incorporated.

Night Driver is a simple two-dimensional driving game. Your perspective is from behind the wheel of the car as you drive down the highway. The object is to score points by getting as much distance as possible in the least amount of time. Those who are good enough can get bonus time for a specific amount of points. Beware, though, it will not be as easy as it seems.

Goodies for Night Driver [Upright model]
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[Upright model]

Game ID : 006321

Main CPU : MOS Technology M6502 (@ 1.008 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Discrete

Players : 1
Control : Steering wheel, gas pedal, gear shift (1-4)


Night Driver was released in October 1976.

Also released as "Night Driver [Highway sitdown model]".

This game was first released by a small company named Micronetics and later picked up by Atari. Night Driver was the first 'first-person' driving game (only Atari's second sitdown, "Hi-Way" was the first). 2,100 units were produced.

After a nearly 50-year run, the mid-1970s video games like Night Driver spelled the end of the electro-mechanical arcade games (such as "Killer Shark" seen in the movie Jaws). Video games would spawn a nation-wide phenomenon which has gone on to this day.

Night Driver was one of many mid-1970's Atari games such as "Starship 1", "Sprint 2" and "Drag Race" which were often found at carnivals and bowling alleys. Kids would flock to these establishments just to get an opportunity to play the games rather than the primary source of entertainment they offered. When the 80's arrived, video games could be found everywhere including grocery stores and kids didn't have to go very far to play their favorite game.

From Dave Shepperd : "This was the second game I programmed while at Atari. I was given a piece of paper with a picture of a game cabinet that had a small portion of the screen visible. I don't recall if it was an actual flyer for the game or simply a Xerox of the front page of the flyer. I recall it being German or maybe I was just told it was a German game. I never saw the game play nor did I know what scoring was used on that game, only that there were a few little white squares showing. With that germ of an idea, out popped Nite Driver. I have fond memories of spending time watching the white lines in the street and fence posts whiz by my car as I drove to and from work trying to work out in my mind's eye what kind of math I can use to make little squares on a TV kind of do the same thing."

A Night Driver unit appears in the 1978 movie 'Dawn of the Dead'.

Goodies for Night Driver [Upright model]
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Scoring in this game is really simple. Your score is tied to distance traveled so obviously you want to cover the most amount of distance in the shortest period of time.

The game will start you off with either 100 or 125 seconds to get the required 350 points for extra time.


* When you start the game, you will have a choice of which track you want to drive on. Your choices are : Novice, Expert, and Pro. The track selected directly effects your points/distance ratio. Obviously, the harder the track the faster the points go up. Of course, the harder the track, the more twists, turns, and narrow sections you must deal with.

* Try to stay in the middle of the road as much as possible. Especially around curves since it is very easy to run into the fence posts.

* Learn how to use the gears and gas pedal with proficiency. This is better to let up on the gas or downshift on curves then trying to barrel through them at top speed. It takes a lot more time to get off a fence post then if you had just taken the curve slower.

* Your goal is to get the points necessary to get bonus time. Once you get proficient at one track, go to the next track. After a while, you will find that the Expert and Pro tracks are actually easier then the Novice track.

* Steering on this game is pretty easy although you need to watch out since the car does have a tendency to drift. Small corrections in the steering should keep that problem in check.


Designed & programmed by : Dave Shepperd


[US] Atari 2600 (1978) "Night Driver [Model CX2633]"
Atari 2600 [EU] (1978) "Night Driver [Model CX2633P]"
DynaVision [BR] (198?)

[US] Apple II
[US] Commodore C64 (1982)


Game's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc