Pitstop II

Foreword

By middle 80s, videogame developers considered an important market the fans of auto racing. Given the popularity of titles both in arcade and in home consoles.

Taking the solid base of their previous successful title, Pitstop, the company Epyx thought of tweaking it a bit, adding a new feature to the game: head-to-head competition between two human players. A really important feature at the time. The final product is a really funny and exciting auto racing videogame.

Datafile

Company: Epyx
Year: 1984
Platform: Commodore 64
Controller: One-button Joystick.

Game

Controls

Now the race is between two players and a few interlopers.

Why rock the boat? The control schema is still the same used by its predecessor, along with the feature of going to the pits to repair tires or reload fuel.

In this videogame, the first step is select the difficult level. Then select if it’s only competing in one track, or in the 3 available in the game (the order is random). The final step is setting the number of laps from 3 to 9. These settings determine the behaviour of the rival cars controlled by the A.I. and the damage to the tires.

Actually, the tires get damage at an increased speed, really notorious when taking the curves at a really high speed, even in the easiest level. This pumps up the difficulty of the videogame. Also, this is important, because forces the videoplayer to go to the pits more times than in the previous game.

You can see both racers have different point of view.

The main addition to the game is the head-to-head competition between two racers, being the two of them human, or one being the A.I. In the top half of the screen is the player 1 (always human on the inside), while the bottom is the player 2. This gives a really high sense of competition.

Because now, it’s not only to finish the race in the least amount of time possible, also you have to beat your rival, which you can see in the same screen. Yes, each racer has its own POV of the track, which is awesome. Also you have to time when to take the pits, because too few times, and the tires will blow, and too many times, the rival will surely win.

The control schema to enter the pits is the same as in the previous game. Look for the extra lane, and take it.

The tracks are different between versions, so they are not mentioned in this entry.

Other Platforms

Atari 8Bit

Do quick adjustments in the pits.

The control schema of the game is essentialy the same as the Commodore 64 one. Also the instruction manual, while the colors in the game are slightly different.

But the graphics are really different. Let’s start with the title screen, and one of the most notorious to me: how the pits look. I don’t know why the change, but personally, I prefer the style used in this port.

Difficulty-wise, there are not significant differences when compared to the Commodore 64 one.

Unlike the Pitstop videogame, in the Atari 8bit port, I did not have a lot of trouble to enter the pits, and controlling the crew either to change a tire, or to refuel the car.

In the track, it’s quite easy to spot damages in the tire, which is very helpful.

Apple II

Car 1 and Car 2, the number is the only way to distinguish them.

The Apple II computers had its port of this videogame, with many differences when compared to the original.

One of the most notorious is the color palette used. It looks interesting, but it’s also confusing and with a lot of limitations.

Let’s start with this: traditionally one player uses a car with one color, while the rival is identified with other color. Well, in this auto racing game, all of the cars involved use the same colors. The only visual difference is that the car used by player 1 has a 1 at the rear, while the player 2 has a 2.

The damage to the tires do not appear at the tires themselves, but in a graphic at the right. When the car at the bottom right has no tire, the next hit will be fatal. In fact, in this port, all the cars have less tolerance to hit other cars and can be quite common to see a car in flames, specially if you have trouble controlling the car. My situation, but I don’t know if the emulator used is to blame.

Another point worth considering is that it’s really hard to distinguish the exit to the pits. You have to rely on the track’s map, and when seeing the zone, try to get out of the road and press the joystick’s button. The perspective of ths pits is the same of the Atari 8 bit port.

When using an emulator, I found that the best model to emulate is the Apple IIc.

DOS Computers

Not exactly a sunrise painting from a classic artist.

By 1984, the DOS computers were receiving more and more videogame ports, it probably was perceived more and more like a suitable videogaming platform in the short term.

In many aspects, it’s essentialy the same than the previous two port, but with some particular feautres.

As we have written before, the DOS computers in those years, were only able to use one from two different color palettes, which often resulted in funny situations.

This is the first videogame of all the ones with entries in this blog, which can use the two color palettes. But it uses one or the another. If you’re curious to see how it looks with the other color palette, press here.

Just like the Apple II port, and it’s quite understable due to the limitations of colors, it used the technique of distinguish one car from the other with a number.

Tandy Color Computer

Remember, the objects are closer than they seem

This port appeared in 1985, and I think it’s the last one. The Color Computer of Radio Shack did not have the popularity of other computers of the 80s, but surely had its fans.

It’s funny, but this version, of probably the least known of all the computers mentioned in this entry, it’s the one I played the most. This is because a good childhood friend had this computer, and this particular auto racing game. So it was common to compite head-to-head, usually with disastrous results to yours trully.

This is a really good port, with decent colors, and it’s easy to spot the damage in the tires, previous to enter the pits.

I found interesting that this port uses the same perspective in the pits that the Commodore 64, even when it appeard after the other ports. My theory is that this port, unlike the others, was made by the same developer team, but it appeared later due to marketing o developing issues.

Epilogue

As already commented, I played this title a lot in a friend’s house. And writing this entry brought me back a lot of fond memories.

Even when, quoting my friend I was “a sitting duck” in this game, it did not matter, because we used to had a great time.

This videogame is considered more succesful than its predecessor, and in good measure, it’s because the head-to-head competition between two racers.

Even playing only one player, it remains the same feeling to win against a rival. Really recommended title for fans of auto racing videogames.

References

Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Apple II icons created by Ciro Alfredo Consentino for the software EmuLoader.

Other console icons taken from Retroarch.

EstadioRetro

Informatic guy and fan of retro videogaming. Mexican and spanish. I like to drink good coffee. My favorite sport is baseball, but I like to watch others.

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