Kids these days don’t know how good they’ve got it. Why, back in the olden days, our programming was so rudimentary it was literally called BASIC. We didn’t have any of these fancy MMORPGs. No sir. When we wanted to play a video game we played things like Paper Boy, where you went around on a bicycle delivering papers. That’s right, back in those days our idea of recreation was job simulation.
Paper Boy isn’t the only example. There was Intellivision’s 1983 title Truckin’. The game was the creation of Richard Levine, who said that he was inspired to create it after years of travelling the I-5.
There were two different gameplay modes and a two-player split screen option. The first mode was the ‘Interstate Race.’ In this mode, players selected eight cities as checkpoints. You then had to visit each city. You began with $1500 in this mode. When fuel ran low, you had to fill the tank, which cost $120. Drive too long without stopping to rest and your top speed would decrease. Initially, it would drop by 20%, but could decrease as much as 80%. It cost $30 to stop and rest by the side of the road, but your energy level increased slowly, forcing you to decide just how long you wanted to rest.
The second mode, ‘Cargo Hauling,’ added an extra element to the game play. As the name implies, you could pick up different forms of cargo and carry it to various destinations. Cargo included things like cattle, corn, and gravel. Pay depended on the type of cargo you carried.
As a truck drivin’ man (or woman presumably) there were multiple obstacles to face. Not only did you have to battle fatigue, but speeding could earn you a ticket and cost you some of your money. There were also other truckers on the road. Truckers who were not particularly safety conscious. Truckers who could crash into you. Then of course there were the phantom trucks. What’s that you say? You didn’t realize there was a supernatural element to this game? Well, of course! Why wouldn’t there be? Occasionally, trucks on the road with you would simply blink out of existence, as though you had suddenly been transported into some crappy mash-up of Smokey and the Bandit and Left Behind. However, according to the manual, the explanation for the disappearance was much more mundane than the idea that they were raptured out of existence. These particular trucks were apparently hallucinations due to fatigue and long hours spent out on the road.
As a final note, the game came with a large road map of North America. As a person with a particular fondness for maps of all sorts, this was the icing on the cake, the silhouette on the mudflap, that little something extra that served as the perfect finishing touch.
Until next time, I remain,
Just Another Geek in the Geek Kingdom