BADLANDS / Atari / Arcade
Badlands was an evolution of Atari's previous top-down racers Super Sprint and Championship Sprint ... most gamers would probably be more familiar with this gameplay style from R.C. Pro-Am, the older Micro Machines games, or Ivan Stewart's Super Off-Road though. Badlands sends us to a Mad Max-esque future where people race armored cars with machine guns on courses full of hazards. Like Atari's previous racers in this vein, each course takes place on a single screen, and usually has you twisting through each track in pretzelicious style to do each lap (guided by a helpful flashing blue arrow when it's unclear which way you are supposed to turn.)

In between levels, you get to pick an upgrade for your car - speed boosts, better tires for handling, an increased load of missiles, etc. As it turns out, missiles are the key to victory here. The machine gun barely does anything, not even stunning a foe for a full second. You don't have to worry all that much about foes shooting at you, but the fact that they drive a perfect course while you are subject to hitting terrain hazards and exploding puts you at a major disadvantage ... unless you get as many missiles as possible and just blow the shit out of them at every opportunity.

As such it renders the game a bit one-dimensional and it gets old fairly fast. Basically solid though, and has a pretty kickin' soundtrack for 1989.
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