Remembering classic games: Interstate 76 (1997) | Top Gear
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Remembering classic games: Interstate 76 (1997)

Released in 1997 but set in 1976, Interstate 76 was a classic within a classic...

Published: 29 Apr 2022
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What you're looking at here is a retro game that was already retro back when it was first released in 1997. That's because Interstate 76 was set in 1976 and featured polygonal characters that were purposefully designed to look old school, even at the time. It's certainly the most convincing excuse for terrible graphics we've heard yet.

Fortunately, the cars themselves looked slightly better. Interstate 76 was a vehicular combat game that carved off huge chunks of the American Southwest and turned them into vast arenas for balletic automotive shootouts between heavily armed muscle cars. We've discovered the answer to traffic congestion, folks, and it's a roof-mounted, auto-targeting napalm turret.

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While there were no officially licensed vehicles, presumably because manufacturers frown on seeing their cars riddled with .50 cal bullets, there were plenty of familiar silhouettes. The Courcheval Manta was a thinly disguised Corvette Stingray, for example, and your ride throughout the single player game was essentially a bright orange Plymouth AAR Cuda.

With its miles of desert asphalt and roadside Americana, Interstate 76 nailed the atmosphere of classic 70s car movies like Vanishing Point. What's more, the developer even assembled a funk supergroup specifically for the game, including members of actual bands Primus and Santana, to create a soundtrack full of slap bass and wicky-wicky guitars to accompany all the machine gun fire. It even worked if you stuck the game disc in a CD player.

Most of all, we loved Interstate 76 for its quirkiness. How many games have a button on the keyboard specifically assigned to requesting some poetry from your partner over the CB radio? How many games confect an entire Starsky and Hutch style TV intro sequence, complete with pretend actor credits? And, most importantly, how many games can name the playable protagonist Groove Champion with a straight face?

 

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