Atari A to Z (Pete Davison) - 16/07/2022
Adam Billyard's Elektra Glide is a visually stunning first-person racing game for Atari 8-bit that is immensely irritating to play. Let's Play (and get annoyed)! https://youtu.be/7pxWkhO536Q
Astounding driving game. For those who doubt every aspect and limitation of the Atari xl 64 - 130k need to witness this game. The coding committed to the Atari format back in the 80's depicted here, is truly remarkable. The smooth frame rate with detailed graphics (console controls in particular), is a wonder to behold. The coding here needs to replicated and published many times from now on. Amazing!
Excellent, very accurate comments. I remember this game well for being technically brilliant (speed, graphics, music) but being complete garbage gameplay-wise. Ironic at best that it's tagline was "playing the game is EVERYTHING!".
Scott Stilphen - 22/08/2018
Don't even bother playing this unless you have a PAL system or have your emulator set to that format, as it's impossible to complete a lap on NTSC (unless you cheat and use save states, and even with that, you'll reach the tunnel with 1 second to spare).
An uber smashing game in it's day! Once you got the magic touch for it, like riding a bike for the first time, you could have some high scores and feel good about it. Even just for the kuhl sound effects, it was worth it!
Electraglide is an excellent game once you master it - nice to have the adjustable steering modes. Challenging but completable (well on some circuits!), after the third tunnel the game ends. Beautiful sound and graphics too. Nice forks, tunnels and objects to avoid (use the brakes here!). The light steering paradigm is best for avoiding the objects but the medium setting is perhaps best for all round play, especially if you want to stay away from the tunnel walls!!! 9/10
Here's a great example of a game not being great just because it's on the cutting edge graphically and sound-wise. This game looked and sounded wonderful...and was TOTAL crap.
Very nice game. I was a real pleasure to glide on the road in a so smoothy manner.
I ended the game (I remember the vehicule slows down while a sound raise up in frequency).
a poor game with one of the best tunes ever on an Atari 8bit with great colorful grafix. a pity there was no game to go with it and somewhat of a mystery to me as to how it gets in the top 100
Pretty cool 3-D Driving game with good music.Controls take some getting used to,but worth it in the end. Great!
Michael Strorm - 30/05/2007
Technically brilliant; this was the first game I ever played on an Atari computer, and the "killer app" that convinced me I wanted one. (Previously I'd been after a Spectrum 128K; I'm still not convinced that being shown this wasn't a propaganda campaign by my Dad- who was forking out some of the money- and/or his friend, whose Atari it was!)
Some of the most incredible graphics seen on the 8-bit (the parallax scrolling when you went round a sharp bend was awesome). The driving style required was tricky to get to grips with, but once mastered, the game was possible to complete. A personal favourite, for sure.
Elektra Glide truly featured a breathtaking 'somehow 3D' engine at a real fast speed combined with a kick-ass BGM 10/10
|Other version with the same title: |
Excerpts from an interview with Adam Billyard by James Hague:
JH: 'Was 3-D graphics programming rough in those days?'
AB: 'Quite bizarrely nothing much has changed, since CPUs, while much faster, still benefit from many, but not all, of the tricks we used to use. On the Atari 800, on which I wrote "ElektraGlide," you didn't have the processor grunt to do things properly so it was all about writing what you might describe as "soft 3-D systems"--3-D systems that behaved like 3-D but were in fact a big fudge. I was traveling around Turkey at the time and was quite obsessed with what the view of the road looked like through the front windshield of the buses I traveled on!'
JH: 'What tricks did you use to get things fast enough on an Atari 800?'
AB: 'Oh gosh it's a long time ago! Lots of self-modifying code for loops; you'd always overwrite loop set-up variables with the correct values so you could keep the loop in-line--function calls were expensive. Heavy use of lookup tables for pretty much anything involving math, since the 6502 only had 8-bit add and subtract instructions. The general method was often to write BASIC programs to generate the lookup tables which you dumped into the SYNASM assembler or Atari's Macro Assembler.'
JH: 'Specifically, what tricks did you use in "ElektraGlide"?'
AB: 'There was a whole bunch of neat stuff in there! Many games on the Atari 800 ran at 160x96 resolution with two bits per pixel. Since processor performance was so low you needed to minimize how much pixel painting you did. Consequently, lots of the games used redefined character sets, allowing the program to paint just 40x12 characters to cover a full screen in the worst case. Most of the time you didn't need to even do that because the hardware display lists allowed you to scroll the display over large character-mapped areas by flipping a few registers.
"ElektraGlide," unusually, used a bitmapped display in 160x96 mode. One of the technical aims of writing the game was to have real large objects "moving" on the display, unlike the endless 2-D scrolling games that were around. I say "moving" since no way could the processor actually repaint large objects fast enough. It was all a lot of smoke-and-display-lists, so to speak.
I used display list interrupts every other scan-line so I could have fine grain control. The road you were on twisted and turned by horizontally scrolling each scan-line in the display list to give the effect of you coming up on curves. Display list interrupts allowed the rolling colors down the edges of the road. When a tunnel, which eventually filled the screen, came up, I just set up interrupts to change the color registers further and further up the display and also restore the colors further and further down the display with the effect that you got this big looming wall of a tunnel approaching. The tunnel entrance was superimposed afterward using a spare player! More frightening was the case where the road curved inside a tunnel. I needed to blank out the part of the road occluded by the supposed tunnel wall. This was done by placing a large player at the apex of the curve and switching the player priorities at that apex scan line. I did a similar gag for exiting the tunnel, but ran out of players. On overscanned TVs, the darkness of the tunnel runs out at either edge revealing the coming landscape.
I needed to erase the contents of players often, but there wasn't enough time to erase that huge 128 bytes of player memory. I had a system where I could spread that memory fill over several frames just doing thirty-two bytes a time. Sad, isn't it!
The moving objects coming along the road were all drawn at full screen resolution and then resampled, by a program I wrote, down to varying sizes, giving a nice smooth sequence of images that could be shown one after another. In retrospect, it was my first attempt at texture mip-mapping. There was no possibility of drawing these fast enough, so the bitmap images were encoded as collections of players, some horizontally stretched, some not. It worked pretty well.'
JH: 'How did your Atari 800 games do commercially?'
AB: 'Really well in Europe. They were all number one in the charts for a time. Things like "ElektraGlide" did around forty to fifty thousand units.'