This month’s Retro Gamer had a piece on the old arcade game RoadBlasters, and its many home ports, and since it always was a bit of an old favourite of mine, I was inspired to give it another go.

But first, I was moved to revisit another, similar, title, also mentioned in passing in the RG piece. Overlander was a home computer rival to RoadBlasters, based around similar themes of fuel scarcity and, well, the combination of driving, avoiding death, and blasting other road users to pieces. Retro Gamer reckons that, “A lot of computer owners prefer this to the home ports of RoadBlasters, and it’s easy to see why…consider it to be the thinking man’s RoadBlasters.”


Hmm…well, that’s not how I remember it at the time, although the Atari ST version of RoadBlasters wasn’t really the best. Overlander was one of a number of games that came bundled with the family ST. I loved that pack of free games, because many of the included titles were the type that we never would have owned otherwise, with my parents favouring more critically-acclaimed and worthy efforts, such as graphic adventures, that the whole family could enjoy.

The main things I remember about Overlander are that a) it was pretty unforgiving and b) at various points you actually needed to conserve fuel by driving a bit more slowly (at least until you could buy the converter that made fuel more efficient). Revisiting it now, I don’t seem any better equipped to deal with the difficulty, to the extent that I haven’t even been able to verify whether my memories of the fuel conservation necessity are correct or not. It’s definitely not a patch on RoadBlasters though.


I first played RoadBlasters on the Amstrad CPC and, by the standard of most 8-bit coin-op conversions, it was pretty good. My favourite version, though, was the Atari Lynx port, which was super-smooth, lightning fast, and generally pretty awesome (a fact acknowledged by the RG article). I think it was possibly my favourite Lynx game, in fact, but although I still have my old Lynx 2 somewhere, I wasn’t about to go digging around for it and dusting it off. By all accounts the MegaDrive version is the best (exluding the arcade original of course) and thanks to the power of emulation (and, er, those places on the internet where you can find the things you might need to make emulation useful and fun) I’ve been wasting a few evenings chasing green and red fuel blobs and blasting those pesky motorbikes off the road. And crashing. And running out of fuel.

A long time ago I thought about hunting down a copy of Midway’s Arcade Treasures so this seems like the perfect excuse. And it has Spy Hunter too!