San Francisco Rush series

San Francisco Rush series

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Big speed and big air were the big draws in Atari’s San Francisco Rush. Set (surprise) in San Francisco, this driving game took full advantage of that city’s beautiful scenery, tourist attractions and hilly landscapes, creating one of the most popular racers of its time.

Like Williams’ Cruis’n USA , San Francisco Rush didn’t care as much about perfect realism as it did good old-fashioned fun. Thus, while the game did offer force-feedback steering and detailed, authentic backgrounds, reality was never allowed to interfere with ridiculous speeds, dangerous shortcuts and enormous jumps.

The basics of the game were the same as many other racers—facing a time limit and several other cars, players tried to complete laps around a city course, making checkpoints for extra time. Six different tracks were available, taking players zipping past such familiar landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge, The Presidio, Nob Hill and the super-crooked Lombard Street (site of one of the game’s biggest jumps). But as with most modern racers, the quickest path wasn’t always the one on the map. Shortcuts abounded in San Francisco Rush, letting players dive into the sewer system, drive across building rooftops and leap from hidden ramps before joining back up with the main track.

San Francisco Rush offered eight different player cars, each suited to different skill levels, allowing even novices to get the feel for the wheel fairly quickly. The more advanced cars, controlled with a 4-speed manual transmission, gave expert players a more realistic experience (but again, never at the expense of fun).

To make the game even more challenging for seasoned players, each track could be taken backward, or as a mirror image. Multi-player action added even more variations to the game, letting up to eight human drivers join in the same race with linked cabinets.

By focusing on “extreme racing” over strict real-world physics, San Francisco Rush was able to find an eager group of players without taking anything away from more true-life racers like Daytona USA. The game was a smash hit, a favorite of average joe gamers and avid game sharks alike. To keep those appetites whetted, Atari released an upgrade in 1997. Titled San Francisco Rush the Rock: Alcatraz Edition, the new game added more cars, more tricks and more tracks, including one at the famous island prison.

In 1999, a full sequel was released: San Francisco Rush 2049. Set 50 years in the future, the game featured high-tech cars and new twists on familiar sights. The new tracks had their share of secrets and shortcuts, of course, including special gold coins that added a bit of bonus time and allowed players to purchase new paint jobs for their racers.

Another new feature was the game’s registration system. Using a 12-button keypad set up like a telephone, players could enter their phone numbers, along with a personal identification number (PIN), thereby joining “Team Rush.” Once a player’s data was entered, the game kept track of stats, including miles driven. As certain mileage plateaus were reached, new cars and tracks were unlocked.

With its new features and futuristic look, San Francisco Rush 2049 was another driving hit for Atari Games, once again proving that just because you can simulate real-world driving, doesn’t mean you have to.

Arcade Machine Release History

1996 - San Francisco Rush
1997 - San Francisco Rush the Rock: Alcatraz Edition
1999 - San Francisco Rush 2049

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