If I were to say to you that I’m going to play a racing game in a sit-down cabinet which has fast graphics, branching routes and different stages along the way then I would expect you to instantly think “Outrun”. Now, if I say this monster has 3 screens, force feedback and predates Outrun by 3 years? Welcome to Tatsumi’s TX-1 Arcade racer from 1983.
Upon first view, you may well think that this is Pole Position and that’s not too far from the truth. Tatsumi licensed the game to Namco who then sub-licensed it to Atari. The whole look and feel of the game is very much like a modern-day HD remake, the graphics look oh so familiar but are much sharper than the old Pole Position game. Similarly the sound effects are still reminiscent of the old game but much crisper.
The really interesting thing that the TX-1 game brings to the table for a Retrogamer is what it had that no other game did. It was the first game to have any sort of force feedback on the steering wheel – we take it for granted today but this was the originator. From a gameplay perspective TX-1 introduced the branching routes that everyone now associates with Outrun, a very novel idea back in 1983. The premise of the game is also a little more refined, you can’t just press accelerate and hope; you have to brake and change gear as TX-1 tries to be more of a simulation that existing arcade racers.
Sadly, this is a super-rare system to find let alone one that is complete and working. There are a few located in the US but as far as the author can see there are none located in the UK. If you know better please do let us know. Thankfully though, the TX-1 game is based on Atari’s System 16 hardware (dual Intel 8086 with a Z80 based sound system) so it is possible to play the game via MAME. It’s well worth giving this a quick go, if for no other reason than to see a bit of the DNA that is deep inside modern-day arcade racers.