Championship Sprint Review

Terrible controls murder what little appeal exists in this archaic arcade driving game.

Championship Sprint was one of those classic arcade driving games that was really only a classic because of the arcade cabinet itself. The game was a super simple top-down driving game (which actually paved the way for better top-down drivers, such as Ironman Ivan Stewart's Super Off Road), but the cabinet included a steering wheel for each player that had to be spun like crazy to get the squirrelly cars around the game's tight turns. Without that wheel, this game wouldn't have been terribly appealing, which is a fact evidenced in crystal-clear fashion by the recent release of the game on the PlayStation Network. Instead of the crazy wheel, you get analog stick support that's too touchy and imprecise to be playable in any way. If you add in an online mode that lags and single-player action that gets old in about 15 minutes flat, you get an all-around awful deal.

If Midway was really going to do this, why not bust out Super Sprint instead? At least that one supported three players...
If Midway was really going to do this, why not bust out Super Sprint instead? At least that one supported three players...

Championship Sprint offers very little of anything. There are four cars in any given race, though the game only supports two players, so even in multiplayer, you're stuck with a couple of CPU racers. Offline, you're just racing, racing, racing--trying to get the highest score you can before it's game over. There are eight tracks of varying degrees of difficulty, though in this version, every track is a harrowing experience because of the awful controls. To try and compensate for the fact that in the arcades you had to spin the wheel like the Titanic trying to steer away from an iceberg, the developers made the analog stick movements super touchy. But they're so touchy that you barely have to move the stick at all to get the car to turn. Unfortunately, they went too far with it. There is zero precision in the car movement, which means it is way too tough to steer around corners properly without banging into the walls like some kind of alcoholic speed racer. It's just not the way the game is meant to be played.

If you play online, things get even worse. Lag permeates nearly every match (provided you can even find anyone playing online), and the lag turns the overly sensitive controls into a practical joke. Now, not only is the handling too loose, the reaction of the stick movements within the game lags almost a full second behind. We did run into a match or two where lag was minimal, but even there, it was enough to throw us off.

Suffice it to say, this is a terrible way to spend $4.99 on the PSN. The controls are broken, there's almost nothing to the game in the way of features, the online is awful, and the graphics and audio are nearly prehistoric. Did we mention that the only reason anyone cared about this game in the first place was because of the crazy steering wheel that's absent here? This is one classic you don't want to drive off the show floor.

The Good
Well, the arcade game was good in its day...
The Bad
...though that was only because of the driving wheel on the cabinet, but that isn't here
analog stick controls are abysmal
online play generally lags
crusty graphics and audio
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Championship Sprint More Info

  • First Released September 1986
    • Amstrad CPC
    • Arcade Games
    • + 3 more
    • Commodore 64
    • PlayStation 3
    • Sinclair ZX81/Spectrum
    Average Rating108 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Electric Dreams, Atari Games (Midway)
    Published by:
    Electric Dreams, Atari Games (Midway), Sony Online Entertainment
    Arcade, Driving/Racing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors