Message Board
  Atari Systems
  Game Scores
  Video Reviews
  Bonus Material
  Join TAT!


Freeway - The Atari Times


Not bad, but Frogger is much better
by Ethan C. Nobles

March 6, 2006
Every Atari 2600 fan knows (or ought to know!) that Activision mastered the craft of creating games that were influenced by arcade hits, but different enough to avoid lawsuits. After all, Chopper Command is quite similar to Defender on many levels, and what is Robot Tank but a "lite" version of Battlezone? Freeway was obviously influenced by Frogger, but not nearly as successful as other arcade-like games produced by Activision.

Now, 1981's Freeway isn't bad at all, but it pales in comparison to the 2600 version of Frogger released by Parker Brothers. The 2600 version of Frogger, after all, preserved many of the elements folks went all crazy for in the arcades. The fact Frogger is so good rather rendered Freeway unnecessary in the minds of many, I'm afraid. Let me explain. Remember Atari's Defender for the 2600? That game is hated by many, and Activison's Chopper Command was viewed as a superior alternative for fans of the Defender arcade game. That's not the case with Freeway -- a darn good port of Frogger already exists, so why bother with this game?

Ah, but there is a redeeming quality to Freeway. The game is an absolute hoot with two players. Believe me, two players competing to see which one can get his chicken to the other side of the road 20 times in the alloted time creates some heated competition, indeed.

In Freeway, the player is charged with getting his chicken from one side of the highway to the other while avoiding traffic. Why did the chicken cross the road? Who cares? That chicken is determined, and it's your job to get him there without getting hit by a car. There are eight whole variations of the game, each one with various traffic conditions. With all that variety, you're sure to find one which will challenge you. If the game seems to easy, set the difficulty switch to "A." See, there's not much violence per se in the game as the chicken doesn't die when hit by a car. On the "B" difficulty setting , he'll be pushed back a little bit and sent back to the starting point if the "A" difficulty is selected.

Indeed, this is a very simple game which requires a successful player to have good eye-hand coordination and timing. What makes the game difficult is the fact the chicken can only move in a straight, vertical line. There's no horizontal movement at all, so forget about trying to run from cars and such nonsense. The poor chicken can only advance or retreat.

The graphics in this thing are quite good and the animation is top-notch, too. That's no surprise in an Activision game, of course. The vehicles are multi-colored and drawn quite well. The chicken is solid yellow, but "flutters" amusingly when hit by a car. Graphically, this thing is simple but very nice to see. The sounds aren't bad, either. Cars honk their horns very convincingly, which helps create the atmosphere of crowded freeways quite well.

The control is fine, too. Moving the chicken forward and back isn't a problem at all. There's nothing worse than sloppy controls in a game, and such a nasty condition is avoided in Freeway.

All in all, this isn't a bad game, but it does seem very unnecessary when the superior Frogger is available. Frogger is one of the better games available for the 2600, and it isn't exactly hard to find, either. Still, this is a pretty good two-player game featuring good graphics and a good amount of challenge. If you can find it for a decent price, grab it. Otherwise, just stick with Frogger and you probably won't feel too bad about not having a copy of Freeway.


(c) Activision

"We goin' riding on the 'Freeway'!"
The computer opponent isn't much of a challenge.
Here's a variation that just has trucks (filled with cows, no doubt) gunning for your chicken.
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 80%
Gameplay Score: 75%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 75%

Reader Comments for Freeway

Freeway vs. Frogger origi by Darryl B. on 2006-09-22 23:19:37
Actually, unless he changed his tune in the last several years, Freeway programmer David Crane has always said that Freeway was designed before Frogger came out, it was supposedly just a coincidence that the two came out not long after each other, with similar gameplay. So it supposedly wasn't influenced by Frogger.
Not worthy of Activision by Randy Johnson on 2014-07-22 21:24:58
This game is similar to Frogger but I don't like it. You make a chicken move across a freeway. But you can't move the chicken left or right. Only up and down. That sucks.
Activision made some awesome games but this isn't one of them. They made Pitfall, Pitfall II, Space Shuttle, River Raid and other good games. This crappy game wasn't worthy of Activision.
Add Comment
What is the greatest video game company of all time? (Hint: Atari.)