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Quick Thoughts on Sega's ATV Slam

Although it may sound painfully obvious, I’ve recently found that writing quicker, less in-depth articles is considerably more manageable than intensely detailed, long-form pieces. That’s why, given busy as I’ve been over the past few months, I’ve decided to start leaning more heavily on “bite-sized” articles. This doesn’t mean 3,000-word Wilcox Arcade articles are gone—not by any means—but I will be giving myself a breather, so to speak. (Top-notch reviews are still on the way!)

With the short-form article my new go-to, I’d like to address something I totally neglected earlier this year: ATV Slam. Developed by Sega Amusements, ATV Slam is a new all-terrain vehicle racing video game boasting high speeds, stunt action, and plenty of fun. Since the title’s listing on Sega’s website focuses much more on cabinet features than, you know, actual gameplay, it’s a bit hard to summarize the actual interactive experience. But I mean, it is an ATV racing game. Simple.

As far as content goes, ATV Slam features 10 “exotic environments” (tracks), five characters, five vehicles, three game modes, and an upgrade system. (I’m not sure what these three game modes are, because they’re not mentioned on any Sega marketing literature that I’ve seen.) These totals are okay for a 2019 arcade racer but not amazing by any means. While I do appreciate multiple game modes, I see myself getting tired of only 10 tracks somewhat quickly. And as inconsequential as it may seem, I wouldn’t have minded more characters and ATVs, just for added flavor. (Five vehicles is super limiting when compared to modern home console racers.)

The upgrade system, though pretty simplistic, is of some interest. There are five paths—Speed, Acceleration, Boost, and Trick—and all can be maxed out to improve a particular vehicle’s base stats. As somebody who really digs depth, I like customization, even if it is basic. From what I can tell, though, player profiles are saved with a machine-dependent PIN system. Which, in 2019, that’s not...ideal. (Still waiting for Japanese devs to bring their robust online infrastructures to Western regions. Guess that’ll never happen.)

Overall, it’s just some good, old-fashioned four-wheeler ridin’. I’d imagine the experienced is enhanced by all the nifty cabinet goods, though. Though I’ve come to stop caring about flashy cabinets—as, quite honestly, they’re usually just loaded with pointless gimmicks—I can give credit where it’s due. ATV Slam features a 47-inch HD monitor, wind effects, and a fancy motion base platform. Believe it or not, I actually love motion simulation. I grew to appreciate the technology after playing After Burner Climax. Plus, Sega videos are known for motion. R360, anyone?

Something I find quite silly is the promise of “console-quality graphics” through Unreal Engine 4. Don’t get me wrong: ATV Slam looks real pretty, and Unreal Engine is more than competent. However, you know the coin-op industry has gone way in the wrong direction when consoles have become the benchmark for technology. It shows how much arcade game developers have sacrificed actually decent hardware for over-the-top cabs. (But hey, I digress.)

I am the slightest bit concerned about one thing, and that’s personality. Compared to the Sega of old, Sega Amusements hasn’t exactly made the most...interesting games. On a mechanical level, their releases are usually more than enjoyable, but I don’t perceive a lot of heart, ya know? When I see something like ATV Slam, I don’t get that same giddy feeling I get with something like, say, Crazy Taxi. Since I haven’t yet played ATV Slam, I obviously can’t make any conclusive judgments. However, I do sincerely hope the title is packed with identity—and attitude.

Other than that, I guess ATV Slam looks pretty good. I’m not really excited for any upcoming racing games, except for maybe Race Craft, because it seems as if they’re all taking, like, five steps backwards. Whether it’s less content, over-reliance on gimmicks, the lack of online saves, or all of the above, nothing’s really catching my eye these days. I guess ATV Slam isn’t that particularly offensive, though. I’m sure it’ll be fun enough. Probably.

As two highly anticipated coin-op racers, I do see ATV Slam and Super Bikes 3 coming in direct competition with each other in 2019, the same way House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn and Halo: Fireteam Raven competed for “best rail shooter” in 2018. Who do y’all think will come out on top? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments.

I guess I’m out. See y’all around.


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