Checkered Flag

Imitation, they say, is the best form of flattery. Looking at Checkered Flag, it's easy to see that Atari were followers of this mantra as it is clearly an attempt to mimic Sega's Virtua Racer. A racing game featuring F1-style vehicles, fictional race tracks set in exotic locations, and more flat shaded polygons than you can shake a stick (or maybe a broom handle) at. The similarities between Checkered Flag and Virtua Racing are clear for all to see...although one major aspect of Sega's offering seems to have been omitted: smooth gameplay. Yes, Checkered Flag is another Jaguar racing game that looks pretty decent in screenshots, but is a chore to play because of the temperamental frame rate. Add to that the bizarre over-steering handling of the vehicles and you have a game that isn't a lot of fun to play. With patience, it is possible to get competent and not just spend every race bouncing from wall to wall...but really, it takes a lot of patience and a forgiving temperament!

Checkered Flag had the potential to be a great game - there are plenty of tracks, and they're quite varied in terms of layout and location (and have some pretty amusing names - The Hole, anyone?!), and there are the usual free practice, time attack, single race and championship gameplay modes. Other interesting features include different weather options (sun, rain, fog) and the ability to drive through - yes literally through - giant penguins (see below). There's not really much more to say about Checkered Flag other than it feels like a game that's only about 70% complete. The menu music is great, there are multiple camera views, and there's a hint of a great game hiding below the surface, but I can't help but feel that with a little more development time Checkered Flag could have been a true rival to Virtua Racing. It's worth mentioning that this was actually developed by Rebellion, of Alien Vs Predator fame, so it's hard to see how it turned out so poorly.

As it is, collectors might want to get hold of a copy just to say they have it...but as a game to sit and actually play? Hmmm. It's a tough one to recommend. Unless you have the temperament of the Dalai Lama and/or a penchant for massive angular penguins. Maybe.

Aside from the penguins, the question also remains: who, or what, could have built a snowman that big?! I wouldn't hang around to find out...!

Click here for some gameplay footage.


  1. If you have a computer capable of running Virtual Jaguar, give the game a go there, it's quite revealing. Beneath the lag and latency of the released game there's actually fairly fun experience tucked away and it's only the super-charged Virtual Jaguar that uncovers it. Take a look at this YouTube video but it's best to give it a go yourself:

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting :) I do have Virtual Jag on my Macbook and I've tried various roms with varying degrees of success. I'll definitely give Chequered Flag a go though to see how it compares. Thanks for the pointer.