Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: July 14, 2001
The arcade port is a special brand of game, and it always receives special attention from the gaming press. Unlike console-specific titles, we reviewers don’t have to work from scratch when tackling these releases, and since most of us have crippling gaming addictions, chances are that we were out there dropping quarters and tokens long before the developers shipped it to our living room. With each port, there are usually some key elements lost in the transition: Silent Scope couldn’t ship with a rifle for obvious reasons, and most families don’t have a TV screen that can match the size found in the Confidential Mission console, to cite two examples. The question is, of course, whether the port can offset these difficulties with added features, and we will tackle exactly this question in our examination of 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker.
For those not in the know, one of the key features of 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker in the arcades was the unique transport-sized driving wheel and a first-person view that pulled you right into the action. Unless you sit down to modify your rally wheel into unrecognizability, you won’t be able to recreate the authentic control scheme, but the first person view has remained intact, complete with dangling key chains and aviator’s glasses on the dash board.
As a trucker, your path is a clearly defined ribbon of asphalt that stretches from city to city. Your goal is simple enough, as your profession demands that you move your cargo quickly and safely along this path, though this doesn’t always mean that you’ll stay within the bounds of the law. In order to begin your career on the highways, you must choose a truck and trucker to control. Of the four, Texas Hawk, who drives the Asphalt Cowboy, is the most balanced in terms of his speed, torque and toughness. Quicker on the straightaway, but constantly struggling with hills, is the Highway Cat, driven by the beautiful Wild Rose. At the exact opposite end of the spectrum are the Long Haul and its driver Mad Bull, both of whom have excellent pulling power but aren’t exactly geared for speed. Rounding out the quartet is the Streamline with its driver Moonlight. Looking like a refugee from the height of the disco movement, Moonlight’s truck is both fast and able to climb steep hills, but to achieve this result he must have removed a few “unnecessary” bolts to reduce weight. The end result is the weakest truck on the road, and thus the one that receives the most penalties from collisions.
Collisions can indeed be a nasty business, as they hurt you in multiple ways: First off, they shave valuable seconds off of your time and slow you down, which simply exacerbates the penalty. Secondly, the damage incurred by your cargo reduces its value, limiting your reward score at the end of the trip. The first time you hit the road, you have no control over the value of your cargo: you’re given a tanker trailer and told to hit the road. After this mission, however, you will be given a choice between two trailers, one of which is lighter but worth less money, while the other’s increased mass comes with increased rewards. Obviously, these two choices are geared towards players of different skill levels, as it takes careful and judicious driving to navigate the heavier trailers through the winding highways.