Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-07-05


Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side, of course. And then his buddy had to go join him. And then their buddy had to go join them, and so on. Evidently, in some town where there is a ten-lane freeway, there lived a whole herd of chickens who made a living crossing said ten-lane freeway, and it is to document their exploits that Activision created the game Freeway for the Atari 2600.

The concept behind Freeway is a simple one. There is a ten-lane freeway that you must navigate chickens across. Each chicken starts below the freeway and must be taken to the top. Once a chicken reaches the top, another chicken will appear at the bottom and the process will begin again. I should note that chickens can only move in a vertical direction, up or down. They cannot move left or right. Freeway is meant to be a two-player game where the person who gets the most chickens across the freeway in a set period of time wins, but can be played with only one player in an attempt to get as many chickens across as possible within the time limit.

Of course, what freeway would be complete without cars? Every one of the ten lanes of the freeway has cars coming across it. Appropriately, the cars closer to the center (in the lanes furthest to the left) move faster than the ones in the lanes closer to the edges. The cars in each lane move at a different pace from the others on its side, with a symmetrical arrangement. The lanes closest to the edges have the slowest moving cars, and the lanes closest to the center have the fastest moving, and so forth. Should your chicken get hit by a car, he will be knocked back a couple lanes and then be able to continue on his journey.

Graphically, this game is fairly impressive. The freeway looks like a freeway, from the gray roads to the dashed lines between lanes. The cars also are well-animated using pixels which are quite small for an Atari 2600 game of Freeway's era. Even the chickens look quite a bit like real chickens. It is obvious that time was spent making this game as realistic as possible.

In terms of sound, the sound effects in this game are actually quite good. There's a sound effect when a chicken gets hit, although it's not the most appropriate sound effect that could have been used. There's also a sound effect when a chicken gets across the freeway and a point is added in your column. The car sound effects are the most impressive. There are different car sounds for the slow cars and the fast cars, and they all sound appropriate. Occasionally, you'll even hear a car horn. Overall, Activision did an excellent job on the sound in this game.

What then are my complaints about this game? First off, a game where you can move chickens across a road up or down won't last forever. It might last you a while, but it won't be as endlessly entertaining as the likes of Space Invaders or Centipede, for example. Still, it will be good entertainment in short bursts once in a while, especially if you can find a second person to play against.

Beyond that, my only complaint is something that isn't even this game's fault, namely, that a more entertaining version was passed over to release this. If you've played Activision Anthology for the GBA, you are aware of the game there called Bloody Human Freeway, the original version of this game. Evidently Activision thought that a game involving people where the people burst into puddles of blood when a car hit them was too graphic for release, so they released it in its present form instead. Personally, I find the original more entertaining. Still, that's a matter of opinion, and it doesn't detract from the entertainment value of this game at all.

What then is my conclusion? This game has excellent aesthetics for its time, and it has a gameplay that is entertaining in short bursts periodically. My recommendation is this: if you can find this game cheap, buy it. But I'd hesitate to recommend paying more than about $3 for it, both because it's very common and because you won't get your money's worth out of it at much more than that.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 7.3
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely