Death Race was released by Exidy in 1976. It was inspired by the Roger Corman movie Death Race 2000 that came out a year earlier.
The game was a one or two player game and featured an on-screen car (two cars if two players played) with a steering wheel and an acceleration pedal. You play as The Grim Reaper riding in a hot rod and your goal is to run down “gremlins.” As the player runs over them, they scream and a tombstone would pop up in their place.
The player was rated based on the number of points scored:
1–3 points: skeleton chaser
4–10 points: bone cracker
11–20 points: gremlin hunter
21 points or over: expert driver
This game led to controversy about violence in video games. Despite the blocky graphics and lack of any real gore, people were up in arms about the game. I guess the title and artwork did not help.
Due protests about the game violence, Death Race only sold approximately 500 units total. 35 years later, who knows how few are still around. But not that many.
This may not be the greatest playing arcade game of all time, but it sure makes for a unique conversation and historical piece in your game room. The cabinet art is very cool and the marquee is well done (and huge for a video game).
For its day…the game play is actually very good.
These do not come up for sale very often as you can imagine…but if you act now there actually is one for sale on eBay!
Now get your gloves on and get ready to run over some