In 1980, space-themed games were as easy to find as a Christopher Cross 8-track, but maze games were growing in popularity, helped along by Pac-Man. Stern expanded on the space race with Berzerk, but Midway broke new ground and took space out of the race entirely with Rally-X.
Gameplay: Accompanied by a jaunty little tune, you drive your blue car around a maze to pick up all the flags before your fuel runs out, or one of the evil red cars crashes into you. Your radar will help you see where the opposing red cars and remaining flags are, but it won't show you where the inconveniently scattered boulders are located, so you'll have to use your VFR as well as your IFR skills. (Hello there, all you flight-simulator nerds! How you doin'?)
However, you don't have to rely solely on your reflexes and radar-reading abilities to evade the dastardly red cars. Your car is outfitted with a pre-Spy Hunter smokescreen that causes your enemies to spin impotently when they hit it.
Could be mistaken for: New Rally-X, Hot Race, Dodgem
Kids today might not like it because: Accustomed to the, uh, reality of driving games like Midnight Club 2, they'll have a hard time suspending their disbelief when their rally car fails to survive a catastrophic collision with another vehicle.
Kids today might like it because: At the beginning of each level, they can pull down on the joystick and drive right through the red cars like they aren't even there! Ha! Take that, realism!
Enduring contribution to gaming history: Someone at Midway decided that Rally-X was too tough, and they released a slightly easier version in 1981. Namco Classics Collection 2, released for modern consoles in 1996, includes a remixed version of Rally-X that's actually quite fun.
Wil Wheaton lives in the land of racecar ya-yas.