ATVs in Popular Culture: Video Games Edition

ATVs, with their unique blend of adventure and freedom, have always been a popular addition to video games. Let's explore some top video games where ATVs make their mark and off-roading shines in it's glory:

Super Off Road

Super Off Road, also known as "Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road," is a 1989 arcade video game developed by Leland Corporation. The game centers around off-road racing and features support for up to three players. Players control miniature monster trucks and compete on eight different tracks, aiming to finish in first place. The game is known for its power-up system, where players earn money by performing well in races and can use this money to buy better tires, more powerful engines, and other performance-enhancing upgrades. The game features a top-down perspective, and the circuits are filled with various obstacles such as water and jumps. Players can also collect bonus items during races, including cash and nitro boosts. The game was popular in arcades and was later ported to various home video game consoles and personal computers.

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Overpass is an off-road powersports driving simulator focused on UTVs and ATVs, where the goal is to overcome a variety of obstacle courses across diverse terrains. Instead of high-speed racing, the game emphasizes technical skill, low-speed precision, and strategy. Players navigate through challenges like rocks, slopes, and other obstructions, with the ability to manually switch between 2WD and 4WD, and activate a differential lock on UTVs for tougher terrains. While presenting a realistic visual depiction of off-road vehicles and environments, the game stands out for its commitment to technical challenge and the strategic approach it requires.

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ATV Offroad Fury Series

The ATV Offroad Fury series is a tetralogy of all-terrain quad racing games developed by Rainbow Studios and Climax Studios and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The series, which is exclusive to Sony platforms, is one of the two predecessor video game series to the MX vs. ATV crossover series. The first installment of the series was released in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. A sequel, ATV Offroad Fury 2, was released the following year, both developed by Rainbow Studios.

After the release of the first two games, Rainbow Studios departed from the series to work on MX Unleashed, the final installment of the MX trilogy, eventually creating the MX vs. ATV crossover series. Climax Studios, known for developing the ATV Quad Power Racing duology, was chosen to continue development of the ATV Offroad Fury series. They produced two more installments, ATV Offroad Fury 3 and ATV Offroad Fury 4, for the PlayStation 2. These games were also ported to the PlayStation Portable, released as ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails and ATV Offroad Fury Pro, respectively​.

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MX vs. ATV Series

The MX vs. ATV is an American off-road racing video game series developed by Rainbow Studios and published by THQ Nordic. The series is a crossover of THQ's MX trilogy and Sony's ATV Offroad Fury series, and it primarily features races with motocross bikes and all-terrain vehicles, though some games include other vehicles like dune buggies and sport trucks. The series began with MX vs. ATV Unleashed in 2005, which was published by THQ before its bankruptcy and liquidation in 2013.

Despite the initial publisher's shutdown, the series continued under Nordic Games, which acquired the franchise in 2013. Nordic Games brought the series to eighth-generation consoles starting with MX vs. ATV Supercross in 2014 and followed by MX vs. ATV: All Out in 2018. The latest installment, MX vs. ATV Legends, was released for ninth-generation consoles on June 28, 2022.

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MudRunner is a 2017 off-road simulation game developed by Saber Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive. This game, a spin-off/sequel to the 2014 Windows-exclusive "Spintires," has players control off-road vehicles as they traverse various terrains to accomplish objectives. The primary challenge is to transport logs to their destination without depleting resources like fuel or damaging the vehicle, all while navigating through muddy, unpaved roads in aging Soviet vehicles using only a map and compass. The game offers both single-player and multiplayer co-op modes, which share the same six main maps​.

MudRunner also includes a challenge mode that offers nine small maps, each focusing on a particular gameplay function to teach the players different aspects of the game. Each level comes with three bonus objectives that, when completed, unlock achievements but do not offer any in-game rewards. The game expanded with the "American Wilds" edition, introducing American vehicles and bundling them with the base game, also offering an ultimate edition for consoles​.

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Trials Rising

Trials Rising is a 2.5D racing game developed and published by Ubisoft. Released in February 2019 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One, it later came to Stadia in November 2019 and Amazon Luna in December 2020. This title marks the first mainline entry in the Trials series since 2014's Trials Fusion and is the first in the series to be released on a Nintendo console.

In Trials Rising, players control a rider on a physics-based motorcycle, navigating obstacles from the start of the level to the end. The game features various obstacle courses set in different parts of the world, including the Eiffel Tower and Mount Everest. Players can compete against each other in local and online multiplayer, view other players’ best personal performance, and receive notifications when their records are broken by others. The game also allows for customization of the rider's outfit and the motorcycle and enables players to create and share custom obstacle courses. A unique feature introduced in "Rising" is the “Tandem Bike” local multiplayer mode, where two riders control the same motorcycle, each responsible for a part of the balance and power of the vehicle.

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Pure is an off-road, quad-bike trick-racing video game that takes ATV racing to a new level with its blend of extreme sports, high-speed racing, and immersive gameplay. The game is all about creating the purest, most exciting off-road racing experience imaginable. It was developed by Black Rock Studio and published by Disney Interactive Studios, and it was released on September 16, 2008.

Players can design and build their own unique quad bikes from the ground up, then take them into the wild for some high-speed, air-catching racing. The game features four different race types: Race, Sprint, Freestyle, and Freeride. In all of these modes, players are required to perform tricks to fill their boost bar, which can give them an extra speed boost during the race in order to win. This unique combination of racing and tricks makes Pure stand out among ATV related video games.

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Grand Theft Auto 5

While not specifically an off-road game, persay, the use of ATVs in GTA 5 is commendable as they play a massive role throughout. The "Blazer" is a quad with tremendous speed and stunting ability which provides an extreme amount of fun, especially in the Mount Chiliad area. In GTA Online, there are a number of customized options including the popular "Hot Rod Blazer". Another variant, the "Blazer Lifeguard", is a customized Blazer used by the Los Santos Lifeguards in the game​.

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The incorporation of ATVs into video games has added a thrilling dimension to the gaming experience for fans of off-road. Whether it's racing on off-road tracks, navigating through muddy landscapes, or defying gravity on obstacle courses, these games deliver an immersive and dynamic ATV riding experience. As gaming technology continues to evolve, we look forward to seeing how ATVs will be further integrated into new gaming environments, bringing even more variety and excitement to the virtual world of off-road exploration.