The Ill Communication

18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker

Developer: Sega AM2
Publisher: Sega
N.A. Release: May 22, 2001

Box Quote: "500 horses under the hood."

18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker is another one of Sega’s games ported from the Naomi arcade system to the Dreamcast. With it, you get all of the arcade gameplay with some new features for the home port.

When you begin a game, you start by selecting from four different drivers where each will have their own unique vehicles that match their personalities. The rigs differ in three categories: speed, torque, and toughness. Your mission is to deliver your cargo from one city to another. The goal is to not crash into other vehicles or objects as it will do damage to the precious goods within your trailer and you’ll lose points when delivered. Damage it too much, and it’s game over.

Adding pressure is your competitor, Lizard Tail, a trucking company that is on a mission to make sure you don’t succeed. This jerk will follow you across the highways of America, stalking you on every interstate by pulling moves like ramming into your rig, cutting in front of you and dumping crates onto the road for you to hit, and striking other cars and having them swerve into your lane.

In Sega arcade fashion, there is a short time limit that you’ll need to extend with every checkpoint you pass. Helping you are certain vans you can hit that will add a few extra seconds to your time. You can get a boost of speed by slip streaming behind another big rig, which is caused by the decrease in wind resistance on your semi.

You might get a quick scare when you discover your route will be from New York to Florida or from Dallas to Las Vegas. Contrary to truck simulator games where this may take hours to accomplish, each stage in 18 Wheeler is very short; creating a sort of weird abridged version of the journey. If you cross the finish before your competitor, you’ll be treated to a bonus stage where you can upgrade your rig. Following a more simulated method, the bonus stages have you driving down narrow roads with tight, 90 degree turns. Hitting any objects will reduce your points and not making it to the finish within the allotted time will not allow you the upgrade.

In addition to the arcade mode is a mode called Parking. It’s basically the simulated gameplay of the bonus stages. Strategy will be needed as you attempt to park your rig and accompanied trailer in tight spaces. Time is very short and having your rig hit anything will subtract precious seconds from the clock. The game’s over when the clock reaches zero.

18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker is very short and will take only a few hours to complete everything. There are some unlockables to keep you interested, but nothing is worth mentioning. 18 Wheeler is a game that is better played in the arcades. They try to simulate the experience of driving a big rig by including a humongous steering wheel and a shifter. Thankfully the shifter only includes two gears like OutRun and doesn’t simulate it by having 18. Using the big steering wheel is much more fun and adds to the experience like in the case of needing to crank the wheel a lot just to make a turn. It also makes the bonus stages more of a challenge to succeed at.

But don’t get me wrong as I had fun playing 18 Wheeler, but with such a short experience, it’s like enjoying lighting a firecracker. It’s incredibly fun, but its time of enjoyment is a very short one. Probably feeling sorry for the player, this may be the reason why they made a sequel to the game titled The King of Route 66.

Posted on: February 10, 2016