A Shadowy Flight Down Memory Lane: A Look at the Kinght Rider Games

Last month, the television series Knight Rider turned thirty. Earlier this month, the show celebrated its thirtieth birthday with a three day convention in Las Vegas. Not a bad way to celebrate a show about a man and his talking car.

Created by Glen A. Larson, Knight Rider was the story of Michael Arthur Long, a Vietnam vet and undercover Las Vegas police detective. While working a case, Long (played by Larry Anderson) is shot in the face and nearly killed. He is rescued by billionaire Wilton Knight and given facial reconstruction and a new name. Renamed Michael Knight (played by David Hasselhoff), he worked for the Foundation of Law and Government (FLAG), a group created by Wilton Knight to fight crime and aid the helpless. Assisting Michael was FLAG’s leader Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare), technician Dr. Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson), and Wilton’s technical marvel, an autonomous supercar named the Knight Industries Two Thousand (voiced by William Daniels), better known as KITT.

Knight Rider was one of my favorite television shows as a child. Not only did it have a wicked intro (with music by Stu Phillips), it was the program that made me a fan of Hasselhoff and the Pontiac Trans-Am, the car that KITT was. KITT was a stud vehicle if there ever was one. Protected by a molecular bondage shell, KITT was capable of absorbing an incredible amount of damage, making him virtually indestructible. Furthermore, KITT had an impressive array of abilities, a few of which were Turbo Boost (which gave him a burst of speed or catapulted him into the air) Ski Mode (driving on two wheels), microwave jamming and oil slick.

But this isn’t a television blog nor was it meant to be. Over the years, there have been several games based on Knight Rider although none of them have been major hits. Below is a list of some of the Knight Rider video games released over the years, as well as a little history about each one.

Knight Rider (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989)

The original.

Developed by Pack-in-Video and published by Acclaim, this is the first Knight Rider game available for any home video game console. Released on the Nintendo Entertainemtn System (NES), Knight Rider is a first-person action driving game (complete with an impressive re-creation of KITT’s interior) that attempts to replicate the experience of driving KITT. A single-player experience, Knight Rider  features two game modes: mission mode and drive mode. In mission mode, Michael and KITT attempt to stop a terrorist group from using stolen weapons for villainous ends.

As Michael, the player drives KITT down a seemingly endless strip of highway battling enemy vehicles with weapons like lasers and missiles. The only move KITT has from his repertoire from the television series is Turbo Boost, which propels KITT into the air. A time limit for each mission keeps players alert; if a player runs out of time or takes too much damage, the player loses a life. Players will occasionally fight bosses such as KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot), KITT’s nemesis and predecessor. Drive mode is essentially a free roam mode, allowing the player to travel through the levels without enemies or weapons.

Knight Rider Special (NEC PC Engine, 1994)

Also developed (and now published) by Pack-in-Video, Knight Rider Special is a third-person single-player action racer. Players control KITT throughout a series of missions in which they tackle opponents using weapons such as lasers and machine guns. Much like its NES predecessor, Knight Rider Special has the player drive KITT along a seemingly infinite stretch of highway while battling a timer and enemy vehicles. Turbo Boost is available in this title as well, but it allows for much more lift in this game than the one on the NES.

Knight Rider Special takes advantage of its platform, allowing for better graphics and sound than the NES title. It even has a rendition of the television series’ opening theme and features voice work from the actor who voiced KITT in the Japanese dub of the show.

The Davilex Games: Knight Rider: The Game and Knight Rider: The Game 2 (PS2, PC 2003 and PS2, PC 2004)

Early last decade, Davilex Games first brought Knight Rider into the third dimension with a pair of titles for both the Playstation 2 and the PC. Both titles are third-person action racers in which the player controls KITT in a series of missions that range from tracking to exploration. These games feature more of KITT’s abilities from the television series such as Ski Mode and night vision, but also included standard weapons such as lasers, missiles, and machine guns. Each game even has its own version of the show’s classic intro, both of which can be seen here and here.

The Davilex games are the most technologically advanced of the Knight Rider games, allowing for full 3-D graphics and voice work for all major characters. Series villains Garthe Knight (Wilton Knight’s criminal son) and KARR make appearances as boss characters in both titles. Garth has his truck Goliath, a massive and heavily armed tractor-trailer that was featured in the television series.

Although Knight Rider: The Game was released in North America and Europe, Knight Rider 2 was only available in Europe.

So that does it for the Knight Rider games. Hopefully you enjoyed this shadowy flight down memory lane. Remember, one man (or woman) can make a difference!

Peace & Pixels

It’s Halftime!

I love video games. I love The Ohio State University. I had no idea that over last weekend, the two combined for one awesome display of halftime entertainment. If you haven’t seen the following video, watch it now. If you’ve already seen it, please watch it again.

This is fantastic; it’s the best band video I have ever seen. It’s evidence of how far video games have come in the past three decades, and how people respond to them. Fifteen years ago, we probably would not have seen a love letter to video games like this. Actually, fifteen years ago the students who performed in this video were at the most, only toddlers. I thought about this when the band did its segment on Pac-Man. The person filming the video recognized the band’s depiction of the yellow chomping legend, but most of the crowd was quiet, seemingly stymied by the character.

I’ve never seen the show Video Games Live but I think I’ll try to catch a show now after seeing this. I think I took for granted how much I love video game music, but this show made me appreciate it more. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels

Edit: I just came across this video of University of California’s marching band performing a similar halftime show to the one the OSU did but five years earlier. OSU’s performance is still better, but I still give California’s band respect for their doing their performance earlier.