The ATV Offroad Fury franchise of games is a peculiar one to have a deep rooted relationship with. My first exposure to the racing game was a Saturday spring morning in April of 2002.

After saving $50 from completing chores around the house I tagged along with my mom on a trip to the super market with the excited intentions of purchasing a PSOne console that had recently experienced a price drop. My fascination with the slickly designed white console was inflamed during Christmas day in the year 2000 when I watched my cousin play one with an attachable screen. By 2002 that same cousin had already obtained a PlayStation 2 which even in my optimistic 11 year old brain I accepted the sad fact I wouldn’t obtain one of those for many years.

As I eagerly walked towards the back of the super market to the video game isle on a Friday afternoon, I knew I only had enough money to buy the PSOne console. I had $53 in my pocket to account for the sales tax which was just enough to buy the discounted PSOne without a game or memory card. My plan was to buy the console without my mothers knowledge so she wouldn’t persuade me into spending my money on something more practical. My adolescent logic led me to believing that owning the console would motivate me in saving more money to buy games and a memory card in the future.

My mom was aware of my secret plan and approached me as I stared longingly at the many video games on display behind the locked glass doors. She asked one of the store employees if the PlayStation 2 was compatible PlayStation games. The worker nodded his head and informed her that a PS2 is a PS1, PS2, and a DVD player combined into one system. After learning that information my mom asked him to get a PlayStation 2 console ready to purchase.

I don’t remember feeling happier than I did in that moment. My mom instructed me to spend the $53 on games to play on the PlayStation 2 and that I can consider the gift an early birthday present.

Buying a game wasn’t a part of my plan so I wasn’t prepared to pick out a game. After scanning the shelves quickly I decided on ATV Offroad Fury (greatest hits version) and SpongeBob SquarePants: Super Sponge.

That night I didn’t spend one minute playing either of the two games. I carefully unboxed the stylish PlayStation 2 console and stared at it in anticipation. Just being in its presence was enough to satisfy my urges for the night.

The next morning I inserted ATV Offroad Fury into the game system. I was blown away by the graphics, the sounds, and the controls. This was my first disc based game and the first game I played using a controller with two joy sticks. My humble N64 and GameBoy Pocket days were behind me as I drove an ATV poorly around a track. All of my expectations were reached and I felt elation playing the modern video game. I didn’t have a memory card to save my progress but I didn’t care. I was enthralled with the visuals and spent hours driving around on the ATV making no progress in the game.

That long unnecessary story is a set up to why I bought and played ATV Offroad Fury Pro. I didn’t get a PSP until the summer of 2011 and I bought several games to fill up my empty PSP library. In that first batch of games I bought was ATV Offroad Fury Pro, an attempt to find a sliver of nostalgia of one of my happiest memories.

ATV Offroad Fury Pro is the second game of the franchise to grace the PSP. It was released on October 26th 2006 in North America and was developed by Climax Racing (ironically a branch of the developer that created SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge, Climax Group). ATV Offroad Fury Pro is a watered down version of ATV Offroad Fury 4 that came out in the same week on the PS2 and also developed by Climax Racing.

The game controls surprisingly well minus a few polygon clipping issues. The game has the models of a PS1 game but ran at a smooth 60 fps on the handheld console.

In single player there is a championship mode featuring 10 unique events, Supercross, Rallycross, National, Freestyle, Circuit, Endurocross, Rally, Snowcross, Legends, and Olympics. These events contain a series of races (4 to 6) with 4 racers competing for first place. After each race the riders are given points based on their finishing position and the rider with the most total points after the final race wins the championship.

Within each event there are different difficulties and vehicles available. I was surprised to see the inclusion of Rally Cars, Trucks, Buggies, Dirt Bikes, and Snowmobiles in the handheld version of the game. The range of vehicles gives the player the opportunity to experience tracks differently and offers a fun re-playability element. I earned a total of 26 first place championship victories in the 15 or so hours I played this game but never unlocked the Legends and Olympics events.

In addition to finishing the race first, the game incentives the player to complete tricks to gain additional money which in turn allows the player to upgrade their vehicle and to buy better vehicles. Various sponsors that the player can choose between as offers from them become available, award more money to the player depending on the demands of the sponsor (flashy tricks, always finishing in first, etc…).

When racing ATV’s, Dirt Bikes, and Snowmobiles I found it too risky to attempt tricks while racing as one mistake can result in losing hard to obtain leads. But in trucks, rally cars, and buggies, the trick points are rewarded by chaining big air jumps and drifts together which are far more satisfying and simple to do compared to the freestyle in air tricks. I constantly had over a $1 million credits (money) because I would grind in the buggy and truck races obtaining hundreds of thousands of skill points in each race.

The online connectivity for this game ended long ago but I assume the online racing was just as enjoyable as racing the AI. I read online that there was cross connection compatibility with ATV Offroad Fury 4 on the PS2 which is impressive for the time in 2006.

One of the features that is cross compatible with the PS2 game is the card trading system. Collecting certain trading cards can result in receiving gear, parts, and new vehicles. Also the tracks created via the track editor tool can be transferred between the PSP and PS2 games. I barely touched the card system and track editor but they are cool features to be added in the game.

The most surprising aspect of ATV Offroad Fury Pro is its soundtrack. A mashup of rap, rock, and metal made the soundtrack alternative and rebellious, perfect for the teenager crowd the game was designed for. With artists like Alkaline Trio, All That Remains, From Autumn to Ashes, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Saosin, Senses Fail, and Underoath, my 16 year old self would have cherished this soundtrack.

Overall this game is an impressive handheld racer. The loading screen and user interface look a little cheap, but the short pick up and play fun racing is present making this a perfect portable on the go game. I wasn’t in awe like I was playing ATV Offroad Fury 15 years ago, but I enjoyed my time with this game over the past several weeks.