Racing Column

Racing Game of the Week #19: “Big Mutha Truckers” (2003)

“I’m drivin’ a truck,
Drivin’ a big ol’ truck,
Pedal to the metal, hope I don’t run out of luck,
Rollin’ down the highway until the break of dawn,
Drivin’ a truck with my high heels on”
-“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Truck Drivin’ Song”

 

 

FF3-NES-WhiteMage1.png “The following is a contributor post by the Purple Prose Mage“.

It is 16th April 2003. In the National Basketball Association season play-off, the Philadelphia 46ers beat the Washington Wizards 107 : 87; this is the final professional game for the Wizards’ Michael Jordan, who receives a standing ovation. Czechia, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are admitted to the European Union. “Make Luv” by Room 5 featuring Oliver Cheatham is the UK no. 1 single. Empire Interactive publishes Eutechnxy’s Big Mutha Truckers to Microsoft Windows in Europe.

Sugar, doo doo doo-doo doo doo

Big Mutha Truckers, doo doo doo-doo doo doo

I’ve never written about this game before.

Big Mutha Truckers is the most American game ever made. It’s about salt-of-the-earth truck drivers climbing the ladder of capitalism and telling those commies where to shove it. It’s also one of the most stereotypical games ever made, in which salt-of-the-earth is the same thing as being deep south hicks who literally live in Hick County, Hick State. As to be expected, there’s a character called Cletus and another who wears Daisy Dukes and is also the subject of her own brothers’ affections.

The premise of the game is Mama Jackson retiring and deciding to give the business to whichever of her truck-driving children can make the most money in 60 days. Exactly how Mama managed to run the business remains a mystery, because she doesn’t know her own age. Anyway, you’ll select one of her children as the player character. Supposedly they’re siblings, but they all look so different that they must clearly have their own fathers. And let’s not get started on the title…

Anyway.

This makes the game something of a hybrid between a truck driving simulator and a business management simulator. You’ll drive around Hick State as your character in their truck, and will, along the way, buy and sell items from its five cities. The overall aim is to buy as cheap as possible and sell as expensive as possible, with stock market symbols displaying how much of a gain or loss something will be to buy or sell. It’s like a weird, inbred version of Antiques Roadtrip. Along the way, you’ll have to account for fuel depletion and repairs.

Every city also has locales, like garages for purchasing upgrades and bars, where loan sharks and slot machines can be found. The slot machines are self-explanatory, but the loan sharks will give you more money if you need it. However, it all has to be paid back at the end – so don’t think you can just borrow enough to win. The bartenders will also tell you what products are in demand in what cities, tipping you off on what items you should buy to deliver there. The upgrades can also make certain aspects of the game easier but will ultimately come at a cost – it’s up to you to decide how much money to spend on your quest to make more. The supply and demand of certain items will be affected by local events, social or natural; for example, sailors on shore leave in one city will increase the demand for beer, increasing its selling price in that city, whereas cows becoming infected by one of your siblings trying to hump them (no, really) will create a shortage of cheese and milk to the same effect. Knowing how to capitalise on the rises-and-falls in prices and demand will help you conquer the stock market and make the most money.

Those 60 days will elapse eventually. Time does pass in-game, and the longer you take to get from city to city will limit how much progress you can make in those 60 days. The ultimate form of currency is time, and valuable usage of it is the key to success.

Naturally, you can listen to various truck driver radio stations, though for some reason there’s an absence of real truck driver lingo or C.B. radios. That’s one of the iconic elements of truck driver culture, so it’s a shame it’s not there. It would’ve been appropriate during the rival challenges – after leaving a city, you’ll be challenged to a race by another trucker. You can turn it down without losing money (only dignity) but winning will earn you some extra, so it’s all about how good you are at the game.

Another cool thing is the bikers that will attack you if you aggravate them. Seriously, don’t drive into the bikers on the highway, or they will launch a hijack. You know that hilarious scene in one of the all-time most underrated comedy movies, Rat Race? It’s like that, except one of the bikers will jump onto your trailer and you have to literally shake them off. It’s quite fun. Of course, if it happens too often then the bikers will give chase merely upon the sight of you, no motivation needed. It’s also convenient when one of your rivals incurs the bikers’ wrath, because it gives you a lead.

Another impressive thing about the game is the physics of the trailers. They can be traded at city garages, and there are different types. Oil tankers can transport fuel, while refrigerated trailers can store cooler products. The different trailer you have affects what products you can transport, so it’s down to you to get a return on your investment. But each trailer feels a different weight to the other, and they each have that pull to them where they feel like a great mass attached to the cabin. If you ditch your trailer, or if a biker disconnects it, the lone cabin will drive differently. It’s a convincing job.

Big Mutha Truckers is a strange game with a strange sensibility so it’s faded somewhat into obscurity. But it’s like a more fun version of the kind of naff exercise you might get in math(s) class.


This really is the best gameplay footage I could find:

 

The Purple Prose Mage is the author of the Racing Game of the Week column and is currently working on a documentary about the Driver series for its 20th anniversary on 25th June. He also likes reviewing the latest book he’s read on his own blog, covering the World Rally Championship and generally posting about what he’s been playing, at alexsigsworth.wordpress.com.

 

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