I remember the first time I saw Ballblazer, the 1984 game, running on a friend's Atari 800. The split-screen 3d graphics and fast action blew my socks off.
Looking back, I get the impression there are some advanced 3d graphics techniques that appear to be used, but that would be either incredibly unique or impossible to achieve on mid-1980s 8-bit computers and consoles. The "rotofoil" players look like 3d polygonal modeling, which I am not aware of being used for any other fast-action 3d games on 8-bits. There were ground-breaking 16-bit games, like Arcticfox and Carrier Command that used polygonal modelling, but these games only managed wireframe 3d when ported to 8-bit machines. Another famous 8-bit game limited to wireframe was Elite. So, Ballblazer seems to be an early 3d standout with its solid, flat-shaded models.
Additionally, the 3d play field shows correct perspective at a high frame rate and looks like texture mapping to me. This almost has to be a programming trick.
Ballblazer was very successful, which led to many ports to other 8-bit systems. To my eye, the original Atari 800 and the Atari 7800 console versions look the best. The C64 version is also pretty true to the original.
How did Ballblazer appear to pull off these advanced 3d rendering techniques for 8-bit micros of the day, especially since all other games using these techniques only appeared on 16-bit systems years later? Are there any tell-tale signs of known programming tricks?