Stunt Car Racer (Third Review)

Title		Stunt Car Racer (Third Review)
Game Type	Driving
Author		Geoff Crammond/John Cumming
Company		Micro Style
Players		1 or 2 via Serial
HD Installable	No
Compatibility   ECS
Submission	D.J.

If you don't like driving games, give this one a try. Stunt Car Racer is
one of the few race games I actually like to play and can play fairly
well. And not, I hope because I'm a bad driver; I drive a bus for a
living. Thankfully I don't abuse my bus or my passengers in the rough and
ready way the tough buggies in this game are treated. The skills taught in
racing games are rarely applicable to safe driving, at least.

	Stunt Car Racer was one of the first Virtual Reality games, using a
mathematically described geometry of space, surfaces and objects. The
graphics are primitive (by today's standards), simple polygons. The road
is a raised, sometimes VERY raised, rollercoaster style track, with leaps
and ramps and gut wrenching drops and (in one case) a hellish drawbridge.
The surface, although it is made of twisting rectangular sections, has
remarkable realistic driving characteristics. The cars lean into banked
curves, not that they steer themselves but the steering does react to the
angle of the road. The cars don't stick to the track. If you steer toward
the road edge, just before becoming airborne (and you will spend a good
deal of time in the air), then you can easily overshoot curves and end up
in a precipitous drop to the ground. You can jump over oponents or slip
under them, driving through their shadow for the lead (yes, the cars cast

	Your car is a reinforced mini racer. A crane hoists you up to the
raised surface, dangling from chains, then drops you on the track. Your
view of the track is through the roll bar and over your souped up engine.
One complaint here, you can't see much of the upcoming corners and curves
when you are in them. Flames from the manifold indicate that you are using
your nitro boost to assist your normal acceleration. But don't over do it;
sometimes speed is not the best policy, plus you could find your self
running out of juice at the decisive moment of a race. Your dash board has
a speedometer (of course) plus readouts on available booster fuel as well
as lap and race times.

	The default controller is the joystick, but I find it to be a little
flakey and prefer to use keys instead. There is an option to choose your
own keyboard configuration, which is good, NO?

      The roll bar records the abuse you heap on your car. During a race,
minor impacts cause a crack to creep across the frame. If it gets too long
your car's a wreck and you lose that race. While the cracks are repaired
before each race, more serious hits puncture the roll bar and these breaks
accumulate throughout your career, "softening" your car and making the
crack spread faster and the wrecks happen quicker. Since the later tracks
dish out some stern beatings it's better to take it easy at first

      You can practice the different tracks. There are eight in all, two
for each racing division. The best way to learn though is to compete and
follow the computer drivers around for a while, copying their technique
and them improving upon it for the wins. You start at the bottom of the
rankings and compete for points (for wins and fastest laps). You race one
on one, three times in a season, against two other division drivers. The
top driver advances to the next division. If you don't measure up you can
get demoted too; back to the bush leagues with you! Just as the tracks get
more difficult the competing drivers get more aggressive; bumping is not
only allowed, it is mandatory!

      There is also an option for going head to head with another person,
via modem but I haven't had that pleasure yet.

      Stunt Car Racer is a much ignored classic. It's well modeled vehicle
and road responses make it more challenging than those "stick to the road
and go like hell" games. The graphics are a bit sparse and a Point of View
option, with a choice of camera positions, would have been nice. Still,
it's just as much fun to go flying off a curve into oblivion as it is to
actually win a race.

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