Amstrad Action


Stunt Car Racer

Author: Trenton Webb
Publisher: Micro Style
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #59

Stunt Car Racer

Hard Drivin' meets Chase HQ - and the result is the truly awesome Stunt Car Racer. It brings you the thrill of an accurate driving simulation plus the sheer excitement of fender-to-fender racing, where everything goes, even high-speed ramming.

Set in some mythical time when F1 racing was banned for being bland, Stunt Car Racer is the new sport that has emerged to satisfy the public's need for thrills, spills and automotive antics. Short sprint racing around insane rollercoaster courses, the Stunt Cars are sand buggies with outrageous amounts of boost under the bonnet. The courses are the result of some funfair designer's worst nightmare, which means there's plenty to satisfy the public's lust for blood and your need for stunning head-to-head driving action.

The game itself is simple in concept. You're a driver at the start of a racing season, and thanks to the right incentives and crossing the correct palms with silver you've won a place in the Stunt Car League, albeit in the fourth division. Now your aim is to rise through the ranks and win promotion to the top of the tree.

Stunt Car Racer

There are three drivers per division, and each division has two different tracks. To win promotion a driver must earn more points than his rivals - there's two for a win and one for the fastest lap. Finishing top means more dangerous racing; finishing last means it's Swindon City, as you are dropped down a league.

The racing itself is where the art is. Towering above the countryside, the tracks are impressive with ramps, bumps and banked corners. The cars are winched up by crane with engines running ready for a drop start. Slowly but surely, the cars swing into position; seconds later they're dropped, with the power unit at full revs, the Boost button pressed to the floor.

When the chains release, the cars charge forward, flames licking out of the afterburners. As the two cars jockey for position, a small flag flashes on the dash - red if the other guys in front, green if you've nabbed an early lead. Each track starts with a straight, so there's always little to choose between the buggies as they scream towards the first obstacle. It's how you fare from here in that matters.

Stunt Car Racer

Sweeping through the first banked bend, the cars can be seen going head to head. Your dashboard and engine stretch out ahead, and if the other guy's doing well you can see his motor as he overtakes. Of course, using the boost you can scream past him. giving a playful nudge in the process. Now it's your call - is it best to hassle from behind noting his line and speed, or blast through and trust to blind luck?

Feel that stomach-churning thrill of leaping high into the air off ramps, only to massively overshoot and land in the middle of the next corner. Crest hills and watch the nose dive down, as the track drops away from under your wheels. Scream in anger as an overly rapid approach to a reverse camber throws you clear of the track and spinning into space...

Crashes are bad news. Firstly, they cost the race. A crane has to winch you back onto the track, and there's only time to do this once and still have a chance. More importantly, there's the damage it does. As you impact on the track, or hit the ground from a great height, a crack starts to grow in the top of your safety cage. After a really heavy knock, holes appear, too. If the crack reaches all the way across, the car's a wreck and it's race over. Luckily the crack's repaired between bouts, so the motor always has a clean bill of health at the start. A hole, on the other hand, is with you for the rest of the season!

Stunt Car Racer

The art of the game is knowing when to use your limited amount of boost, when it's best to leap a hill and when it's best to go slow and ensure you stay on the track. Stunt Car Racers have to balance the potential damage of smashing around the track and crashing into opponents, against the need to finishing in one piece.

There are eight crazy tracks to learn, each more improbable and dangerous than the last, and eleven speed freaks to beat. It's head-to-head to racing at its best, meanest and most convincing.

Technically, the game's as stunning to look at as it is fun to play. The graphics are spartan, but are solid enough to be thoroughly convincing. The tracks are fast - real fast - and always easy to see (if not stay on). The right balance has been struck between reality and playability: the steering's self centring and there are no gears, but the vehicle movement is spine-jarringly accurate. The gameplay comes not only from the racing, but the damage, the limited boost and the hugely difficult courses.

Stunt Car Racer

Stunt Car Racer comes from the Micro Style label, and with Microprose as a parent company, you know the game is going to be thoroughly thought out and implemented. Stunt Car has a special 6128 version, a special Green Screen version and can be played with an AMX mouse! Now that's attention to detail!

With the pace of the race, the smoothness of the screen updates, the variety of options and more playability than any one game deserves, it stakes its claim as one of the best games ever on the CPC! It's got a wicked hook and, with the 'save driver' feature, enough gameplay to last even the most ardent desk-bound driver for decades.

Stunt Car Racer is simply the best. Drive baby drive, put that pedal to the floor and go crazy. Why? Because you have to be slightly touched to even consider taking on the this crowd of speed nutters, but you'd also be nuts to miss the chance of this much fun shoehorned into one game!

Second Opinion

Stunt Car Racer

The 3D graphics move really fast, but car control is well up to the on-screen speeds. Very playable indeed.

First Day Target Score

Win the fourth division.

Green Screen View

The special "mono" version is superb.

Verdict

Graphics 91%
P. Superfast 3D racing.
P. Spartan but special.

Sonics 3%
N. Buzzsaw engines.

Grab Factor 98%
P. Anyone could pick it up in seconds.
P. Eight courses to practice.

Staying Power 94%
P. The computer drivers are tough...
P. ...and the courses are too!

Overall 96%
A truly stunning racing sim that leaves the rest for dead.

Trenton Webb

Other Amstrad CPC464 Game Reviews By Trenton Webb


  • Hard Drivin' Front Cover
    Hard Drivin'
  • The Running Man Front Cover
    The Running Man
  • Cabal Front Cover
    Cabal
  • Jinks Front Cover
    Jinks
  • The Games: Summer Edition Front Cover
    The Games: Summer Edition
  • Castle Master Front Cover
    Castle Master
  • Dynamic Duo Front Cover
    Dynamic Duo
  • Thunderbirds Front Cover
    Thunderbirds
  • Scramble Spirits Front Cover
    Scramble Spirits
  • Rock 'N Roll Front Cover
    Rock 'N Roll