#1: Stunt Car Racer

Format: Amiga Genre: Racing Released: 1989 Developer: MicroStyle

Bizarrely, the inaugural post on this blog is for a racing game. Bizarre because generally I don’t actually like racing games that much; yet, when I think about it, the two or three that I’ve really enjoyed (Ridge Racer, Burnout 3, Gran Turismo) probably rank up there as some of my favourite game experiences, and Stunt Car Racer certainly deserves a special mention.

Most racing games before the mid-nineties were pretty rubbish. It was only with the 3D revolution that racing games really reached their full potential – before that it was all stripey grey race tracks and simplistic leftright leftright holddownthebutton gameplay (try playing a game like Lotus Challenge now and I guarantee the nostalgia won’t last beyond a couple of pixellated crash barriers). However, Stunt Car Racer WAS in 3D at a time when perhaps only a handful of games were, and what’s more it used the 3D space in a way that few games have, before or since.

The raison d’etre of Stunt Car Racer is the tracks – glorious, insane, rollercoaster-like tracks that leave you gripping the joystick for dear life as you hurtle through the air after burning up impossible ramps, then gritting your teeth as you plummet back down, engine still racing, the screen cartwheeling as you miss the track by inches and smash into the dirt below with a bone-shattering crunch. At a time when racing meant dodging in and out of identical 2D cars, Stunt Car Racer did vertical – and how. There was even a loop-the-loop…

The key thing about all this vertical fun was the ever-present sense of danger – there were no barriers to any of the tracks, so you always felt that just one small slip of the wrist could send you hurtling into the abyss, costing you valuable time as your stricken vehicle is winched back onto the track and, more importantly, causing potentially race-ending damage to your car. Above all, it was the intense adrenalin rush this caused that is my stand-out memory of the game; that and the excellent two player mode (only available over a link cable, but more than worth the considerable hassle of stringing together several wires and tellies).

I sold my Amiga recently (sacrilege I know), but I booted up Stunt Car for one last go before I carted the whole lot off to Mr Ebay. It’s lost none of it’s charm: sure, the graphics are basic (even for the time) and there’s only one other car on the track at any one time (believe it or not, that blocky red thing in the screenshot is a car), but it still retains an impressive sense of speed and danger as you hurtle round those suicide bends.

The creator of the game, Geoff Crammond (dubbed ‘Sir’ by Amiga Power), later went on to create the seminal Formula One Grand Prix series on the Amiga, but I’ll always remember him for this classic game. Nice one Sir Geoff.

Lewis

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15 Comments

Filed under 1989, Amiga, MicroStyle, Racing

15 responses to “#1: Stunt Car Racer

  1. Stuart Barr

    I have fond memories of playing this on the Amiga as a student, we had two Amigas in our student digs and were able to serial link them for multiplayer action, which was awesome.

    Now how about a mention for 3D Deathchase on the speccy, I actually spotted this at last year’s Game On and the Science Museum and spent a good 20 minutes mashing two rubber keys.

  2. lewispackwood

    The link-up mode on Stunt Car was awesome! They should make something similar for the DS – it would be perfect for wireless link-up.

    I haven’t played 3D Deathchase, but I’m loving it for the name alone. I never really had many Speccy games, but I’ve always had fond memories of Horace Goes Skiing – watch this space for a write up on it.

  3. Stuart Barr

    3D Deathchase consisted of riding a motorbike through a forest, swerving left and right to avoid trees and ocassionaly shooting at another motorbike. the controls were left, right and fire. That was it. This was my favorite game for months.

  4. Chris Raine

    I remember this game! It was great. I remember being very impressed with the 3D rendering.

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  7. Yep, very cool. My older brother played this with his friend Col, via two Amiga’s and the Serial Cable. Very cool indeed.

  8. mrlindbergs

    This game is still awesome.. something got just right in this one and still is (2014) better than most new games..

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  10. Barkie

    You could actually link this game up between an ST and a Amiga, still play it on STEEM now and again.

  11. Stunning quest there. What happened after? Take care!

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  13. I like this blog so much, saved to my bookmarks .

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