Stunts. Where do I begin with Stunts? This was my first obsession when it came to video games. I couldn’t get enough of Stunts. It was a racing game sandbox I’d jump into anytime I had the chance. I still from time to time will play free versions of it online as it was just that cool.
Before we go any further, I need address something that has been eating away at me for decades. I swear Bush’s hit song Everything Zen reminds me of the main menu music in Stunts. Don’t believe me? Listen to these ten seconds from Stunts. Now listen to ten seconds from Everything Zen.
Ok, now that I have gotten that off my chest, back to the game. The first thing I loved about Stunts was the cars. The actual look of the cars in the game were fairly basic with their blocky 3D-like shapes, but the car selection screen got me excited. There was a detailed specs screen with vehicle name, drivetrain layout, engine configuration, size and power as well performance specs. Heck, even the price was there and if that wasn’t enough, each car had an acceleration curve next it.
Each car a variety of colours to choose from and could be had with either a manual or automatic transmission. Once behind the wheel, the level of detail for each car’s interior was amazing for the time. The level of detail and accuracy for each of the game’s car was spot on. The Corvette ZR1’s digital gauge cluster was near flawless while the LM002 wood dash and XJR-8’s purple cockpit were unmistakable.
While on the topic, the car choices were fantastic. The hottest cars of the time were included like the Acura NSX, Ferrari F40 and Porsche 911 (964). As mentioned, there was the ridiculous Lamborghini LM002 truck and a few throwback legends like the Ferrari 288 GTO and Audi Quattro B2.
But it was the racecars that were the most fun. The Jaguar XJR-8 and Porsche 962 could obtain insane air on the various jumps, but if absolute lunacy was
wanted needed, the Porsche March Indycar was there to please.
The only sort of racing that could be done was either a time trial, or a head-to-head race against one of several opponents. Like the cars, these opponents were highly detailed containing names, age, height, years’ experience, their advantages and disadvantages, a headshot and a detailed biography. Starting with the easiest, Squealin’ Bernie Rubber, each opponent got more difficult.
But before any sort of racing could begin, there was the dreaded Security Code Screen. Back in the early 1990s it was quite easy to pirate a game by sampling copying the floppy disks. To help prevent this, developers thought up creative ways to stop people from using copied games. One way was to force people to sift through a massive instruction manual looking for a specific word that would allow entry into the game. This was infuriating as the manual had to be located, then the right page found, followed by counting paragraphs and words. Thankfully people quickly found hacks around this.
Once in the game, the actual racing action wasn’t great. It was choppy, abrupt and hard to control. But this wasn’t a hardcore racer. The game’s real purpose was the driving experience and physics. There were different surfaces like asphalt, dirt and snow that had the car react differently. There were loops to drive through, corkscrews, banked turns, tunnels, hills, jumps, and so much more. It was more fun to ignore the racing and just drive around exploring, crashing and utilizing the multiple angle instant replay.
By far the best part of the game though, was the track editor. Every detail of a course could be manipulated. The terrain surface and height, water, road surface and corner angles could all be customized. It was possible to add intersections and road splits, so the course could double back on itself or split into separate sections.
The game was called Stunts after all, so trick roadways like loop-da-loops, corkscrews and banking could be added. For those looking for a bit of air there were jumps, ramps, and bridges. Obstacles could be put on or off the road. For the time, it seemed absolutely limitless and I ended up spending far more time building tracks than ever actually driving.
I’ll go on record to this day that this was one of the most signification racing games ever created. It was one of the first games with so much content to satisfy nearly any player. The serious racer, the creative customizer, or those that just want to just the world burn and create epic crashes to watch repeatedly. There was a bit of something for everyone.