Review by RetroBunny (2018-10-24)
Stunts is in fact a pretty basic racing game from… let me look that up for you really quick… 1991. Why I am I sitting here, 27 years later, writing a review about some old racing game? Don't I have way better things to do?
Well, because Stunts was and is still relevant, at least in my eyes, even in 2018. The game follows a very straight forward gameplay mechanic: the player, from a limited pool of available vehicles, chooses a car and drives this car through a track against the clock. There are loopings, steep curves, jumps and obstacles. This is all presented in basic vector 3D graphics. That's all, really. But, this is only the foundation of something much bigger… here's where it gets more interesting.
1. Stunts includes a track editor. Everyone can edit a track exactly to their liking or come up with something new and unique. As soon as you've put a few parts together within the editor, you can instantly jump into the game and look at or drive on your creation in 3D.
2. You can not only create these worlds for yourself, but you are free to share your tracks with everyone else. At the time, we used floppy disks, today there is the Internet, of course.
For a game from the early 90s, this was kinda revolutionary. Adding to the simplicity of sharing tracks: The entire game was quite small, so you could easily fit the game + all of your customized tracks onto a single floppy disk and share a couple of these disks with your classmates in school. You would hand out disks adding a challenge to "beat my times, if you dare!" Stunts worked on pretty much any computer, even the very old ones.
Today, some decades later, the world of gaming has changed quite a bit, indeed. Online racing games, mass multiplayer online games, mobile games, whatever. There are certainly many opportunities to play games and there are even games that are quite similar to Stunts, for example the beloved TrackMania in its many forms. But some things have changed: You want to drive a certain car or you want your car to be of a certain colour? "In-game-purchase!" You want these new tracks to race on? "In-game-purchase!" You want… something? Anything? You gotta pay up! And don't even think about playing without being online and logged into some server at all times! IT SUCKS!
You want to edit the original stock tracks of Stunts? Sure, go ahead. They're just regular files. Another car? Sure – just pick one, they're yours! Back in the day you actually owned a game. THIS WAS MY GAME! My computer, my floppy disks! Not anyone else's business!
Thus, at the end of my review, I've come full circe and back to the question: "Why is Stunts still relevant in 2018?" Because it is – as simple and basic it is presented – reminding us about what gaming is, or should be, really all about the freedom to play. It's a game, for crying out loud! You are supposed to play with it in any way you like, not rent some service from some greedy company running on their servers by their rules!
Review by astocky (2016-09-19)
Stunts by Broderbund, is an excellent racing game from 1990, that was one of the first to offer a fully featured (at least for the time) tile based track editor as well as offering a compelling driving experience all playable on a 286 system. Hours of fun can be had designing, sharing and competing against your friends (time trial style).
Combine that with an excellent selection of cars to fit every driving style:
- Acura NSX
- Audi Quattro Sport (20v version)
- Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (1990 model)
- Ferrari 288 GTO
- Jaguar XJR-9 IMSA Sports car
- Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
- Lamborghini LM002
- Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v
- Porsche 962 IMSA Sports car
- Porsche 911 Carrera 4 (964 version)
- Porsche March IndyCar
...and the only issue is they didn't release a direct sequel.
The track editor is fantastic but rather simple with each tile having a selection of entities (including roads, bridges, trees and buildings) that can be placed. Rotation is not an option so typically each tile has four different versions - one per rotation. The track editor also allows for the creation of multiple paths to the start/finish line, and here lies the first problem; if the track does not connect as the editor expects, you can save it, but not drive it. And there is no error explaining why. This has led me to numerous long sessions of tile-by-tile checking a complex track only to find a single piece of road that was incorrectly rotated. The other main downside is that the editor does not allow any form of dragging or drawing and each tile must be placed individually.
But I can't think of another racing game that offers anywhere near the flexibility and replayability that Stunts offers.
Given rating of 5 not 6 because of the minor issues with the track editor and some rather unforgiving driving physics.