Cart: Stunt Car Racer Cab: Atari ST / Amiga Coin: Microprose
In a world that’s peppered with re-makes and re-boots, it’s always amazed me why no-one’s bothered to revisit the seminal, Atari ST and Amiga classic: Stunt Car Racer.
The concept is blissfully simple: drive a car as fast as humanly possible around narrow, raised tracks based on rollercoaster designs. No barriers, no limits, fierce opponents, limited boost capability and constant damage inflicted upon the car that will, if not carefully managed, result in premature demise.
Part hardcore driving game, part giddy thrill-ride and, somewhat unusually, part resource management; the most stunning aspect of SCR was the handling. Weighty and physical and yet responsive and nimble, it was simply decades ahead of its time. Remember that this was the era of Buggy Boy, Supercars, Outrun and Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. There was simply no other game out there that dealt with the concepts of suspension, camber, topology and gravity – let alone one that aced everything in its first attempt.
Developed by the legendary Geoff Crammond and released in 1989, three years after his bleak masterpiece ‘The Sentinel’; SCR was also one of the very first 3D games that supported system-link play. And although the effort required to hook-up two Atari STs was considerable, the rewards were as great as any multiplayer experience that I have ever had the pleasure to have been a part of.
It was pure joy.
Very few games that I have played over the last thirty years have stayed with me as much has SCR has, but recently I began to wonder if that was a misguided sense of romantic nostalgia built on the naïve perceptions of youth or a cold, hard fact.
Well, thanks to the outstanding effort, talent and commitment of one Dan Vernon, I was able to put that theory to the test. And guess what – After 23 years, it didn’t disappoint.
The thrill as you approach the first corner of each track; the sense of dread as you fly into the abyss over a blind jump; the sheer exhilaration as you make a perfect landing; the confidence that slowly grows as you memorise each track’s nuances; the anger that pulses through you as an opponent pulls away and the sweet taste of a hard-earned victory – helped in no small part by sheer dumb luck and good fortune!
Absolutely everything that I loved about this stunning game has remained in-tact and whilst the aborted 2003 sequel was an arrow through my heart, in hindsight it’s perhaps best that we leave perfection alone.
Geoff Crammond & Dan Vernon: Voxel Arcade salutes you!
Word to the wise: use F9/F10 to slow the game down to its original speed…then savour the moment!