Stunts (video game)

Infobox VG
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title = Stunts


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developer = Distinctive Software, Inc.
publisher = Brøderbund, Mindscape
distributor =
designer = Don Mattrick Kevin Pickell Brad Gour Rob Martyn Stan Chow
license =
series =
engine =
version = 1.1
released = October 1990
genre = Racing game
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = PC (MS-DOS), Amiga, NEC PC-9801
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requirements =
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"Stunts" (also known as "4D Sports Driving") is an early 3D racing video game developed by Distinctive Software, Inc.. The game places emphasis on racing on the stunt tracks and features a track editor.

Description

In "Stunts", players race a lap around the circuit, with the aim of completing the lap as quickly as possible without crashing. However, these laps often feature special track areas such as loops, jumps (including over tall buildings), slalom roads and corkscrews. The game area is restricted by a large fixed size square area defined and surrounded by a fence which the player can not leave. Players can either race against the clock or choose between six different opponents; there is no support for real-time multiplayer. "Stunts" features 11 different drivable cars, with either automatic or manual transmission. Replays of races can be saved and reviewed. There are four camera views available during replay and actual driving, and the dashboard is an optional overlay on all views. In addition, there is a built-in track editor that lets players design their own tracks.

The cars can drive on paved roads, gravel roads, icy/snow roads, and grass if driving off the track — which all offer different levels of grip. The game has a relatively advanced pseudo-physics engine for its time which can simulate oversteer and understeer, and driving through a banked corner gives the car more grip. The graphics are a combination of 3D polygons and sprites with no textures, running in 320×200 with 256 colors. There is an option to select high and low detail. The game is written for MS-DOS and executes in real mode.

"Stunts" includes a form of copy prevention. Each time after running the program, players must complete a specific phrase found in the game manual before being allowed to race. If the player fails to complete the phrase three times, the next race will still load. However, approximately four seconds into the race, the player is informed that he or she did not deactivate the car's security system, the car crashes, and the player is returned to the main menu.

Release

The game was originally made for the PC and then ported for Amiga, FM Towns and NEC PC-9801.

"Stunts" version 1.0 was published by Brøderbund in October for the United States. A year later the version 1.1 was developed, which fixed some bugs. This version was again released by Brøderbund for the United States, and was also published by Mindscape for the European market.

The Mindscape release had the title changed to "4D Sports Driving", to make the game a part of their "4D Sports" brand (the other games of the line were "4D Sports Boxing" and "4D Sports Tennis"). Some minor game engine differences exists between Stunts 1.1 version and 4D Sports Driving 1.1 version, like driving through tunnel roofs in Mindscape version, while you crash on the roof in Brøderbund version.

The Amiga version was published in 1992 by Mindscape under the name "4D Sports Driving" (version 1.2). Music is improved compared to PC versions.

The PC-9801 version was titled "4D Driving" (version 1.0) and was published by Electronic Arts Victor in 1993. Due to PC-9801 limitations, this version had the music synthetized and title and menu graphics changed from the previous platform's releases, although the gameplay remained mainly the same. [cite web|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_V4PD614j0|title=PC 98: 4d Driving (intro) on YouTube|accessdate=2008-06-15]

FM Towns version is also named "4D Driving" (version 1.0) and was also published by Electronic Arts Victor in 1993. Due to FM Towns capacities, music has been changed and improved, and new songs added. Title page and menu graphics are also modified, close to PC-9801 version but with better graphics.In FM Towns version, the opponent's pictures has been replaced by real photos, and Bernie Rubber character is replaced by Masahiko, a Japanese guy. His dedicated track remains the same as Bernie's track.This version has the original Otto's track. This track was forgotten in previous versions.The gameplay remained mainly the same, but there is less collision bugs and no "powergear" effect bug. Way-switching bug and chicane bug remain present. Unlike DOS version, when you use manual gears you have to stop accelerating when switching gear up or down, making the game more realistic in driving style and also limiting the advantage of manual gears compared to automatic gears.

Stunts was also ported to the Sega Genesis but was never released as the as the frame rate for that version was not up to an acceptable rate to make the game playable.

Bugs

There were a number of unusual bugs in the game which affected both AI opponents and the player. Far from ruining the gameplay, they were considered by many to enhance it, or at least make the game an altogether more amusing experience. Bugs ranged from vehicles suddenly jumping to insanely high speeds, hardly able to be controlled, that would not be slowed down by leaving the road or crashing into the perimeter of the level, to cars bouncing off hills or jumps and then leaping hundreds of metres to the ceiling of the level, where they would float for up to half a minute before falling back to earth and exploding, to cars bouncing progressively higher off the track and soaring into the air. Explosions after landing large jumps were also commonplace.

Other bugs of note included unusual collision detection, whereby cutting in front of an AI opponent and touching his car would cause both vehicles to freeze for a moment, with their engines revving independant of the player's input, then suddenly one or both cars would either explode or instantly ricochet off at several hundred miles an hour, or both, often rising into the air and spiralling round to the ground after several seconds. This would often also happen a few seconds after an accident, if the two cars ended up touching oneanother.

The AI was also somewhat overzealous. If overtaken by the player, the opponent would sometimes lose control, zig-zagging ever more severely until they crashed into the track wall or next obstacle.

"Stunts" today

Although the game is more than 17 years old, it has a large fanbase worldwide. There are many web sites that increased public exposure by providing information and copies of the game. The compact size of "Stunts", which is only 1MB when zipped, may also had contributed to the game's popularity. Online "Stunts" competitions, in which the competition master would receive race replays on certain tracks via e-mail, is also booming.

At present, worldwide "Stunts" communities remain strong and active. Forums and websites dedicated to the game remain operational, several "Stunts" competitions are still organized (see the Stunts Racing Portal link below for active competitions links) and the first World "Stunts" Meeting took place in Budapest, Hungary on August 2004. It has been followed by 2 other meetings: Aarhus (Denmark) in 2005 and Budapest again in 2006, proving that Stunts community is and will remain active.

Similar games

"Stunts" was preceded by other stunt-themed racing games - notably Geoff Crammond's "Stunt Car Racer", Atari Games' "Hard Drivin'", and "Stunt Driver" by Spectrum Holobyte. "Stunts" is highly similar in style to the last one - both games place the player on a stunt track filled with obstacles, and both feature a grid-based track editor. "Stunt Driver", however, allows to compete against four computer-controlled opponents simultaneously.

There are several modern "Stunts"-like games in existence, of which the most popular as of 2008 is the "TrackMania" series. "Crashday" and "GripShift" (for PC and PSP) also adopt several elements from "Stunts". Both games feature a track construction kit, allowing players to create "Stunts"-like courses, with the option to race against other competitors or play in a time trial mode. An open source clone of "Stunts", "Ultimate Stunts", is currently being developed at Source Forge.

References

External links

* [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pcMeCUzZ6sA The ultra high speed bug in the hands of an experienced player (courtesy of YouTube)]
* [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=lYlKFtu7RNY The ultra-high jump bug (courtesy of YouTube]
* [http://stunts.hu The "Stunts" Racing Portal]
*
* [http://www.ibiblio.org/GameBytes/issue20/misc/stunts.html "Stunts" GameBytes review]


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