Stunt Car Racer is a 3D racing game with a difference. Released by MicroStyle in 1989 for the Commodore Amiga, Stunt Car Racer sees you hurtling around elevated tracks against a single AI-controlled car in a race to be the first across the finishing line.
This does not sound like anything too original, but the secret is with the location of the races and the game’s physics. Each race is set up on a rollercoaster-style track, with each track offering unique challenges and its own personalities.
There are 8 tracks in total, which are spread across four divisions in the single-player league, where you race against 3 competitors in each division.
The tracks start off as fairly simple challenges, such as the first track being called ‘The Little Ramp’. It is exactly as it sounds, a track with a little ramp. It’s a great entry point into the game where it does not spring too many surprises on you, so you can get a feel for the physics.
As you progress you will be met with more challenging tracks such as the Roller Coaster and the Ski Jump. It becomes crucial in the later levels to time your jumps and pace yourself for the corners, otherwise, it is very easy to launch yourself off the track.
Your car is equipped with a booster which can be activated by pressing the fire button, where you can see the flames shooting from the pipes of the engine. But be sure to use your boost wisely as you only have a certain amount per race.
You can also see the distance between yourself and your opponent which helps when it comes to pacing yourself, especially on the more difficult tracks.
The game has a damage system which forces you to balance speed and not be too rough with the car. This is shown by a crack that begins to appear at the top of the chassis, if you smash your car particularly hard, a hole appears which speeds up the rate your car can get destroyed.
Ultimately, once the crack reaches the other side of the frame, your car is broken and you are out of the race.
Stunt Car Racer was one of few unique games that have the ability to play over a serial cable, not only with another Amiga but amazingly also with an Atari ST. I never managed to get this linked up with a friend on an Amiga or Atari ST, but can only imagine how much more fun this game would be playing with a friend.
The game even received an unofficial fan update in 2004, with Stunt Car Racer TNT (The New Tracks), which is a simple update where a new set of tracks are introduced as well as some tweaks to the AI performance and a few changes to the visuals.
Stunt Car Racer plays as good today as it did over 30 years ago and is one of the games that helped Geoff Crammond establish his ever-improving reputation at the time, as being the master of simulator-style driving games, without doubt, one of the best Amiga games ever made.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of experience in the field, so producing retro orientated content for How To Retro comes is second nature to him. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).