Stunt Racing Games

#1

Let’s talk about stunt racing games!

Racing games have always held a special place in my gaming history, and I think it’s in large part due to the stunt racer and the love and frustration they bring.

I’m going to talk about a few of my favourites.


STUNT CAR RACER

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This was my first stunt racing game. Released in 1989, I would have been 9 or 10 years old when I first laid my eyes on what would become one of my most memorable Amiga games. Developed by Geoff Crammond (who fittingly has a physics degree), and published by Microprose. The game puts you on thin tracks closely resembling a roller coaster ride, and they get steeper and more difficult as you progress through the game. The feel of speed and the floaty physics lent itself to a game that felt dangerous. Your car felt heavy and lumbering, and as you raced around the tracks your car would creak and slowly tear itself apart due to the stresses put on the car by your driving. It was meant to be unnerving. It was punishingly difficult, and it made you really pay attention to how you landed your jumps, ensuring you got the speed just right to reduce damage.

There are quite a few tracks to master, and a whole host of unique racers to defeat on your way to the championship.

It’s a fantastic game, and I still enjoy playing it now. There is also a C64 port that is incredibly well done for the capabilities of the system.


WHIPLASH

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Known as Fatal Racing tho the rest of the world, Whiplash was developed by Gremlin Interactive, who were known for creating Gauntlet, the Top Gear games, and many others. It’s a modern style racer with stunt tendencies in the early days of 3D games on MSDOS. Later versions would include support for dedicated GPUs in the Voodoo line of graphics cards.

Mostly, the tracks were in cities and other landscapes, with features thrown in like loop-the-loops and corkscrews for the stunts. Not taking itself too seriously, there is an announcer that’s not too dissimilar to other racing games of the period. He’ll either encourage you when you finish a lap, or tell you when you’re going too slow. When your car launches over a corkscrew, you can hear the driver shouting “YEEEEE HAWW HAWWW!”.

The gameplay largely seems a little wonky and slow by today’s standards, but the game was a huge hit with me. It was a fun game that didn’t take itself very seriously, and I played through it several times brie moving on to other games.


CARMAGEDDON II: CARPOCALYPSE NOW

Carmageddon II was an arena style racing game where you are pit against a grid of other racers in a kill-or-be-killed race. The game was developed by Stainless Games, who went on to produce a bunch of Arcade remakes and MTG Card games before eventually returning to create a long awaited continuation to the Carmageddon franchise. The game takes its inspiration from the 1975 film Death Race 2000. Sure you can win by racing, but it’s much more fun to just kill all the other racers before the race ends (you can also win by wiping out every pedestrian on the map, and there are TONS).

This game has massive maps, tons of power-ups, and lots of hidden secrets to find. It’s not inherently a stunt racing game, but I included it because of its tendency to reward those who explore. There are high up places with special power-ups all over, that you can only get to by taking huge leap of faith jumps from some ramp off in the distance.

I spent entire weekends with friends at a LAN parties, laughing and having a great time with this title.


ROLLCAGE STAGE II

Rollcage Stage II was a futuristic weapons based racer where the main shtick was that your car didn’t really have an upside and downside. It could drive either way just fine, and this led the way to tracks designed to take advantage of the feature. Tracks that allow you to drive on the ceiling, tracks with areas that loop around in a corkscrew, etc.

Rollcage Stage II was developed by the infamous Psygnosis, who made their name by creating some of the most prolific Amiga games of all time. Shadow of the Beast, Lemmings, Ballistix, Last Action Hero, Barbarian, and many others. Later on they would develop the Wipeout and Destruction Derby series. Rollcage Stage II was also one of the first ever games to support a special bump mapping technology that was only available to owners of the Matrox Millennium G400 GPUs (which I had at the time).

The real lure of this game in my opinion was the Scramble Mode. It’s a puzzle style mode where the tracks are purposefully difficult, and you earn medals based on your time to the finish. There are no other racers, just you and the clock. Tough obstacles and ever increasing difficulty meant you had to learn your car’s intricacies to stand a chance of finishing the tracks.


Zooming ahead now to more modern gaming, there is one title that really takes it to the next level. If you’re a fan of stunt racing games, you really need to check this series out!

TRACKMANIA

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The Trackmania series of games started with the original game back in 2003. It was developed by a then-completely-unknown French developer called Nadeo. The game features three different cars, each with their own unique handling characteristics, and own environments, with completely different track sets and obstacles. You primarily race against the clock, and when you do play online, there is no collision with other cars, so the clock is still your only real enemy.

Trackmania Sunrise came next, and it too, featured three (brand new) cars, each with their own handling characteristics and environments. Very much a basic sequel by the numbers, but Nadeo really took it up a notch with the number of tracks, and a brand new Platform mode, somewhat similar to the Scramble Mode in Rollcage Stage II. You have a start and finish, a number of checkpoints in-between, and the goal is to get to the end point with as little resets as possible, on increasingly difficult tracks.

With the growing popularity of their games, and a budding eSports scene, Nadeo released a new game with a new car/environment based loosely on F1 styling. They were ultra fast, had incredible handling, and looked the part. The new game would be free too play, and featured car skins for each country. The result was a massive following and a huge community of racers, mappers, youtube creators and later on streamers. There is also a thriving eSports scene that still carries on to this day.

Trackmania Nations earned Nadeo the credibility and recognition that caught the attention of Ubisoft. They were eventually purchased, along with the rights to the Trackmania series.

In Trackmania Nations, user made tracks are created with the built in track editor, and pieces of the track are placed on a sort of grid pattern. Track size is limited to a 32x32x32 area within the stadium of Trackmania Nations for a very long time, which would essentially allow for total count of 32,768 blocks at most when making tracks. That seems like a lot, but when you’re designing a track and want to do something in long stretch, 32 blocks can feel very limiting. That didn’t stop people from making crazy creations, however.

These limitations didn’t last forever. At some point, some very clever modders figured out a way to increase this limitation to a whopping 256x256x256, which allows for 16,777,216 blocks! As you can imagine, this can quite easily bring many PCs to their knees. Mappers quickly started to create unique ways to utilize this new freedom, mostly resulting in ultra fast tracks designed to test even the best racers, all the while keeping the speed at an absolute maximum. Some went horizontal, some went vertical! The tracks using this mod were aptly named 256³ tracks, and the ones at full speed were aptly named “full speed”. Put them together and you have something very special brewing.

At this point, I would like to direct your attention to an amazing video showcasing the top 12 most popular 256³ tracks.

The thing I love about the Trackmania games is that they are difficult, but dead easy to start playing. What I mean is; anyone can play and race, and they will have fun immediately. The skill ceiling however, is unnaturally high. There are no assist mechanics in the game for steering, braking, and subsequently flying. It’s a proper physics engine, and It’s also completely free from any sort of motion blur or FOV changes, so the speed is blazing fast and completely natural.

Are Trackmania games the greatest stunt racing games of all time? I definitely think so. Greatest all around racing games of all time? I’ll stick with a maybe on that one.

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#2

One of my favourite genres!

I touched upon it in an old topic Recommend: additional, different modes outside of the main game

Vanishing Point

A beautiful 60fps racer (more time attack than vs) on Dreamcast with very sensitive controls. I learned to love them. Plays better with MadCatz third-party controller IIRC.

Also on PS1 but I’ve not played that version. I expect it controls tighter?

Stunt Mode was set courses that needed to be driven in set times. Some involved barrel rolls, bursting balloons in time limit, jumping certain distances, etc. Half driving test, half stunts. All gold.

San Francisco Rush 2049

This has a stunt mode, but also an Obstacle Course mode.

Stunt mode is OK, but very difficult, and you need to master that to unlock Obstacle Course - which I have not been able to do so far!

MX vs ATV: Untamed

Really tight off road game I’d never heard of before, until I found out that it had a great stunt “GAP” mode which sees you jumping off buildings, over tractors, doing spins and tricks and all sorts. Some challenges can be a bit cryptic, I’m not down with the MX/ATV lingo, so I had to google them to figure out what to do. Superb though.

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#3

Oh nice, I’ll have to try that mode!

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#4

You’ll have to unlock it somehow! I’ve still not managed to unlock it. Let me know if you do

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#5

Moby Games have a Stunt Racing category, but IMHO it’s missing a whole bunch of games https://www.mobygames.com/game-group/genre-stunt-racing

edit: have just added a handful of games to the MG list (will need to be approved by their admins)

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#6

Personally, my favorite stunt racing game of all time was the MS-DOS game called appropriately Stunts. I think it was also called another name, but I can’t recall it.

In any case, it was so awesome because you could create your own tracks. As a kid, I created so many tracks and stretched the engine to it’s limits. The only downside to the game was the copy protection, which was very annoying. Although I suppose I can’t think of any game that had non-annoying copy protection back in the day!

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#7
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#8

I didn’t ever get the opportunity to play that one, but I do remember it being hugely popular.

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#9

Stunt Car Racer

I used to play this on the Amiga, it definately was tense and stressful but at the same time strangely satisfying.

Vanishing Point

I love this game. Just started playing it again from scratch on the DC. I think many people past over this game due to the super sensitive steering, but once you adapt it’s fine. I love the sense of speed and the excellent music. I actually dislike the stunt mode though !

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#10

Welcome to the site, MrCrynox!

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#11

Thank you !

I was on Neogaf with you guys for a brief while before it fell apart. I’ve been meaning to join RGB since the start but it’s taken me this long to get my ass in gear !
It’s great seeing familiar faces from the upscalers thread all in one place :smile:

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#12

Interesting thread! This is admittedly a genre I haven’t played much of, but I think I’d dig it a lot since any emphasis on messing around with car physics sounds fun to me.

I played the Stuntman game on Xbox 360 (Ignition I think) but I found it pretty disappointing despite it having been developed by Paradigm, who previously developed Pilotwings 64 and some cracking F1 games. It’s somewhat ironic given the name, but because the game makes you assume the role of a movie stuntman you’re hugely limited in what you can do. You’ve got to fit the script of a movie, so it basically becomes a game of simon says where you have to follow a very specific set of instructions to clear each level, giving you little room to improvise.

That partly explains why Trackmania is so appealing I think, the physics are manipulatable enough, and the track design wild enough, that there are loads of ways to approach a stage. Sure, there might be one fastest route through it, but you can ignore the ghosts and leaderboards and still find new ways to approach a level.


GRIPSHIFT

I only found out about this game recently while looking for obscure PSP games I might have missed out on. This game was made specifically for the PSP, and it definitely fits the genre - you’ve got slow-but-manipulatable car physics which encourage you to think ahead, the tracks get whackier and whackier, there’s inclines and loop-de-loops to utilise for shortcut taking.

Each stage has several objectives which can be completed independently from each other, ranging from collecting all stars on the track (think Mario Kart: Super Circuit’s coins), to time trials, to a secret token hidden about the course. That’s where it felt messy to me - it wasn’t as elegant as something like Diddy Kong Racing’s silver coin challenges where you had to collect all the silver coins and win the race.

It seems the game was ported to PS3, and later, XBLA, with online leaderboard support too. But it loses the track editor.

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#13

Oh man, I forgot about Gripshift! A friend that had a PS3 and I spent an entire weekend playing that and finishing it. It’s a fantastic game!

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#14

SSX Tricky and I guess MARIO Kart games? Do those count?

Maybe Wace Race 64 too? I’m not the most familiar with this genre.

SF Rush was also cool on N64 when I rented it way back in the day. I wonder if it holds up.

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#15

Welcome!

How can you not like Vanishing Point Stunt Mode!?

I didn’t like GripShift, it just felt to unfocussed and unrefined for me. I gave it two attempts on PSP at different points. Plus, the look and sound of that game really made it difficult.

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#16

Mission Mode on DS maybe?

At least on DC, it does.

I’d have look into what modes Wave Race 64 had in it. Not sure standard racing is stunt enough?

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#17

Thanks.
Obsessing over trying to get 100% on all did me in after a while! Just enjoyed the racing more, however as I’m playing it again I will refresh my opinion of it, perhaps now I’m old I will be less hard on myself in regards to score :smile:

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#18

Does Excite Truck count with its deformable landscapes, tree runs and huge jumps?

And if so then Downhill Domination on PS2 for more of the same up to 4-player. Crazy good.

Both a rush of pure adrenalin.

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#19

How about a new version of that for the BBC Model B?

Play:
https://bitshifters.github.io/jsbeeb/?disc=https://bitshifters.github.io/content/bs-scr-beeb.ssd&autoboot&model=Master

Video:

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#20

Wow, looks like they pulled of an impressive frame rate with that port! Should be very difficult at that speed haha

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