Review: Stuntcar Extreme
Version Reviewed: 1.00
Stunt Car Extreme. It’s been out on the Tapwave Zodiac for some time, and an earlier version (Stunt Run) was packaged as a demo game with the P800. It was only time before it made it’s way over to the N-Gage and Series 60, and now Fathammer have finished the port, how does it measure up? With no demo version, and the majority of Series 60 phones having awkward joypads or sticks for controlling your car, buying Stuntcar Extreme is a bit of a risk given that there’s no demo version.
Installation comes in three .SIS files, which must be installed in order. This is a big game. After installing, I recommend you reboot the phone since it uses a lot of RAM and will sometimes will say that it can't find enough and will exit, even after compressing it with a tool like Psiloc's Task Manager. This installation method is a bit daunting, and while it’s needed if you’re installing on the device, some way of using an MMC Card Reader would have been appreciated, given that Fathammer do recommend that you install to an MMC if at all possible.
Onto the game. The first thing I noticed was the funky-baby music! Yeah baby, yeah! I went straight into a Quick Game (who needs user manuals?) and got my back-end soundly beat! But after some practice, I got the hang of things and started to come out on top on the first three available tracks. Since this game is by the same people who wrote Geopod, I thought that those three levels were about it. Geopod is a little small in terms of level diversity - still good though. When I won my first cup in Stuntcar Extreme, I was very pleased to see a whole new Championship, with new tracks, open up.
On the N-Gage, with its D-Pad and arcade controls, Stunt Car Extreme is a delight. Standard Series 60 phones are at a slight disadvantage, though the layout is as good as it can be. The acceleration, deceleration and Nitro-Boost are activated via the keypad and only Left and Right is controlled on the Joypad. Okay it can be a bit cramped, and some of the vehicles are a right royal badger-stroke to control (someone fix the steering column on the Sherman!), the game itself is still surprisingly playable.
That brings me on to the handling of the cars. The nature of the game is such that some cars (or ‘vehicles’ since they’re not all what I’d call ‘cars’) handle better than others, trading acceleration and top speed with handling. The best cars handle fine but, as I implied earlier, the bad ones are terrible and it’s a challenge to get them to stay on the road, let alone finish before everybody else. I reckon that if I was actually in one of these cars, I would throw up by the end of the first lap since they’re more bouncy that bouncy things on springs! Changing the player’s view to see the car will let you see just how springy those suspension systems are! But it’s all a good laugh and far from taking from the game, it adds fun to the whole experience.
The levels all look fantastic. We’re talking 3D polygons here, not bitmapped graphics, which helps the high frame rate as well, but there are times when you're looking for small details to tell you where the road is going (particularly in the snowy level), only to have text smack in the middle of the screen. It’s nice that you’re told what you've done but it always seems to obscure the essential detail for a brief time. Perhaps an option to turn these messages off would be nice.
The music is sweet, and the sound effects are acceptable for a mobile game - those engines sound like they need fresh oil. You’re able to control levels for sound effects and music separately. Mind you, the sound of the car's engine is either off, on really loud or on extremely loud in my experience.
Stuntcar Extreme is a good investment for a racing game, for that is what it is - 'stunting' is only a sub-plot of this game since you are still required to go around the track faster than anybody else. I’d call that 'racing', I imagine you'd be hard pressed to find one as good as this on any Smartphone. It’s a touch pricey at $19.95 compared to other Series 60 games, but the graphics, fluidity and general smart looks of the game more than make up for that premium.
To finish, I'll leave you with comments made by my mates to whom I showed the game;
"Wow! It looks just like my Playstation… Is that a phone!?"
And no, I didn't just make them up.
Reviewed by Rafe Blandford at