Friday, January 21, 2011

Stunts/4D Sports Driving

John Marine | 1/21/2011 01:32:00 AM |
One lap, one opponent, one chance, multiple obstacles, and fast cars- can you beat the course? Stunts game was published in 1990 for PC by Brøderbund (USA) and Mindscape (Europe) and developed by Distinctive Software Incorporated. The Canadian developer would later become Electronic Arts Canada. DSI was made a handful of games including the classic Stunts. It has also been ported for a handful of other systems, such as Amiga, Tandy, and more. Some of the world's fastest cars and race cars at the time of this game were included for you to race. The goal of Stunts is to take on a course with any number of obstacles and reach the finish line. Players can even create their own one-lap thrill ride using the game's Track Editor. Replay value, as you would imagine, would be very high since you could create your own track. This blog post is all about this classic racing game.

NOTE: Though this game is also called "4D Sports Driving," I will exclusively refer to this game as "Stunts."

--- Stunts/4D Sports Driving at a Glance ---
Stunts screen
^ from: YouTube - Stunts splash screen.

Stunts was in no way trying to become the most realistic racing game on PC. Rather, it was more that one-on-one thrill ride. Stunts challenged gamers to choose from over 11 different cars and compete on any number of tracks. Not satisfied with the given tracks? You can always make your own! Using the in-game track editor, you could create your own incredible race tracks in the game with a good number of tiles to use. These aren't just simple tracks. Oh, no- there are tracks with loops, jumps, corkscrews, and more!

The look and feel of Stunts is comparable to games like Hard Drivin' and Race Drivin'. Its one-on-one action is comparable to the first two Test Drive games (in fact, this game was developed by Distinctive Software Inc., the same people that brought you "Test Drive" and "Test Drive 2: The Duel"). The biggest factor of Stunts' popularity is in making any number of tracks. The interface is incredibly simple and doesn't take too much to make a fairly decent course. That is why I think this game would perhaps serve as an influence to a future racing game series in the 2000s called TrackMania.

You have both street cars and even a few race cars for which to use in your fantastic voyage of stunt racing. Are you ready for the challenge? You can go solo or challenge one of six different AI racers to a one-on-one race. Each of the six racers have their own strengths and weaknesses. Put them in any of the available cars to give you a more than suitable challenge. Speaking of the cars, the cars are all 3D with functioning brake lights. The 3D graphics may not be impressive, but it was certainly impressive for a 1990 game.

Convinced yet that this is a great racing game? If not, I'll throw in a few more to get you excited. Let's look at the game in its most intricate details.

--- Stunts/4D Sports Driving in Detail ---
Each section will be noted by headings. I will tell you as much as I can about each game.


It's time to take a look at the cars which comprise Stunts. Remember that since this game was released in 1990, these were some of the fastest cars of their day. Some even still fast to this day. Each car in this list appear as they do in order when you select cars. Info on each car is as the info appears in the game, so don't blast me because of inaccurate facts. These CLEARLY are what the game specifies for each car:

Remember that this game was in 1990, so the cars likely don't go for the same amount of cash in this day and age.

Car Drivetrain (Engine Location/Drivetrain) Horsepower (hp) Top Speed (mph) Price (US Dollars)
25th Anniversary Lamborghini Countach Mid/RWD 420hp 183 mph $150,000
Ferrari GTO Mid/RWD 394hp 190 mph $74,000
Jaguar XJR9 Rear/RWD 520hp 215 mph $325,000
Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V Front/4WD 200hp 137 mph $40,700
Lamborghini LM-002 Front/4WD 444hp 126 mph $120,000
Porsche 962 IMSA Rear/RWD 500hp 215 mph $275,000
Porsche Carrera 4 Rear/RWD 250hp 161 mph $69,500
Porsche March Indy Rear/RWD 720hp 230 mph $420,000
Corvette ZR1 Front/RWD 375hp 172 mph $58,000
Acura NSX Mid/RWD 270hp 165 mph $60,000
Audi Quattro Sport Front/4WD 220hp 145 mph $60,000

Here are things to take note of:

* Here are some stats on cars in this game:
Characteristic Least Most
DISPLACEMENT Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V (1995cc) Corvette ZR1 (5727cc)
HORSEPOWER Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V (200hp) Porsche March Indy (720hp)
ACCELERATION (0-60 mph) Lamborghini LM-002 (7.7 sec) Porsche March Indy (2.3 sec)
TOP SPEED Lamborghini LM-002 (126 mph) Porsche March Indy (230 mph)
PRICE Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V ($40,700) Porsche March Indy ($420,000)

* Do not use slow cars on high-speed tracks or tracks. Tracks with loops or a lot of aerial stunts should not be raced on with slow cars. Any of the race cars (Jaguar XJR9, Porsche 962 IMSA, and Porsche March Indy) are perfectly fine for all courses. Then too, good track design always helps. Make sure you create fair race tracks that can actually be finished on.

* Each car can be colored in one of over seven different colors. Cars are all colored a bit differently from one another.

* All cars come in either Automatic or Manual.

That covers the cars. Now, let's focus on the opponents.


You can race against the clock, or against one of these six opponents. The opponents you can choose from will be your opponent on the track. You can give these opponents a car to race with in taking on your car. You can have your opposition race the same car as you, try to get an easy win by putting him/her in a less powerful car than yours, or you can challenge yourself by putting him/her in a much better car than yours. The ages are as of the date of this game:

* Squealin' Bernie Rubber - age 23.
Unless you just don't know how to play this game, beating him should be fairly easy. He is pathetic to race against. Bernie should be your first opponent if you are new to this game.

* Herr Otto Parts - age 52.
Flat roads are his specialty. He is not at all adept in taking on stunt tracks. The majority of his racing experience is in Formula One racing. So basically, he's a newcomer to the stunt racing scene. Because of this, he is very poor in doing aerial stunts.

* Smokin' Joe Stallin - age 29.
He prefers the Acura NSX when racing (he even tells you he wants the NSX to race with). Joe is better suited to twisty tracks rather than high-speed courses. It's funny that if you give him the Acura NSX and you still beat him, he still prefers to be in the NSX to race with... even if you've beaten him in his NSX!

* Cherry Chassis - age 24.
A complete opposite to Smokin' Joe Stallin, Cherry's biggest advantage is in high-speed racing. She perfers high-speed courses rather than any twisty and technical courses.

* Helen Wheels - age 24.
Helen is an all-around great racer with no glaring flaws. Trouble is, she has a tendency to play bumper cars a lot. She may just run into you in an attempt to wreck your car (and hers) if you're not careful. Besides this, she is not an easy racer to go up against.

* Skid Vicious - age 34.
The ultimate opponent is Skid Vicious. He is the most difficult racer to go against. So if you beat him in a race, you've accomplished something in this game. There is no one more imposing and difficult to go up against than Skid Vicious. He will make you pay if you take him lightly. Skid Vicious has no weaknesses at all. Prepare to EARN your victories when facing this guy.


Creating tracks comes in two parts- laying out individual tiles and working with the environment. The tiles you select for each course consist of various roads and obstacles. You begin with one of five pre-designed terrains when creating a new course. What you can create from these courses is up to you. The main thing to remember is that any created track MUST have a complete path all the way around. Otherwise, you will be unable to race it. To check to see if your track is complete, press the "C" key to test out the route(s) around the course. Here is a brief overview of some of the tiles:

--- Terrains ---
* Terrain 1 is dominated by one big hill.
* Terrain 2 is flat with a river and a small lake.
* Terrain 3 features a few hills and a big lake. A small island is within the lake.
* Terrain 4 has small hills scattered across the playing area.
* Terrain 5 has a little of everything- hills, rivers, and lakes.

You don't have to stick with these terrains. In fact, if you hold down the Shift key while pressing F1, you can freely edit the terrain to your liking.

Now a look at the track editing options. The Function key in parentheses is the shortcut button you press to access each page in the game's Track Editor:

* The first page (F1) features all paved roads. These are the most basic roads to race on and are grippy. All basic roads feature a variety of corners. You can create straight roads, sharp corners, banked corners, and various other paved roads with this menu.

* The second page (F2) features all dirt roads. These dirt roads offer less traction than the paved roads. The same kinds of roads that can be created with this menu can all be accessed in this menu.

* The third page (F3) features all icy roads. The icy roads offer the worst traction of all surfaces. It is both tricky and tough to get up to speed and corner properly. If you want to make roads challenging, try using either paved or dirt roads, and then put in some sharp icy corners. As for the icy roads, the same variety of road options entail for the icy roads.

* The first of the specialty roads can be found with the fourth page of data (F4). This menu features tunnels, slaloms, bridges, loops, pipes, and corkscrews. The slalom tiles feature tall concrete blocks that must be negotiated carefully to avoid having your fancy car wrecked. The bridge tiles must be set no further than one tile apart. Use this to properly set up dramatic jumps. If you need to get up to speed quickly, set up some loops. The loops can be conceived more like turbo boots. Just make sure to properly drive through the loop. The tunnels are straightforward- just paste them onto the terrain to go through tunnels. Use the pipes to go through each road
Finally, the corkscrews require that you precisely drive up to the top of them and come out on the other end safely. All of these are paved roads.

* Have a liking for ovals? The fifth menu (F5) features banked turns and straights. Banked roads can make for interesting undulations in the road. You can easily set up ovals by using the banked corners.

* The sixth menu (F6) features various sets of paved roads with some curved sections that have curbs on the far inside. These are great to place when diverting the road with a high-speed section.

* Chicanes and highways can be made with the seventh menu (F7). Chicanes offer a brief left-right or right-left change in direction. Highways divide the road into two. Pick a lane and go into the end of the highway.

* In the eighth menu (F8), elevated roads are offered. You can create bridges, ramps, overpasses, and more using this menu. Only elevated ramps can be used on the slopes. Elevated corners can also be created with this menu of tiles.

* The ninth menu (F9) only feature corkscrews from elevated roads. Each corksrew is a 360° loop going from elevated road to flat road, or flat road to elevated road. You need to be careful here because you can easily wreck your car if you don't navigate these roads correctly. Think of these corners as progressively sharp corners going either downhill or uphill.

* The final menu is the tenth menu (F10), and it just features scenery. Use these to dress up your track. These scenery options include buildings, barns, windmills, boats (must be placed on water, obviously), two different gas stations, trees, cacti, palm trees, and a tennis court.

--- Horizons ---
There are five horizons you can choose from to accentuate the background of your course. There is no advantage or disadvantage to using any of the horizons in this game. Here is a brief description on each:

* Desert - situate your track in a desert setting with plateaus in the background.
* Tropical - a horizon with a serene tropical setting.
* Alpine - a mountainous setting
* City - an urban locale with many hills and towers. It is reminiscent of Monte Carlo.
* Country - rolling hills and grassy plains, it's just an easy-flowing horizon.

That's all you need to know about the inner parts of the game.


Each race is a one-lap run. You pick what track you want to race and what opponent (even if it's against the clock) you want to go up against. The racing is all straightforward. Here are the criteria for winning and losing:

--- Winning Criteria ---
* Complete the course.
* Complete the course, even if your opponent crashes out.

--- Losing Criteria ---
* Fail to complete the course.
* Fail to beat your opponent on the course.
* Both you and your opponent crash out, whether separately or crashing into each other.

--- Special Considerations ---
* If you intentionally cut the course, time penalties will be levied against you. So don't try it.

After each race, you can see if your time is among the fastest posted for that course. If so, you can type in your name to put your time among the best times for each course. You can even input your name among the fastest times even if you lose the race but still manage to finish. If you lost the race but still finished, your time will be noted in parentheses. The evaluation at the end of each race indicates the number of jumps you've made, your average speed, your top speed, and in the event of a crash... your impact speed. Your time and the opponent's time will also be listed.

You can also view a replay of the race you run and even save your replay for future viewing. These are four viewing angles to choose from by pressing any of the Function Keys ranging from F1 to F4. These same viewing angles can also be used during the race. F1 is your in-car view, F2 is a helicopter view, F3 is a chase cam, and F4 is a TV-style replay.

So go race hard!

--- Why You Should Care About This Game ---
I think Stunts is a game that somewhat influenced today's TrackMania games. I immediately think of Stunts having played this on my very first computer (all of its 8 MB of RAM with a 75 MHz processor). I think people who love the TrackMania games should play this game to understand just how similar TrackMania games are to Stunts. I am not knocking the TrackMania games, but TrackMania and its track-making reminds me a great deal of Stunts.

--- Stunts Preview ---
Here is your video look at Stunts. THIS is the game I've blogged about all post long. You now get to see its details for yourself:

There is your video insight. It may not be an exciting track that was used, but you can CERTAINLY make your own incredible experiences in this game.

A Dutch group or developer created a game called Ultimate Stunts. Ultimate Stunts is a fan-made freeware game that pays homage to the old Stunts game while also offering 21st Century touches. It is a multi-platform title with an assortment of cars and tracks. To learn more about Ultimate Stunts, visit Ultimate Stunts' website.

By the way... if you do manage to buy or find Stunts, you will need to keep in mind that this is a DOS game. I recommend you use DOSBox to play DOS games on your PC if you use any Windows operating system XP or above.

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