Game Reviews

Stunt Car Racing: 99 Tracks (iPhone)

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Stunt Car Racing: 99 Tracks (iPhone)

I'm notorious for being a bad back-seat driver. I've had many a car journey as a passenger akin to a rollercoaster ride. I feel every bump, every turn when I'm not at the wheel, the lack of control paralysing me and flooding my stomach with acid.

Of course, in the world of gaming, turning your average four-wheeler into a coaster calamity is an opportunity not to be missed, and Digital Chocolate's Stunt Car Racing really does deliver a gloriously reckless race.

Taking place on 2D tracks full of lumps, bumps, and numerous jumps, the game has you take charge of your car as it sets off from left to right. With acceleration taken care of, your main priorities are braking (on the rare occasions you need to), using boost to build up your speed, and flipping the car to charge up the boost bar.

All of the tracks are designed to test your bravery. The inclination is almost always to push hard, holding down your boost so you fly over the jumps and complete the course in the quickest time possible. Well-placed hazards spoil the party, though.

Every object you hit, whether it's smashed up cars that litter the track or even smacking straight into part of the course itself, damages your ride. You can pick up icons along the way that repair chunks at a time, yet success in many of the tracks relies on you not taking that damage in the first place.

It's the game's weakest point. While all of the tracks are littered with warning signs, actually slamming the breaks on in time, with the pace of play as it is, is often impossible. This basically means you're driving blind and, unless you've tackled the level before, there's a fair chance you'll fly straight to your death.

That said, taking the element of surprise away would kill half the thrill. Most of the golden moments in Stunt Car Racing come directly from taming this uncertain beast. Managing to skate your way over a series of jumps with perfect landing after perfect landing is edge-of-your-seat stuff, delivering the kind of addictive play the original mobile release made its name with.

Indeed, one or two elements in this iPhone version feel a little slack by comparison. When the action really gets going, slowdown seems to play its part, denting the sense of speed.

Also, the virtual buttons feel small at times, and fiddly. If you try and flip your car backwards or forwards for a midair 360 spin a smidgen early, it doesn't seem to register. By the time you realise, the opportunity to pull off said trick is usually long gone.

Stunt Car Racing is a hearty addition to the iPhone's line-up, though arguably not as polished as its mobile cousin. In any case, it still manages to sit comfortably in the rare sweet spot between the brash and the meek, serving as the perfect middle ground for those who rely on luck as much as skill when it comes to driving.

There's still every chance you'll be clenching your teeth from beginning to end, but this is a journey where the finish line usually comes too soon.

Stunt Car Racing: 99 Tracks (iPhone)

Full of all the right lumps and bumps, Stunt Car Racing: 99 Tracks really conveys the thrills and spills of a reckless ride, but could do with being a tad smoother to really get its engine going