Tuesday 2 June 2015

Stunt Race FX (SNES review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD, Argonaut Software
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1994

Stunt Race FX is one of only eight officially released games to include the Super FX chip which gave the SNES extra capabilities.

The main attraction is Speed Trax where you race three CPU drivers across a total of 12 courses. You can boost using the Y button and the blue icons around the track will refill your meter slightly. Crashing builds up your damage meter so you'll want to collect red icons to repair your vehicle. The racing is initially disappointing as the action is choppy and the frame-rate is incredibly low. There's a slight delay in pressing a button and the game recognising it meaning you'll over-steer on a frequent basis. However, underneath the technical issues is a fantastic game mode and there's many moments of genuine fun to be had. The courses are well designed including gorgeous beach themes, mountain areas and night-time city drives and they're all enjoyable to race around. There's also some neat touches such as aeroplanes flying overhead and dolphins jumping out of the water! Similar to Virtua Racing (1994, Mega Drive) you can change camera angles on the fly which was a real novelty at the time. Stunt Mode challenges you to collect 40 stars littered around a track within a certain time limit. Unfortunately, the game's weaknesses are clearly apparent here as you're expected to be precise and the dodgy controls and lack of hardware power mean you'll struggle to get your vehicle to do exactly what you want it to do. Battle Trax is a two-player mode but it's not great as it crawls along as the game tries to render the split-screen action. The music is a mixed bag with cheesy, gameshow tunes and classic tracks that wouldn't sound out of place in a Mario platformer.

Stunt Race FX gets off to a terrible start but there's a decent game here that could have been a classic if there was more power to increase the frame-rate. Speed Trax mode is a particular highlight and while it's not as smooth as F-Zero or Super Mario Kart it still has some great gameplay and that undeniable Nintendo charm.

Random trivia: Classic Nintendo characters make cameo appearances on the trackside billboards including Mario and Fox McCloud!

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