Whenever we preview an iPhone racer with an element of the acrobatic, a number of readers always comment, hoping upon hope that it's the iPhone's answer to Geoff Crammond's seminal 1989 release, Stunt Car Racer. And, although such a game may be an excellent example of iPhone racing, their hopes are always just a bit dashed. Beleaguered retro stunt racing fans, say hello to RacerCoaster [App Store] Heiko Irrgang's stab at delivering Stunt Car Racer to the iPhone.
So, getting right to the point -- is RacerCoaster iPhone gamers' answer to Stunt Car Racer? Well, sort of. It clearly delivers much of the core feel of Crammond's classic to iPhone gamers, but the initial release, at least, is fairly limited by comparison.
The game is rather basic, putting you in accelerometer-based control of a race car with three different elevated tracks upon which to race to choose from which, unlike those of the typical four-wheel racer, are full of dramatic twists, turns, and jumps. A tap to the bottom-right of the screen accelerates and a tap to the bottom-left brakes. The goal is to cross the finish line as fast as possible (of course) and also to grab as much air as you can on the tracks' various jumps. Adding to the challenge is the extreme sensitivity of your vehicle -- an overzealous nudge will land you on your side. It's a far more sensitive vehicle than that of Stunt Car Racer.
Unfortunately, merely three tracks is rather few. And the best part of Stunt Car Racer -- the gaping sections of missing track that force a jump -- are not represented in RacerCoaster. Hills and twists there are, but no you-must-jump obstacles. Still, RacerCoaster unquestionably delivers a Stunt Car Racer-esque experience on the iPhone. And for that, despite its limitations, it's a notable release. The game's author has spoken out in our forums indicating that, yes, the game was heavily influenced by Stunt Car Racer and has informed us that in several weeks he plans to begin work on adding interactive elements to the game, such as moving bridges and height-modifying jumps. He is also toying with the possibility of adding AI and a league system, similar to that in Stunt Car Racer.
The game offers on-line score tracking tied to the 93-interactive website, but at the time of this write, I was experiencing problems connecting with that system.
See the developer's gameplay video for a look at the action.
At only $.99, RacerCoaster is hard to resist for anyone that spent quality time with Crammond's excellent release. For racer fans in general, it's an interesting departure from the norm, but the sparse track design and retro feel may come across as a lack of polish, and the limited number of levels won't help in the evaluation. I am thankful that the developer has plans to expand the game on a number of fronts and feel that updates in this regard will eliminate any concerns of the game being too basic. We'll be sure to keep readers informed when the updates arrive.
App Store Link: RacerCoaster, $0.99