Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Sometimes I think FlatOut 2 is my favourite racing game and sometimes I think it’s Carmageddon 2. Maybe even Fatal Car Racing or one of the early Colin McRae games. Ohhh, maybe Hard Drivin’ or Rollcage? There are lots of good racing games. Stunt Car Racer is the best though, isn’t it? Yeah.
OK, so we’ve established something in that opening paragraph: I have strange taste in racing games. I’m more interested in crashing and hitting ramps than tweaking my engine’s exfoliation pipe or worrying about the exact tread of my tires.
Stunt Car Racer was the first game I ever played that made me aware of physics. To be clear, I knew what physics were but I didn’t expect to see them simulated in a game, not in any way that would make me feel as if individual elements within the game were interacting in realtime.
From the second Stunt Car Racer drops your crate of a car onto the high-rise track, though, it’s rattling and shaking. It creaks and wheezes as you push it across ramps, around banks and through tortuous twists. The whole game is tough as nails but I didn’t care how many times I failed. I played for the joy of being in that future-wreck, loving every shudder of its doomed frame.