Back around the early 90’s or so, 3D gaming was still somewhat young and uncommon. Although that was starting to not become the case with arcades and perhaps PCs at the time, it was very rare to see a 3D game come out on a home console, and the Super NES is really no exception. In 1994, after the success of StarFox, Argonaut Games helped Nintendo to create another new game with the Super FX chip and that was Stunt Race FX. However, whereas StarFox became a popular second-tier Nintendo series alongside Kirby and others, Stunt Race FX faded into obscurity.
Stunt Race FX, as the title implies, is your bog standard racing game. You first pick from 1 of 4 modes, Speed Trax, Stunt Trax, Test Run/Free Trax or Battle Trax. Speed Trax is pretty much the grand prix mode of this game while Stunt Trax has you going through 1 of 4 obstacle courses where you collect stars and reach the goal before time runs out while avoiding obstacles. In Test Run mode, you play as a 4WD in a sample track. Test Run mode becomes Free Trax once you clear a class in Speed Trax. Free Trax is pretty much like your typical time trial mode in any other racing game. Last, but not least, Battle Trax is your typical vs. mode. Then, you pick from one of 3 vehicles, a 4WD (which looks like a small monster truck), Coupe, or an F-Type (looks like a small F1 racecar). There’s also a 4th vehicle that you can unlock by fulfilling certain conditions, but I won’t spoil that.
While there are powerups in the game, they aren’t as important as in Super Mario Kart. The only powerups that you’ll come across are red orbs and blue orbs (both of them look like triangles surrounded by a few circles moving around.) The red orbs replenish your vehicle’s health gauge while the blue orbs replenish the boost gauge.
As I’ve said earlier, Speed Trax is basically your typical Grand Prix mode. There are 3 classes in this game, Novice class, Expert Class, and Master Class. Like in Super Mario Kart each class has 4 different tracks. But unlike Super Mario Kart there is 1 different bonus track as well. The regular tracks basically have you race to the finish either before your opponents do or before the time runs out, that’s it. The bonus tracks have you play as a truck and you have to run as many laps as you can while knocking down flags. For every flag you knock down, 2 seconds will be added to the timer for the next track while finishing a lap gets you an extra life. You can’t play as the truck in any other modes. Speaking of “lives”, you start off with a few and you lose one when you place 4th (which is last place) at the end of a race, your vehicle takes too much damage and blows up, you ran out of time before finishing a race, your vehicle falls off a track, or you retire from the race.
Stunt Trax works a bit differently than Speed Trax. There are 4 tracks in this mode and a fifth unlockable one. In each one of them, you must collect as many stars as possible while finishing the track before time runs out. Each track has 4 interconnected areas and each of these areas has 10 stars to collect. Each track also has checkpoints and once you cross through one, you cannot come back through it. Collecting stars adds time to the clock, so collect as many as possible. Thankfully, there are no other racers that you have to deal with.
The controls in this game are simple enough. The control pad steers your car and allows you to tilt it while it’s in the air. The B button accelerates your car. The A button brakes and reverses your car if you hold it. The Y button boosts the car as long as you hold it and the boost gauge isn’t empty. The X button honks the horn and makes your car jump. The L and R buttons turns your wheels depending on where the button is (L button turns them to the left while the R button turns them to the right.) Last, but not least, the select button changes your viewpoint. What viewpoints you can change into depends on what mode you’re playing. The only problem with these controls is that the steering doesn’t feel too responsive and feels somewhat clunky.
The graphics is where the biggest problem of the game lies. Although there are a good variety of tracks to pick from and therefore a good variety of scenery, the game feels VERY laggy. I understand that 60 FPS ultra-realistic graphics aren’t an option for Super NES racers, but you have a problem when the lag severely affects the flow of gameplay. Back in 1994, this might not have been apparent, but today, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Even then, the graphics are not without other positives. The cars themselves have a bit of a personality thanks to their little eyes that will move about throughout the race.
The music in this game is pretty good. The soundtrack has an overall relaxing, light-hearted feel to it. A few of the musical pieces have a tense feel, but nothing too serious. Some of my favorites include the title theme (you gotta love that country rock), the music that plays in Easy Ride and King’s Forest (more country music), as well as the music that plays in Aqua Tunnel (has a Super Mario Kart feel to it). The highlight of the soundtrack though would have to be the music that plays in the city tracks (Night Owl, Night Cruise, and Harbor City). Also, there’s a cool tune that plays when you pause the game. I’ll post some links of the music down below.
Overall, the game is … average. Although the graphics have personality and variety in them and the music rocks, the game’s rough steering controls and laggy framerate really bring down the experience. It’s too bad, since everything else about this game was pretty good. If you can tolerate the flaws though, the game is actually pretty fun and one of the better Super NES racers. You can get it on Amazon for under $10.
3 out of 5 stars.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aDlUt1BP1Q – Title and Main Menu theme
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZB6IHxJWp4 – Easy Ride theme
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh5eMEoqAuM – Aqua Tunnel theme
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5hMjhaPu84 – Night Owl theme
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