Monday, July 6, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Stun Runner

Oh, Atari. You used to make some kickass games. Can I get a shout-out for Stun Runner please? Released to arcades during that wonderful end of the summer of 1989 (yep, we had Burton's first Batman film, Weird Al's UHF, and the last great Indy movie!), Atari the at-the-time "meh" home console company was still releasing extremely impressive hardware into arcades - this just propelled their legacy that much further.

Sit-down arcade racers were hardly new, the Japanese coinops had been doing them in style for ages. Even Atari had sort of revolutionized the whole idea some years earlier with Hard Drivin' - but this game looked like nothing that had come before!

Stun Runner was fast, hectic, powerful - it looked crazy with it's filled-polygon graphics, still quite a rarity in those days (especially amongst high-framerate racers!) On top of the racing aspect, you had weapons to destroy your enemies - the ones that were not invincible, anyway..

I guess at the time, it was the closest you could feel to plugging into a Tron lightcycle, or something to that effect, between the speed and VR style of it. Sure, it didn't have a moving cab like Outrun or anything like that, but with this game the only thing you were ever left wanting for was more quarters so you could keep playing.

The game never saw a proper port, back in the day, which is not too surprising considering the tech. It's older brother Hard Drivin' made the rounds fairly well, but I guess this was just pushing it a but much. Interestingly, there was a conversion produced for the Atari Lynx, the powerful handheld system. It did away with the 3D Polygon business in favor of a sprite-based approach, but to tel you the truth they did a rather marvelous job of capturing the look and feel of the arcade machine. I feel quite ashamed for not having picked it up.

It's since released on Midway Arcade Treasures, check the wikipedia for more info, but I wouldn't expect it to feel the same on a dualshock as it would have back in the day. Still a very nice game, and kind of a mini-landmark in Gaming History (and a memoir of the powerhouse that the Atari name used to connotate!)

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