You can keep your CGI mippy-maps and digitally inserted explosions. In my mind, what the best movie stunts need is non-negotiable: An actual dude, in an actual car, making actual jumps (possibly with an actual dude hanging from the rear axle with an actual whip). I suppose then it's a little contradictory that I turn to computer gaming to recreate this real-life experience, but Stunt Crazy, the new physics driving game by The Podge definitely has the right spirit... and a ton of stuff that goes boom. Can't forget that.
In each of 24 maps, you are presented with a stunt to complete for a certain genre movie, and a certain map in which to complete it. Generally, you use the [arrow] keys or [WASD] keys to control your ramp-jumping vehicle, crashing into buildings, collecting bonuses, exploding barrels, and generally being awesome. You collect red, yellow, and blue movie reels to complete your stunt objectives, and by doing so gain cash, fame, and points, based on the ultimate box-office take. These can then be used to add new upgrades for your vehicle, unlock new levels, or design a customizable stunt-show for extra money. [Z] fires missiles to destroy building, holding [X] fires up a stunt-rocket that can blast you around the arena, and [C] launches a crash bomb for quick direction changes. And... ACTION!
Analysis: Stunt Crazy ultimately feels like a fusion of the Hedgehog Launch and Indestructotank series, and is a lot of fun for being so. However, almost paradoxically, the combination is nowhere near as immediately accessible as said predecessors. This is a game with a steep learning curve when it comes to the controls and mechanics, and only really gets enjoyable when you manage to get the hang of it. What kept me persevering is Stunt Crazy's light-hearted tone. The spoofy film names, dead-pan stunt descriptions and snarky newspaper headlines did a lot to make me want to keep going and see where my stuntman's career would take him. A sense of humor cannot make a bad game good, but it will make the player give it the benefit of the doubt. In the end, I stuck out the initial awkwardness (which, after all, might just be on this side of the screen), and I'm glad I did. Stunt Crazy is solid and only gets more over-the-top and explodier as the levels progress from sci-fi, to horror, to western, to fantasy. Ever wanted to do backflips all over a frontier town in a Conestoga wagon? Now's your chance.
I think that Stunt Crazy suffers a bit from the problem not uncommon to many upgrade-based games. Most games have the natural progression of being easy at first, then more challenging as time goes on. Here the evolution is flipped: the game is difficult without any upgrades, and only becomes easier and easier as you buy them. Certainly skill has something to do with it, and Stunt Crazy's does balances itself with levels that get ever more complex as time goes on. Still, I hate the feeling of not wanting to start up a game on a certain computer, solely because the version of game I like, the game for which I've upgraded the mechanics, is saved on another one. Does that makes any sense?
Anyways, despite the balance issues, and car tires that fly off if you so much as look at them the wrong way, Stunt Crazy is a lot of fun. It has a sleek art style, some cool arcade-rock-sounding tunes in the background, and the various multiplayer and sandbox creation modes are quite cool. I really felt accomplished when I was able to snag a tricky low-hanging reel, or was given a fictional stunt award. This game may drive you crazy like nothing else, but once you get into it, you just can't help yourself.