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How to Create the "Ultimate Stunt Car Racer"

12th March 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Late last year, Icon Games released their first WiiWare title, Stunt Cars. Fast forward a few months to March 2010, and the same team has announced that they plan to develop a sequel to their first title. Recently, they issued out a press release enlisting the help of the WiiWare community, looking for ideas and suggestions they could implement in their upcoming title. This is exactly why I have taken the liberty to create this article to help the developers have the right mindset as they develop their upcoming project. So, without further ado, let's begin by discussing some of the positives of the original game.

For more information on Stunt Cars, feel free to take a look at our complete review here on Wiiloveit.com.

What Stunt Cars Did Well
1. Lots of Tracks
Although the design wasn't always that great, Stunt Cars did feature an impressive number of tracks! When compared with games like High Voltage Hot Rod Show that really only had 6 different stages, this was a sight for sore eyes. I certainly encourage Icon Games to place a similar amount of attention to the tracks in the sequel.

2. Good Mode Selection
Having a variety of modes is a given in racing games and even in that respect, Stunt Cars didn't disappoint. With single race and Grand Prix modes, along with an option for those who enjoy a good speed run now and then, Stunt Cars was definitely set up rather well. But perhaps they could extend this even more? Further details on this later.

3. Achievements
Games on the Wii that go the extra mile to include an achievements system should get some praise. Obviously, this is something that appeals to a certain type of gamers (after all, the 360 feeds off of this!) and so to see this feature included in Stunt Cars was a nice addition. I'm confident that the developers can manage to have a good number of achievements that are as motivating as they are attainable.

4. Car Selection
Having six cars may not seem like much at first glance, but probably the best part about them is the fact that they all have different stats. Unlike High Voltage Hot Rod Show where the different vehicles were only for show, it mattered which car you chose in Stunt Cars and that's the way it should be in a standard racing game.

5. Control Schemes
As recent racing games such as Mario Kart Wii show, gamers love to customize controls to the way they want. Stunt Cars offered a few control schemes to choose from and that's definitely something that should return in the sequel.

6. Ramps/Jumps
Although the game could've benefited from more stunts in the track designs, there was a good number of ramps and jumps that made gameplay have the kind of vibe that the developers were originally going for. And having dialog on-screen to indicate the amount of air time received for a jump was great as well, even if it didn't really serve a purpose in the actual gameplay.

The following list will outline more direct opportunities that Stunt Cars 2 could touch on. Some of them are suggestions for improvements over a certain element in the original, whereas others are just flat-out ideas that could be implemented in the sequel.

Where Stunt Cars 2 Could Improve
1. Consistent Framerate
The lack of a steady framerate was one of the biggest downfalls of the original. Having gameplay that's really jumpy on more than a few occasions is simply unacceptable in a racing game, as I'm sure anyone would agree. If it means that the game will lose a level or two so that the framerate can be that much more smooth, then so be it. Furthermore, having smoother car animations (e.g., when wheels turn in a given direction) would also be a nice improvement.

2. Motion-Controlled Movement
Many gamers who play on the Wii like to have motion controls in racing games, so long as they don't feel gimmicky. Giving players the ability to control cars using the tilt mechanisms of the Wii Remote will likely generate a good level of appeal in contrast to the D-Pad. As a result, the game would naturally incorporate the Wii Wheel in a much more effective manner than what was seen in the original.

3. Improved Boost Mechanics
The boost mechanics in the original were good, and the special effects were a nice touch as well. But doing good drifts and having a few seconds of air time didn't really affect the Boost gauge at all. If boost power was built up by doing drifts, and performing good aerial jumps, the game would be that much more engaging and the usefulness of the ramps would take on greater meaning.

4. Airborne Tricks
Rather than having cars fly in the air as-is, Icon Games might want to look into adding a feature where players can perform tricks, as well. It certainly would make the game more exciting and, too, performing tricks could also be used to refill your Boost meter. Perhaps the developers might want to look into using motion controls for this, so long as they don't feel tacked on.

5. Better Stunts
More exciting stunts is a must, especially given the name of the game. Using gimmicks such as loop-de-loops, and halfpipes would be great, especially in the early levels for the sake of captivating the average player. To mix things up a bit, perhaps some ramps will only pop up temporarily once a special switch is activated. And of course, in later levels, the stunts can get more extreme (such as flying over a volcano). Either way, the more stunts the better!

6. Better Reset Feature
One of the biggest flaws with the gameplay in the original was the fact that the game would reset your car back to the last checkpoint whenever you fell out of bounds. Unfortunately, because the checkpoints were rather spread out, falling off would more than likely cost you the entire race! I propose that if players venture OB in Stunt Cars 2, the game should reset you back where you fall off the track. This would definitely prevent a lot of frustration that existed in the original.

7. Stronger Music
The MIDI-style music in the original had a slight old-school feel to it but really, it wasn't working as effectively as it could have. Audio can really make a racing game more gripping, so if the developers can incorporate music that's of a more upbeat nature with good backbeats, gameplay would be that much more enjoyable.

8. New Multiplayer Modes
Perhaps a Battle Mode might work well with some power-ups in specifically-designed arenas. If not, there are some other modes that could definitely be implemented rather easily to add more variety to the game. A capture the flag-style mode might prove to be fun, as would Elimination races where the person in last place gets out at the end of each lap until only one remains. It would be good to implement modes like this, as even just having the ability to play these modes by yourself with CPU's would make the game more fun and varied.

9. Track Editor
Would this be a lot of work? Quite possibly, yes. Would it make the game more enjoyable? Heck yeah! Fans of games like Trackmania will especially be drawn by this suggestion and if it gets implemented, the game's potential level of replay value will increase. Even if it were a fairly basic editor (but still allowed for some originality with stunt placements), I definitely think it would put Stunt Cars 2 up there on the list of available racing games.

10. Online Play / WiiConnect24
This might be a bit much to ask especially given the amount of work involved in implementing this sort of feature, but it's always good to bring it up. Online would be a really nice touch for a game like this where skill matters. Not to mention, it would certainly give Stunt Cars 2 more of an edge over other racing titles. If the gameplay is good, implementing Wi-Fi could very well benefit the game in the sales department. If online play is completely out of the question, the developers might want to look into incorporating WiiConnect24. Provided that Nintendo will allow them to utilize this feature, those who purchased Stunt Cars 2 could use WiiConnect24 to exchange content with Wii Friends who have the game. How so? Ghost data from Time Trials could certainly be sent amongst Wii Friends (which would adequately make up for any lack of online races) as could custom track designs (if a track editor is put in place). There's definitely some potential here that Icon Games might want to look into.

It would be unrealistic for anyone to expect Icon Games to implement each and everyone of the aforementioned suggestions. However, if they're able to keep many of them in mind as they design Stunt Cars 2, I'm 100% sure that the sequel will be a much more enjoyable racing game! I certainly hope that the developers can benefit from my modest suggestions. 

For more information on Stunt Cars, feel free to take a look at our complete review here on Wiiloveit.com, or click on over to Icon Games' official website.