Stuntman Review

Stuntman is one of the most ambitious mobile-phone games ever--it's probably too ambitious. The game levels are open-ended and very, very long.

Stuntman is really a game in four parts. While the team at IOMO (the developers) has been doing mobile games for years, they cut their teeth on console and GBA development. In some of their earlier games (Quarantine, for one) you could feel their frustration with the gameplay limitations of the mobile phone. IOMO simply wanted to fit more game into the phone. With Stuntman, they offer an interesting solution--spreading one game across four downloads. This approach nicely offers fans dozens of hours of gameplay in phone-sized chunks.

The four Stuntman files (movies, really) are linked by codes, so it's possible to progress through one continuous storyline, or to test several different environments before diving into one. With this four-file approach, Stuntman sets the pace for long, immersive mobile games that require a significant investment of time and effort.

Each of the four Stuntman downloads has six levels (scenes) and three bonus tracks (Speed, Precision, and Stunt). Each scene contains between 10 to 20 objectives in an open-ended environment.

As in the 2002 console version , you have to drive a series of cars around a movie set, following the instructions of the director. And as in the console game, IOMO's Stuntman is hard. As soon as the cameras start to roll, you'll be attempting handbrake turns, smashing through boxes, avoiding reckless drivers and donut-eating cops, jumping over barriers, ramping onto roofs, and dodging all manner of pursuit vehicles.

Prepare for many takes. There are flyovers that guide you through each level, but with scores of maneuvers to hit, any gamer's short-term memory will be tested by this title. I was feeling low when it took me 38 tries to complete the first level (I suck at driving games anyway), but John Chasey , IOMO's CEO, assured me that those stats weren't so bad and that some levels have taken testers upwards of 200 attempts to complete. I guess I'm not hard core enough to consider this a good thing.

The first Stuntman download is called "A Whoopin' and a Hollerin'." In this movie, you are driving for some "southern-fried brothers," jumping over cop cars and off roofs in pursuit of your nemesis, Heinous. He framed you for bootlegging you didn't commit.

Almost instantly, you'll see Stuntman's intricate damage system. Accidents and stunt screwups realistically affect your car's performance. The game also sports an impressive collision system that makes objects bounce and break with surprising realism.

Blood Oath, the second Stuntman game, is set in the shady underworld of Bangkok. In the first scene, the director has you reverse out of an alley, pull a couple handbrake turns, get up on a roof, hit a jump at high speed, and throw a couple of more handbrake turns just to get started. The second scene has you chasing the gang boss, Pu Yai Bahn, and dodging explosions while a helicopter that is chasing you bears down.

The third download is called The Scarab of Lost Souls. The director describes this movie as "A lighthearted all-action adventure," but it's not. Think sphinxes and pyramids. Smash precious urns with high-speed turns. Dodge a tank and evil Christoph's attacking plane. Bridges to islands. Explosions. Through a market. Into a pyramid. There's another Stuntman title (think of the popular film genres and then take one guess at which one it is), but you get the idea. A whole lot of game time for a mobile phone, with some impressive opponents and some difficult tasks.

After all of this, I guess I don't need to mention that Stuntman is one of the most ambitious mobile-phone games ever--it's probably too ambitious. The game levels are open-ended and very, very long. With 15 to 20 directions per scene, they require an exquisite memory, written notes, or both. The graphics are serviceable, but my main beef with the game is the difficulty-- especially at the start; there is too little reward for too much button-mashing. In any game, having to repeat a level 50 times to complete it isn't too much; having to repeat every level 50 times to complete it, is. A gradual ramping up of stunts, challenges, and abilities would add considerably to the enjoyment of this game. Still, if you like driving titles and you love a challenge, Stuntman is definitely worth checking out.

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Stuntman (2003) More Info

  • First Released Jul 17, 2003
    • Mobile
    Stuntman is one of the most ambitious mobile-phone games ever--it's probably too ambitious. The game levels are open-ended and very, very long.
    Developed by:
    Published by:
    iFone Limited
    Arcade, Driving/Racing