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Overview

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Stunt Race FX (released as "Wild Trax" in Japan) is a 3D racing game developed by Nintendo EAD and released for SNES in 1994. It was developed in collaboration with Argonaut Games, the studio responsible for Nintendo's Super FX chip technology that handles polygonal 3D graphics processing for certain SNES games. Players select among a handful of anthropomorphic vehicles, each with its own unique body style and attributes, before racing against either AI or human competitors in one of several game modes.

Similar to Argonaut's previous title Star Fox, Stunt Race FX's use of simple flat shaded polygons to depict objects in three dimensions is extremely rudimentary by modern standards. Stunt Race FX features slightly more detailed environments than Star Fox, but the developers compensated for the increased processing load by lowering the game's frame rate and shrinking the amount of overall screen space devoted to displaying 3D graphics. As a result, only about sixty percent of the game's total screen resolution is used for polygonal rendering.

Gameplay

The game's basic controls are similar to other SNES racing titles, particularly Nintendo's own F-Zero. The SNES controller's A button is a brake/reverse gear, the B button is the accelerator and the directional pad moves the car left or right; additionally, the L and R shoulder buttons allow for tighter cornering (also known as drifting) than by simply pressing left or right on the D-pad. Pressing Y activates speed boost, a limited resource which is replenished by collecting blue gem power-ups scattered around the track. The X button causes the vehicle's body to raise up from its wheels and into the air for a moment, effectively giving vehicles the capability to perform small jumps or drive over competitors. Vehicles can also sustain damage, which can be repaired by picking up red gems.

Most of the game's racing tracks incorporate significant changes in elevation, presumably to emphasize the 3D capabilities of the Super FX chip over Mode 7-based racing games with completely flat tracks.

Speed Trax

The bulk of Stunt Race FX's gameplay is devoted to Grand Prix-style racing series called "Speed Trax". Each race in Speed Trax consists of three laps over a single circuit track. There are three Speed Trax Grand Prix series called "Classes", each of which contains four circuit tracks. However, players must first complete the Expert Class Grand Prix in order to unlock Master Class tracks.

4WD inside Aqua Tunnel
4WD inside Aqua Tunnel

Players are also given a stock of lives to complete a single Grand Prix. If the player exhausts their total reserve of lives, the game ends and the Grand Prix must be restarted from the first race. Players can lose a life by falling off the track, sustaining excessive damage to their vehicle, placing last at the end of a race or allowing the Grand Prix countdown timer displayed in the upper-right corner to reach zero. Additional race time is earned by reaching a track's mid-checkpoint and by completing a full lap. Any extra seconds left on the countdown timer at the end of a race are carried over to the next race in the Grand Prix. Once all four tracks in a Grand Prix have been cleared, the player's final ranking and top three best overall times are displayed.

After completing the second race in a Speed Trax Grand Prix, a bonus stage occurs in which players drive the large "Trailer" semi truck (viewed from a pulled-back camera angle) through a special course until the course timer reaches zero. Each gate knocked over on the bonus course adds two extra seconds to the player's total remaining Grand Prix time, and each completed lap earns the player an extra life.

All twelve courses in Speed Trax can be unlocked for play in Free Trax, the game's time trial mode, once their respective Grand Prix have been cleared. Completing the Master Class Grand Prix also unlocks the 2WD, a narrow vehicle resembling a sports bike, for use in Speed Trax.

Novice Class

  • Easy Ride - A relatively-flat track laid out on a grassy plain with a hairpin turn near the mid-point.
  • Aqua Tunnel - A half-pipe near the beginning of this oceanside course leads into an underwater glass tunnel, where schools of fish and sunken ships can be easily spotted.
  • Sunset Valley - Steep rock cliffs and falling boulders are the main hazards on this straight-but-bumpy track.
  • Night Owl - Several tight turns combined with narrower roads crank up the difficulty in this nighttime metropolitan course.

Expert Class

  • King's Forest
  • Sea Breeze
  • White Land
  • Night Cruise

Master Class

  • Lake Side
  • Big Ravine
  • Sky Ramp
  • Harbor City

Stunt Trax

Ice Dance, Stunt Trax's third course
Ice Dance, Stunt Trax's third course

The "Stunt" portion of the game's title manifests itself in a series of stunt-based races that have the player collecting stars while navigating over, under, and around various bizarre obstacles. Each of the four stunt tracks are divided up into sections that will only open after obtaining all of the stars. Some of them require very careful driving, as they're located at the apex of certain jumps or ramps set high up in each level. Due to its stability and ability to drive through water (and there is a lot in the stunt races), the monster truck is the best bet by far, even taking into account its slow speed.

  • Rock Hill
  • Up 'N' Down
  • Ice Dance
  • Blue Lake
  • Radio Control Tower

The final, fifth stunt track is unlocked by beating all the others. It pits the player against the other cars in a fixed isometric viewpoint much like an RC racer, and challenges the player to smash into each vehicle (blowing it to pieces) in the shortest amount of time.

Battle Trax

There is a two-player mode in Stunt Race FX, but it's limited compared to the single player - the already small view shrinks further, and the players are limited to four tracks that have much less detail.

  • Cotton Farm
  • Marine Pipe
  • Toxic Desert
  • Port Arena

Vehicles

Stunt Race FX features five vehicles, although the Trailer is only available during the Speed Trax bonus game.

  • 4WD - A blue monster truck with huge tires. The 4WD can drive through shallow water as if it were dry pavement but suffers from a low top speed. An excellent vehicle for beginners, it accelerates quickly and can take a beating; two traits that also make the 4WD well-suited for Stunt Trax.
  • Coupé - A yellow compact car. The Coupé demonstrates moderate performance in all areas, but its small tires cause a severe decrease in speed while driving through water.
  • F-Type - A red-and-white Formula 1-style racing vehicle. While slow to accelerate and quite fragile, the sleek F-Type (along with the 2WD) boasts the highest top speed of all vehicles. Medium-sized tires allow the car to retain some of its impressive speed on wet pavement.
  • 2WD - A two-wheeled vehicle resembling a sports bike. The 2WD is unlocked for use in Speed Trax by completing the Master Class Grand Prix. More durable than the F-Type, the 2WD also features better acceleration, and its over-sized tires aren't slowed down on wet roads. However, this vehicle's unusual handling characteristics can be difficult to master.
  • Trailer - A large semi truck with an attached trailer that is used only during Speed Trax bonus stages. Although it can't be damaged, the Trailer is by far the slowest and least maneuverable of the game's vehicles.
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