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RC Stunt Copter is a revolutionary new simulation from Shiny Entertainment, the creators of Earthworm Jim and MDK. Unlike any other game or genre to date, it introduces the player to radio controlled helicopter flying. This is a game of skill, speed, artistic ability in stunt performance, strategy... and the most severe test of temperament.
Sound and Vision:
Over a year ago we received a selection of screenshots to preview this helicopter flight sim and they certainly caught hold of our attention. Even though we witness thousands of potential Playstation projects each year this was obviously going to be a game that would stand out from the crowd and this title remained firmly planted in our minds. RC Stuntcopter... radio controlled chopper... even sounds catchy.
As weeks turned into months I assumed that time spent on tweaking and fine tuning would make the long wait worthwhile. Suddenly, when least expecting it, the review copy was dropped onto my desk and the butterflies began fluttering. In with the disk... on with the show.
Graphically RC Stuntcopter bares many similarities to a peach. Succulent polygon scenery, scrumptious craft design, delectable smoke effects, juicy resolution, tasty coloring... however, comparisons don't end there. Like the delicious fruit, after a few nibbles it's all gone leaving you with an ugly stone that's neither use nor ornament. The levels are tiny. To get some idea just how small imagine flying a remote control helicopter in an average sized front room. No sooner does the craft leave the landing pad when the instructor cries out that it hasreached the end of the scenery and must return to base. Crazy!
There are four camera modes used in RC Stuntcopter. The recommended chase view is similar to that used in a driving game, where the helicopter is always seen from close behind. There is a 'close up' view, which is far too close making the craft difficult to navigate. Also are two standing perspectives, offering the impression that the player remains stationary on the ground with remote in hand flying a radio controlled model. Unfortunately, these are totally useless when the helicopter disappears from sight behind an obstacle.
RC Stuntcopter may sound like a rap artist but the game's music and sound effects were actually created by the Tommy Tallarico Studios. He is one of the most famous musicians in the games industry and is also the presenter of the Canadian TV show "The Electric Playground". Now I've never seen his show, but the music in RC Stuntcopter is a slapstick, banjo and brass rendition normally associated with cartoons such as Wacky Races. In short it ruins the concentration and saps the mind.
Worse still is the instructor who constantly remarks on your progress. He is 'supposed' to comment on your flying in humorous, flattering or sarcastic ways, depending on your performance. In fact he is rude, unfunny and damn right insulting... especially when disastrous mishaps are the fault of a badly designed game. What a patronizing git! If I were a man of violence I would seek out this annoying prat, strap him down to a chair, tie a set of headphones over his ears and subject him to a non-stop cocktail of party political broadcasts, Aga-do-do-do, Chas and Dave's Greatest Hits, The Osmonds... and any other aural tortures I could lay my hands on. ARRGGGHHH!
Here is a riddle for you all. When is a game, not a game?
When it's also a software toy and a training tool.
Shiny Entertainment must be commended for trying something completely different with RC Stuntcopter as they attempt to recreate the weekend interest of model flying.
The main advantages with the Playstation version over the actual hobby is that:
a) you can trash the craft as many times as you like without retribution (or multiple tubes of superglue), and...
b) continuous play won't require endless investment in new batteries for the remote control.
It may, however, lead to permanent damage to your health through high blood pressure and unbearable stress.
First point worth mentioning is that RC Stuntcopter has been developed specifically for use with the analog control pad. I suppose that's fair enough because the two sticks should offer full 360° maneuverability.
Training mode is essential... I mean ESSENTIAL. By attempting the ten lesson course the second stage of the game may just be breached... without it you won't last five minutes. First up is the Throttle lesson. Mr Obnoxious (the flying instructor) explains how to move the copter up and down by solely using the left stick on the pad. Try to match the height of the example helicopter and hold for a few seconds. Unfortunately by moving the stick up the slightest fraction the craft will rapidly launch itself high in the air. Release the stick and it plunges straight back down to earth with an almighty bump. The idea is to wiggle the left stick up and down to a rhythm that matches the height. If lucky you will fumble through the six different altitudes before moving onto the next lesson.
So this continues through ten endurances in rudder control, banking, shooting and throttle. Unfortunately attaining a Gold Star status in each test is gained purely by accident (or cheating) and left me without any feeling of achievement. What makes matters worse is that for most of the exercises Auto Level is switched on to keep the craft from banking too far... just wait and see what happens in the real game when this helpful aid is turned off. What I found most ridiculous was that after all the tasks have been passed a bonus lesson offers the chance to crash dive the helicopter onto a target... as if any more crashing practice was needed!
If still interested, Free Flight mode involves flying around five environments in a choice of five helicopters. The single player game pits the avid pilot against a series of obstacle courses testing speed, skill and patience. These tasks include hovering over a marker for several seconds, shuttle racing between football posts, target shooting etc. In total there are thirty tiny obstacle courses that gradually become more frustrating than challenging.
The two player game includes an accurate marking system. Complex mathematics calculate who is truly the champion, even if it appears the same things were done. Points are scored based on how close the helicopter was to the centre of the ring and how fast it flew through, and extra points could be earned by, say, flying through backwards.
I really persevered with RC Stuntcopter because I so wanted it to work. With larger playing levels and a control system that actually works then maybe a sequel could be salvaged. Sadly my tether snapped and my best achievement in flying was gained by winging the game disc into the trash can from over five metres.
This is a single disk game for 1 -2 Players. It is compatible with the dual shock (analog) joypad only. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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