R.C. Stunt Copter
The aerial obstacle courses will challenge your radio-control techniques.
By The Whizz
That buzzing sound in your brain could just be Shiny Entertainment pushing the video game envelope again. This time it's with Stunt R.C. Copter for the PlayStation.
Flying by Wire
Stunt R.C. Copter (formerly called "Fly by Wire") seeks to simulate the flight and handling characteristics of a radio-controlled helicopter, right down to precise physics, such as the effect of terrain topography on the rotor lift during forward flight. Video game vets will recall the great R.C. Pro-Am series, but Stunt R.C. Copter seeks the next level.
David Perry, head honcho and visionary for Shiny, calls Copter the first video game toy. "Instead of being forced to wade through endless intro screens and menus," he explains, "within a few seconds, you'll be flying...instantly! And like a toy, you can pick it up any time and play for just a few minutes or a few hours."
But as anyone who's logged R.C. flight time knows, it ain't easy. Copter's designed to use the Sony Dual Analog controller, which actually resembles an R.C. controller. Came programmer Robert Suh confesses that the controller algorithms were the hardest part of the game to create. "Dave gave me a book of math equations for flight models that weighed a ton," Suh recalls. "It took me a long time to wade through that thing, but the result is that this helicopter flies exactly the same as a real one."
Fun with Fireworks
Stunt Copter is not just a dry simulation. You'll pull flips, bank turns, and tricky hovering techniques as you guide your chopper through canyon racing, assault courses, and deathmatch free-for-alls. Although the exact number of stunt copters hasn't been determined yet, there will be a variety of craft that vary in styling and speed. Shiny has revealed one bonus chopper: A Blue Thunder replica, complete with functional missiles and mini-guns.
Stunts and Moves
Stunt R.C. Copter is actually flying point for a series of radio-controlled CD toys, including Stunt R.C.s for a car and a boat. At press time, Shiny announced that publishers vying for Stunt R.C. included Interplay, Playmates, and another "huge publisher." Certainly, a Stunt R.C./Analog Controller bundle with Sony would be a natural.
"David told me he wanted Stunt R.C. to feel so real you could learn to fly a real R.C. helicopter by playing with it," says Suh. Pulling that off would be some stunt, indeed!
Download R.C. Stunt Copter
You'll need a three-word mantra to get through this game: "Don't give up." And you'll probably holler a lot of other words, too--none of which I can't print here--because R/C Stunt Copter is about as tough and frustrating as games get. But it's designed that way. Real RC helicopters aren't easy little beasts to tame; flying one requires roughly the same hand-eye savvy as chewing gum while juggling while riding a bike. Backward. And although the game's training stages give you the baby steps needed to whoosh competently airborne, you'll still crash your little bird a lot in the 25 obstacle-course levels. These stages, which pack way more to do than PilotWings, will strain any would-be RC pilot's skills. You'll slalom through columns, hover over checkpoints, land on moving targets, shoot black helicopters, etc. Master the trainer chopper and you can move on to four other, more advanced machines, including one capable of inverted flight. Yes, it'll take a while to master the dual analog control (the Dual Shock mimics the controls of a real-life RC whirlybird), but flight will feel natural after a week or so of practice. Then unleash your chopper into the low-gravity free-flight courses for some major stunt-crazy high jinks. So, despite the frustration, R/C Stunt Copter is still a fun, funny game crammed with personality.
Don't be fooled by its goofy exterior and cartoon graphics--RC Stunt Copter is quite a monster from a control standpoint. But don't worry, it's just as enjoyable as it is technical. That is. once you tackle the controls of RC SC, which happens about a week and a half into the experience. That's when things get extra fun. It has a variety of mission types to play through, several trickster copters to fly and cows to crash into. It's a solid package.
I can completely relate to Crispin's frustration with this game. The difficulty curve on mastering the controls of these nimble copters is deathly steep...so much so that R/C Stunt Copter is better suited for very hardcore and patient gamers, helicopter pilots, RC copter hobbyists and/or extreme masochists. The level designs are great, and there is a lot to see and do here. Just be prepared to spend many a frustrated hour practicing flying.
I like RC Stunt Copter because it's an unapologetic simulation of a hardcore hobby. It's hard because flying remote-controlled helicopters is incredibly tricky. Appropriate for a game whose motto is, "You will never ever beat this game." However, after watching Crispin's anguished attempts to beat the game, I'm not so sure RC Stunt Copter is right for the casual gamer. Gotta give props to Shiny for not dummying down the physics for bozos like you and I.
How's this for a big boast: Shiny claims the controls for its RC Stunt Copter-published by Midway--are so accurate that if you play the game long enough, you'll be able to fly a real-world RC helicopter. We didn't play the game nearly that long at E3 to test this theory, but we can say the controls take a bit getting used to. Just like a real helicopter, the RC aircraft in the game uses one stick to control flight direction and another to control altitude. Hence, RC Stunt Copter works ideally with the Dual Shock analog controller.
Gameplay is reminiscent of Pilot Wings. You fly a variety of RC helicopters through courses filled with obstacles, such as balloons, and objects to collect. Varying weather makes flight a bit more challenging, as well. Newbies to the game can progress through its Training Mode--probably a good idea, since the physics are so true-to-life. Although the version we saw at E3 didn't look all that spectacular in terms of graphics, this game wilt no doubt appeal to flight-sim fanatics--and anyone else whose parents never bought them a $1,000 RC chopper.
- MANUFACTURER - Midway
- THEME - Simulation
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2