Most driving games put you behind the wheel and make you race against other drivers or a ridiculously strict time clock. Stuntman's premise, on the other hand, is reasonably unique--you have to follow the instructions of a movie director and perform a scene full of stunts that will eventually make it into a feature film. The game includes six films, split into 21 unique scenes. Stunts typically involve leaping over ramps, smashing into objects, and driving through flame-filled explosions. All of this adds up to an interesting twist on the standard racing game formula.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/gba/stuntman/0812/0001.jpgSometimes you need to react to dangers that alter the environment, like this falling monument.
Stuntman originally appeared on the PlayStation 2, and it's made the transition to the Game Boy Advance fairly well. The graphics certainly aren't on par with those of the PS2 version, but they're better than the graphics of many of the other racing games on the GBA. Each course is a 3D environment full of roads, buildings, vehicles, and obstacles that are made possible through the use of polygons and texture maps like what you'd find in early PlayStation games such as Rage Racer or Colin McRae Rally. The viewpoint is situated behind the vehicle at all times. There are only isolated instances where objects show through supposedly solid structures, but the amount of warping evident in building textures as you drive by is somewhat obvious. You honestly don't notice it if you're really trying to clear a run, though. In addition to all the visual icons that tell you where each stunt is located, you'll also hear spoken cues from the director. The rest of the audio is mainly the stuff you'd expect to hear when vehicles drive on dirt and pavement.
Stuntman is a breeze to control on the GBA. You can accelerate and brake with the A and B buttons, and you can swerve into a skid with the right trigger button. The left trigger button lets you detonate explosives or activate nitrous boosts in response to commands from the director. Scenes later in the game are more complex than those early on. In many cases, a stunt will set off a chain of explosions that you'll need to pass through at specific intervals--regardless of the time left on the clock or the other stunts you need to clear in the meantime. Repeated trial and error is the only way to figure out which obstacles to miss so you can reach each explosion at the proper moment. A fair amount of the game's challenge comes from constantly repeating each level in order to shave seconds off your time so you don't have to intentionally miss one stunt to reach another. Of course, most scenes have specific solutions, which may disappoint anyone hoping to improvise their own spinouts and shortcuts.
For the most part, the scenes in the GBA version of Stuntman are different than those found in the PS2 game. A few specific stunt sequences are the same--like jumping the chimney in A Whoopin' and A Hollerin'--but that's about it. So, even if you played the PS2 game to death, you have new scenes to master on the GBA, many of which are trickier. Lofty cliff jumps and harsh 90-degree skids are significantly more common on the handheld. Once in a while, a chase sequence pops up to test your ability to clear a course as quickly as possible.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/gba/stuntman/0812/0002.jpgVisible icons, text commands, and audio commands warn you of upcoming stunt sequences.
In addition to the career mode, there's a practice mode that lets you work on any of the scenes you've already unlocked, as well as an arena mode where you can try to complete small stunt sequences or collect the letters that spell "stunt" within a set time limit. Multiple players can compete using link cables to see who can gather the letters the fastest or finish the most stunts. You can use the money earned in the career mode to buy better vehicles for use in the arena. The GBA game doesn't have the stunt creator that the PS2 version had, which is understandable, given the size constraints of GBA storage.
If you're looking for a driving game that places you in the role of a stunt performer in crime and caper movies, then Stuntman should fit the bill nicely. Unlike the PS2 version of the game, the GBA version does not splice your stunts into the footage for each film. This takes away a little from the overall cinematic appeal of the game, but not so much that you can't get plenty of enjoyment from this otherwise solid product.