S.T.U.N. Runner is a 1989 arcade game by Atari Games that uses 3D polygonal graphics to create a fast-paced tunnel shooter.
The “S.T.U.N.“, by the way, means “Spread Tunnel Underground Network“, which doesn’t mean a great deal in the grand scheme of things…
S.T.U.N. Runner plays a bit like a bobsleigh game (like the one you see in the classic Winter Games, for example), where the idea is to move ‘in tune’ with the tunnel, rather than against it. So, if the tunnel turns right, you go left so that your momentum takes you up the wall and you whizz around like a bullet.
Actually, in S.T.U.N. Runner you really have to drive where the game wants you to, although it has to be said that it is fairly forgiving in the early levels.
From level two onward you have a top-mounted cannon. Not everything in front of you is destructible, however, and some things have to be driven around. You also have a limited number of ‘smart bombs’, called ‘Shockwaves’.
Each level has a goal, like ‘hit as many boost pads as possible’, or similar, and if you beat the level record for that goal you can enter your name on a unique high score table, then continue your game, which is neat.
As you progress through the levels you get new bolt-on upgrades for your vehicle, shown in various animated cut sequences using the in-game engine. In terms of 3D visuals, and the way it animates using them, S.T.U.N. Runner was ahead of its time in 1989.
While not the most playable racing game ever made, S.T.U.N. Runner is still fun to play now, which is more than can be said for a lot of games.