If your favorite part of Angry Birds is adjusting and readjusting your settings to get just the right shot, this game is for you
The name "Stunt Star: The Hollywood Years" sounds like an action game, but in reality it's a physics-based title not unlike Angry Birds and its ilk. Rather than focusing on the environment and how to best destroy it and all who dwell within, though, your goal is to nail that perfect landing... or at least get close enough.
Along with some items and tricks to help see you through the day of shooting, your focus is primarily on the gas and brake pedals of your vehicle of choice. In addition to acceleration and deceleration, these two buttons also help you spin in the air, forward and backward. And to say nothing of leveling out, which is key to landing without the director yelling at you and calling for another take.
And expect a lot of takes. You not only have to land right-side up (picky, picky), but you must also come to a complete stop near the checkered flag, which is between two other flags. Go past the flags, and you'll have to do it again (this director has never heard of an editing room, it seems).
The problem this presents is that braking... well, it may stop your wheels, but it won't stop your vehicle as well as you would like. In almost humorous fashion, the 2D perspective seems to completely ignore three-dimensional concepts such as spinning or skidding to a stop; as a result, hitting the brakes more often than not sends you and your vehicle into something of a somersault spin, as though the vehicle wants to be the next Sonic the Hedgehog.
This results in a lot of fine-tuning on your part. Whereas Angry Birds and the like would have you adjust your angle and how far back to pull the slingshot (among other things), you have to tweak when to hit and release your gas and brakes, both on the ground and in the air, in order to clear whatever obstacles that sadist with the goofy goatee has placed in your way.
In addition to different items and augmentations that enable you to further adjust things, you'll use a variety of vehicles to accomplish your goal, each with their own weight and attributes. There are pick-ups, monster trucks, ATVs, motorcycles and more. The downside is that these fancy new rides come out of your pocket.
What's more, it seems that certain rides are best -- if not simply required -- for certain stunts, meaning you may have to replay previous stunts to earn more cash to get the vehicle necessary to perform new stunts. And after you've gone through take-after-take-after-take of getting some of these right, the need to replay them overrides any desire to, as you're left with little choice if you wish to proceed (well, that, or you can always buy more in-game currency with your real-life currency). But at least you can bring the new stuff you've bought back with you to freshen things up a bit.
An interesting additional factor is that in certain areas, you're required to draw a line with the touch screen to form a ramp. You basically place one end within a green box and draw it to the other end, using that to make your jump. It's kind of neat, though we're not sure it really adds much except for one more element to micromanage in setting up that perfect jump over the helicopter or thresher or what-have-you.
Overall, Stunt Star: The Hollywood Years isn't bad, but it can get a little bit tedious as you constantly try to get things just right for an ungrateful director who you'll want to curbstomp more than Michael Bay by the time you're through playing. Nailing the perfect landing may be a little more satisfying than toppling the pigs' fort in Angry Birds, but getting there can wind up a bit more tedious.
- A variety of vehicles and power-ups to work with and micromanage. Cool premise.
- Gameplay is very meticulous. If replaying levels to get things just right for completion wasn't enough, you may find yourself needing to go back and grind for cash as well. Director is a bit irritating after your third or fourth crash.