In 1976 Atari released Stunt Cycle into the arcades allowing the player to be one of the great motorcycle daredevils by jumping their bike over an increasing amount of buses without the fear of injury or death. I don’t think it was officially stated but I believe it fairly safe to say this game was inspired by the iconic 70’s personality Evel Knievel. I loved playing with the Eval Knievel toys when I was a kid so this game was right up my alley
This game has a great looking cabinet in my opinion. I love the side art with the motorcycle rider flying through the air with the busses and landing ramp below him. The cardboard bezel gives the impression of this happening inside a stadium and of course it hard to miss the controls on this game a motorcycle handlebar with grips and a working throttle. It is a 1 or 2 player game but in truth I find it more challenging when you play a 2 player game. In a single player game if you crash you know about where the throttle was and you adjust it adding or subtracting a little next time but if you walk away to give the 2nd player his turn when you get back you lose that reference for that first jump back.
The object of the game is to safely jump a number of busses at the bottom of the screen. You start with 8 of them and with each successful jump another will be added up to a maximum of 27 which is the highest score that can be reached and after that jump is completed the game will end. You begin the game in the top left part of the screen and as you give the bike more throttle your speed increases as you head right across the screen into a tube that turns you around and drops you to the middle level heading left towards the last tube that turns you around again and sets you up for the jump on the bottom track. Well on your trip to the jump at the bottom as you give the bike more throttle the front wheel will start to lift off the ground and wheelie which is fine but don’t overdo it or your bike will flip over, you’ll skid painfully down the road and have to start over. Hopefully you have gained the correct amount of speed when you hit the jump and land on the landing ramp. If you don’t have enough you’ll landed on the busses and tumble off or too much and you’ll crash when you hit the ground. If you do land successfully another bus will be added and you try your luck again. Now if you want to see my game in action click on the video below.
When I have Stunt Cycle out at parties it receives a fair amount of play and can get to be a bit competitive. Also because the only control you have is the throttle it can be played with your favorite beverage in hand too. Atari Released a dedicated console for the home market that plays really well so if you can find one give it a try. A version for the 2600 was started but was changed to a Dukes of Hazard theme. Neither of the two made it to release but are available as prototype ROMs. Below is a picture of the Stunt Cycle home console