This year, I recieved a fantastic, well thought out gift from "The Girl."  That gift was a t-shirt, pictured here.

A S.T.U.N. Runner Logo on front / My highscore entry on back

Now there's a bit of a story here, if you're not aware. S.T.U.N. Runner is a shooter/driving arcade game released in September 1989 by Atari.  It's based off the hardware platform that drove the Hard Drivin' series of games.  Hard Drivin' games were notable since they were the first arcade games to have real 3D graphics. (Most games with "3D" were simply pre-drawn graphics.)  S.T.U.N. Runner expanded on that technology with both a 3D track and 3D polygonal enemies, as well as real voice samples.  To enhance the futuristic feel of the game, the cabinet was a sit-on, motorcycle style shape with flight controls.  Players raced against the clock through tunnels and open areas, shooting other vehicles and enemies to clear a path through the course.

A few years ago, I bought one of these units from a friend who formerly collected and restored arcade games.  This one, along with a 1981 Donkey Kong Cocktail sit in my basement in the room I affectionately call "The Romper Room".  The theory, from my roommate at the time, is that this one is the actual unit he grew up playing at an arcade called Rocket Change in the Quad Cities (Rock Island, Moline, Davenport, Betendorf).

Now, about the shirt: Every S.T.U.N. Runner game in the US had a contest that ran until April, 1990.  The last level in the game was essentially a "go as long as you can" sort of contest.  As you raced, you would see check points for the top 5 players on the high score table.  Before April 1990, you also saw a checkpoint for winning a free t-shirt.  Pass the checkpoint and a code would be displayed on the screen along with a mailing address.  If you wrote the code and your name and address on a postcard and sent it in, you would get a S.T.U.N. Runner t-shirt.

Since I bought the game, I have scoured the internet for news of someone who had ever received one of these shirts and found none.  I have no idea what the shirt looks like.  I imagine a warehouse full of them, because no one wanted to pump quarters into an arcade game just for a t-shirt. Then Atari gets bought and sold a few times and suddenly boxes of S.T.U.N. Runner t-shirts are shipped out with aid workers as a tax deduction.  Somewhere, a village's children are running around in S.T.U.N. Runner shirts.

Fortunately for me, a very creative and resourceful girl decided to make me my very own shirt, after hearing this lamentable tale of woe. And that is how she won christmas. Thanks, Jen.

More game info from KLOV

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04 January 2011


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