Motorcycle racing games have long been a staple of video gaming over the years, and while we've seen some extremely unique gameplay ideas injected into them, there's probably never been one quite like Moto eXtreme. Rather than stick to the traditional racing action, developer Chillingo has instead crafted a motorcycle platforming experience and woven it around one of the most bizarre control schemes you're ever likely to find. And if you think you've seen all video games have to offer, think again.
The basic premise of Moto eXtreme involves taking control of your motorcycle and strategically navigating the stage to reach the finish line. In order to earn the best rating, you must locate and collect stars, as well as make it to the finish line under the time limit. It might sound like a simple goal, but you'll soon find that there's more to the game than mere speed.
Your first instinct when taking control of your motorcycle is to hit the gas and try to fly through the level as fast as you can. But since you're going to have to perform some rather tricky platforming manoeuvres, not to mention draw platforms for your bike to ride long, you're going to have to find the right balance between speed and manoeuvring your bike if you hope to finish all of the many tricky levels.
You can accelerate and brake your bike by using either up and down on the D-Pad or the A and B buttons. Both work quite well, but it does end up being easier using the action buttons for controlling your gas and brake since you'll be using the left and right directions on the D-Pad to control the tilt of your bike. You also have a grappling hook at your disposal that can be launched using the "R" shoulder button and you can even switch the direction your motorcycle is facing with a quick press of the "L" shoulder button. And while most of these controls have very little to do with what you'd be using in real life and do take some getting used to, they do become quite useable once you get the hang of them.
There are two modes to choose from, each with 32 levels to tackle. Trial Mode allows you to play the levels in a race to earn a 3-star rating. Here you'll navigate the levels, picking up stars and reaching the finish line under the time limit. Of course, if you like a bit more variety and challenge you can take on the Constructor Mode. This game features the same basic challenges of the Trial Mode, only this mode's levels will require you to use the stylus to draw platforms you'll need to ride your bike to the finish line successfully. And if you thought Trial Mode was hectic, you haven't seen anything yet.
The controls in the game are fairly responsive, but the scheme itself comes off quite confusing when you first begin playing. This is definitely a game that will require some time for you to get a grip on how the game works and what techniques work best in any given situation. Perhaps it's the lack of realism in the controls that throws you off at first, but if you put in the time to master them, you'll soon discover just how effective they can be.
While the fluid animation in many areas of the game's visual presentation is impressive, you'll soon notice the rather bland makeup of the many backdrops you'll be riding your way through. Obviously with the file size restriction there's only so much you can do, but it might have been better had the developers put less attention on the motorcycle and focused more on giving the scenery a bit more bite.
Fan of 80's era music should get a kick out of the funky synthesized musical tracks in the game. And while you will have to get used to hearing the same basic music repeated early and often, there are a host of authentic motorcycle sound effects to make things a bit more interesting.
You have to give the developers of Moto eXtreme an "A" for originality, but sadly the execution of the game's controls isn't quite as cut and dried. There's some good fun to be had, but that's assuming you're willing to put in the time to come to grips with the extremely unorthodox controls. If you're looking for something unlike anything you've likely played before and don't mind a bit of a learning curve, you might find this unique title worth a try, but if more intuitive controls are your cup of tea, this one could be a bit of a reach for you.