Version Reviewed: 1.1
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The first side-scrolling racing game I ever played was Excitebike. I remember playing Excitebike and kicking/slapping/verbally berating the game cabinet each time I wrecked. I couldn’t fathom how Nintentdo managed to fail to incorporate real-time physics into such a powerhouse of a game. Who cares if it was the early 80’s and such technology hadn’t been invented yet. That’s a lame excuse. What didn’t help is I could walk two machines down and wait in line to play Dragon’s Lair. If they could incorporate cartoons into video games and put a man on the moon, for God’s sake, Nintendo can get off its lazy expletive and change the face of gaming forever. Or a couple of years, whichever comes first.
When I played Alpine Crawler World for the first time, it immediately brought me back to those angst-filled days. After breathing into a paper bag for 10 minutes, I played my first game. Alpine Crawler is similar to Excitebike, but without Nintendo, a motorcycle, a lame excuse for a motorcycle rider, pyramids, I mean ramps and those annoying bumps on the track. And it incorporates real-time physics!
Alpine Crawler World is a side-scrolling, off-road racing simulator featuring 6 challenging levels with increasing difficulty and real-time physics. Playable in four different languages (English, Hungarian, German and French), Alpine Crawler World’s game play provides immerses players with its remarkable sense of speed and recklessness.
In addition, Alpine Crawler World offers the following:
Graphically, Alpine Crawler World is very impressive. Its colorful, scenic locales are detailed with animated visual effects, such as rain and snow, as well as daytime/nighttime driving conditions. Its animations are surprisingly smooth, fast and satisfying, giving players a true sense of oh-expletive-I’d-better-slow-down-or-I-shall-truly-perish game play.
Alpine Crawler World’s sound effects are detailed and equally impressive. From the rev/wind of the vehicle’s engine to the “umph” emitted from the driver as he/she bounces along the route, the game’s sounds integrate nicely with game play and add an additional, qualitative dimension to the overall experience which, in turn, increases its replay value. Players can even hear the pitch of each vehicle’s chassis as it squeaks across the unforgiving, fluctuating terrain.
Alpine Crawler World features just the right amount of customization options, without overdoing it. Players can choose from three scenic locales containing 10 tracks each (differing in degrees of difficulty): Sweden, The Alps and Kentucky (Kentucky?) and 5 different players, 3 males and 2 females (one of which suspiciously sounds like a MAN, baby!). Each locale has a specific vehicle assigned to it: Sweden features an all-wheel drive Jeep that resembles a Subaru surplussed from The Cannonnball Run, The Alps is designated a rear-wheel drive pick-up and Kentucky, in true, blue-grass fashion, sports an all-wheel drive off-road buggy called the Fire Crawler (the developers must be from Kentucky). There is also a fourth, unlockable vehicle.
In addition, the game supports OpenFeint integration and you can select the color of your vehicle, which I personally like, because racing with a red vehicle brings out the devil in me, while racing in pink allows me to navigate the tracks using my softer, gentler side.
Alpine Crawler World’s racing screen contains a pause button, a race time indicator, a health status indicator, speed indicator (which displays kmh or mph), brake and pedals, a GPS map and backward and forward buttons. Players control their vehicle by depressing either pedal in either direction (backward/forward). Players don’t have a tremendous amount of control over their vehicle, but the control they do have must be mastered to advance in this game. Driving with too much reckless abandon will cost you, though, as players’ vehicles take damage consistent with their driving behavior, i.e. taking too long of a jump could seriously detract from your health and even “KO” you, forcing you to start over.
As mentioned earlier, Alpine Crawler World has three modes of play: Free Ride, where players traverse the tracks at their own speed, without being timed, Time Trial, where players are timed on each track, earning Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies and Challenge mode, where players are given 10 lives to complete the 10-track circuit.
Time Trial and Challenge Modes are (obviously) both timed. Players are tasked with getting to the finish line as quickly as they can without permanently flipping over/getting stuck or inflicting too much damage to their vehicle. This is the crux of Alpine Crawler World and what makes it successful: drivers must push the limits between speed and safety, effectively navigating each track with just the right amount of finesse: Petering along the track won’t help you advance, but neither will driving with reckless abandon.
Players increase their time as they pass orange-flagged checkpoints mapped across the route. Players initially begin with a predetermined number of lives, but each time a vehicle flips, it takes a life (and about 4-5 agonizingly long seconds). However, each checkpoint you pass gives you an additional chance to reset your overturned vehicle.
Alpine World Crawler is not without its share of flaws (although they are minor): There are only 3 locales and, while each one has 10 tracks, I would like to see more locales. Also, I found the GPS map at the bottom of the screen is hard to read and pretty much useless. It could be designed better, with added features, such as checkpoints, etc. Also, when you flip your vehicle over, the game takes 4-5 seconds before it resets your vehicle upright. We’re in a death match here, where every second counts! This time should be whittled down to 2-3 seconds max. Being able to control the pitch/movement of your vehicle to set/prepare for landings while it’s airborne would be a welcome addition, also.
Alpine Crawler World is a fun, remarkable, well-polished feat of gaming gold worthy of a place within your iPhone/iPod Touch’s game library. The real-time physics game play, sound and graphics provide an addictive, enjoyable game play experience you’ll find hard to put down.