Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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We tell ourselves we like watching extreme sports like skateboarding and mountain bike riding because we like watching professionals show off how skilled and athletic they are. But deep down, we know that most of the fun really comes from gleefully gawking as they mess up tricks in the most spectacular, body-contorting ways possible. Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing straddles this line between success and voyeuristic, gruesome failure to great effect.
Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s played Trials, GnarBike, or any other physics-based bike riding game. Players race down mountains and perform stunts all while trying to steer their ragdoll rider who is very sensitive to the laws of physics; gravity especially. By tilting their device, carefully pedaling, and knowing when to crouch, players maintain a very precise level of control making any resultant wipeouts their responsibility. Flawless runs earn more stars to unlock new gear with better stats like shock-resistant frames, weighted wheels to help keep the rider parallel to the ground, and flannel shirts that just look cool.
The 20 mountains each have six levels separated into two categories: racing levels and trick levels. In racing levels players have to reach the bottom of the mountain as fast as they can. In trick levels they need to score a certain amount of points. It’s a pretty obvious split, but it has a curious effect on the game. While the racing levels are easier, and more prominent, there have fewer opportunities for the player to do anything interesting. But the trick levels, while much tougher, provide chances for fun experimentation. Activating tricks like barspins and tailwhips is as easy as tapping a button on the trick wheel. However, successfully stringing together combos while still being mindful of things like momentum and orientation takes real skill and practice. A generous amount of ramps gives players the air time they need to effectively pull off big stunts, and occasional checkpoints give much appreciated second chances.
But let’s be real. Sometimes it’s fun to just look at something go wrong. Players will crash a lot in Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing and watching the chaotically flailing limbs of the otherwise well-animated racer is a sight onto itself. It’s also a funny contrast to the gentle, painted, parallax backgrounds full of beautiful natural landscapes like pastoral autumn forests and sandy desert canyons.
Mountain biking in real life is great, but dangerous. With Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing players can, and will, race and crash to their hearts’ content from the safety of their own homes.