Developer: ROCKET5
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

photo6In an earlier review, I made a reference to Excitebike, one of my all-time favorite video games and its (then) lack of real-time physics. Well, lo and behold, the developers at ROCKET5, albeit 30 years later, have finally given me closure with their latest app store release, Giant Moto.

Giant Moto is a 3D motorcross arcade racing game similar to the retro-classsic, Ecxitebike. Players race alone, Excitebike-style, or against computer AI on 6 different tracks with three different difficulty levels: Easy, Normal and Hard. Gameplay centers around racing the length of each track as fast as possible, jumping ramps and facing other obstacles, while using a built-in turbo feature, to score your best time.

photo10Graphically, Giant Moto hit the proverbial nail on the head with nailing (sorry) the look and feel of a 3D version of Excitebike.

Players select track, race type and rider color while listening to a track of traditional rock music infused with heavy guitar riffs. Once the race starts, though, the music ends and the sounds of the racetrack take over. At the beginning of each race, the crowd claps for the riders and emits a light rumble in anticipation of the upcoming race. After the race starts, as the rider moves farther away from the crowd, these sounds dissipate, replaced with the rev of the motorcycle’s engine as it hums along the track. At the conclusion of the race, the crowd applauds, which is odd, considering I came in last and took 5 minutes to finish a 40-second track.

photo7After selecting a track and difficulty level, players begin the race, solo or against AI opponents, to see who can get to the finish line the fastest. Players control their racers using a combination of virtual controls and tilt-based controls. The display screen contains two virtual arrows, located on the left of the screen, used to turn left and right and boost and gas arrows on the right. Wheelies and in-air control are accelerometer-based. A pause button is located in the upper-right of the screen and the turbo gauge is located along the upper-left. Players must use their turbo sparingly, or their engine will overheat, costing them precious time.

photo11While they’re certainly playable and work, I’m not crazy about the virtual control layout. I think the accelerate/turbo buttons could be shaped differently, so players can use them easier and should be slightly larger, as there is plenty of room on the display to increase their size. The left/right arrows are also under-compensated and could benefit from a slight enlargement. The accelerometer isn’t too sensitive, which I like, because I don’t want to be twisting and turning my phone in what others may interpret as some spastic, bizarre, smart phone mating call/ritual.

Virtual control issues, aside, I had fun playing this game. It brings back all the fond and frustrating memories I have of Excitebike and invokes that special feeling when nostalgia is upgraded or reproduced, to make it better, stronger, faster, to meet current gaming technology standards/expectations.

photo2 photo13

Giant Moto could certainly have more features, such as OpenFeint integration, more tracks, locales, etc., but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. (What in blazes is a gift horse, anyway?) Altering this game too much from it’s current state will turn it into just another (eventually forgettable) motorcross racer and not an updated version of the Excitebike original we all came to love.

Depending on what direction the developers want to go in, I would focus on fine-tuning what the game currently offers/suffers from, such as the controls, then, depending on what direction they want to take, update the game accordingly. Excitebike was a great game for it’s time, but you can dip a defunct Atari 2600 in gold and it’ll still be a defunct Atari 2600. What I’m trying to say is we can’t have our cake and eat it, too (I can go on all night like lumberjack with these euphemisms).

All said, Giant Moto is fun to play and would make the original Excitebike proud, but does suffer from a lack of features and a slightly under-developed control-scheme. At $0.99, however, it’s worth a gander, especially for all you Excitebike fans out there. For those of you who aren’t Excitebike fans, for whatever reason, go on Ebay, bid on and buy a time machine (or build your own if you’re not too lazy), use said time machine to fly back to 1984, play Excitebike until you fall in love with it, swipe as much 80’s paraphernalia as you can (parachute pants, Girbaud jeans, etc.) to bring back with you to give to me, then come back and play Giant Moto. It’s definitely worth the trip. And the potential of altering time and your family history when your mother falls for you and your Calvin Kleins.

I give Giant Moto 4 Deloreans out of 5.

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