Developer: Robert Saxton
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
What's nice about video games is that they remove those pesky physics that, in the real world, make tasks like jumping over obstacles--or, say, doing tricks on a motorcycle--quite difficult. GnarBike Pro is not that kind of video game. However, its punishing, physics-heavy gameplay is pretty much the only reason why it's fun.
GnarBike Pro puts players in control of a motorcycle and tasks them not with racing with others through a course but simply surviving said course. Responsive touch buttons control both the acceleration of the bike and the way the rider leans. Balance the bike and rider properly and one will make to the finish line. Fail and the rider will end up an upside-down rag doll impaled by a rail or crushed by his own bike. The amount of subtle, analog control one has over the bike is very satisfying.
However, with that great power comes the great responsibility of navigating the bike through the difficult and numerous free, pro, and user-created levels. At least the free levels have a generous amount of checkpoints. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that the best strategy is knowing when to be risky as neither overly-cautious nor overly-daring racing will succeed. Plus, the high level of control makes the player feel that failures are their own doing, not the game's.
Unfortunately, the game does not have that much going for it outside of its well-tuned gameplay. The graphics, music and sound effects are all thoroughly uninspired. There's a level editor but since everything takes place in a boring warehouse it's not too exciting. The game is packed with content and the medal system encourages one to beat levels faster. It's just a shame that the presentation is not as inviting.
GnarBike Pro impressively, and almost inadvertently, does a great job of giving the player the feeling of having a person's very life in their hands. If one can get past the bland aesthetics they will find a game with a hook well worth trying to master.