Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Moto Joe is an extremely difficult and strange platformer in which players are on a seemingly endless journey of jumping over spikes and fire pits with the goal of getting a high score, which usually falls somewhere in the double digits (on particularly good runs). As a platformer though, much of the difficulty comes from its controls and by having no unlocks or upgrades to help players along. Although this isn't entirely unusual - particularly in a post-Flappy Bird world. But there isn't really anything special about Moto Joe that sets it apart from other weirdly difficult platformers.
To play Moto Joe, players tap on the screen to make their motorcycle-riding protagonist jump. As the motorcycle moves along automatically, players have to time jumps to get on top of platforms, collect coins, and get over spikes and fire pits. The game keeps score of each run by counting how many spikes and pits have been successfully jumped over. Presented in a cool retro style and backed by a chiptune soundtrack, the look and initial feel hearken back to some old school arcade action.
After playing a few rounds though, Moto Joe's control scheme starts to sticks out as a major source of frustration. Most would think that a one-tap game wouldn't have control issues, but a variety of gameplay decisions make the simple act of tapping to jump feel way harder than it should be. As players jump, their motorcycle rider performs flips in mid-air; it's cool looking except for the fact that they can land on one tire, which seems to throw off the ability for players to jump precisely. Because Moto Joe is unapologetically tough with its timing, the idea that a random series of flips can prematurely end a run is a poor design choice.
Moto Joe also has a strange sense of collision. Players don't have to fall onto spikes or into fire pits to end a run. Rather, it seems that merely getting to close to these hazards is enough for the motorcycle to explode. This, paired with the imperceptible amount of analog control over jump height (depending on how long a finger is held on the screen) timing a jump that is just barely too late or holding a finger on the screen for just a hair too short, will cause game-ending runs all too often.
Since Moto Joe is free, it's supported by ads and has in-game currency. That being said, it's a little strange because the only thing that collectible coins can do is remove ads. If that isn't enough to make the collectibles feel trivial, having the asking price for this unlock set at 50,000 coins pushes them well into pointless territory. On any given run players might collect somewhere between 10 and 30, making the ability to opt out of ads only possible for those that play well past the point of it being any amount of fun.
Moto Joe left me feeling frustrated. It doesn't have a terrible premise, but it doesn't do itself any favors. In fact, it does itself many disservices by being hard to control and thin on content. Unless players are desperate for a new Flappy Bird-like experience, Moto Joe should be avoided.