App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Do you remember Trials? If not, just stop reading this now and go play it. RedLynx's physics-based motorcycle racer pioneered one of the most compelling time-trial/platforming hybrids ever created, and this is the mold Bike Baron 2 is made from. Cornfox's take on the genre nails most of the core feel that these games need in order to be acceptable, but is missing the extra features that could make make it feel like more than a barebones mobile imitation.
Bike Baron 2 is a motorcycle racing game, though its tracks are more like obstacle courses. You ride your motorcycle over ramps, piles of boulders, under swinging logs, and through minefields in the hope of reaching the finish without wrecking in some catastrophic way. These races aren't against other riders, either, but more of a time trial of sorts. You want to reach the end quickly, but simply flooring it and hoping for the best will surely cause infinite wrecks and restarts.
Exactly like the Trials games Bike Baron 2 is modeled after, there's no turn steering here. Your motorcycle moves linearly along the track while you simply control the throttle, brakes, and the forward or backward tilt of your bike. Although it sounds limiting, this can lead to pretty complicated maneuvers including riding loops, ramps that launch you backwards, and wall riding. This is all by design, as Bike Baron 2 is all about creating the most chaotic and difficult tracks for you to try and master.
Rev up and restart
Bike Baron 2 has over 50 individual tracks, all of which only take a couple of minutes or less to complete, provided you know what you are doing. That said, the bonkers physics and wild course design in this game make it so you'll most likely spend way more time on each course crashing and retrying than you'll probably ever want to admit. Luckily, Bike Baron 2 alleviates the tedium of trial-and-error by making checkpoints frequent and restarts nearly instant.
Upon finishing a course, you are rated according to a star system that usually rewards you for reaching the finish, doing so in a certain amount of time, and then a variable objective like finishing without crashing or performing a certain amount of flips per level. On top of this, your overall time is then posted to a leaderboard, where you can see how you compare to other players.
The moment to moment feel of Bike Baron 2 is excellent and easy to control via touchscreens, but feel can only take a game like this so far. What makes games like Trials and even spin-offs like Trackmania so compelling is that you get a live sense of how you perform next to other players as you are driving. This is to say Bike Baron 2 may show you a leaderboard at the end of a run, but that's not nearly as motivating or exciting as racing alongside a ghost rider from another player (or even yourself!).
Another notable absence from Bike Baron 2 is a level editor. Once you've completed all of the game's single player tracks, there are some online challenge events available, but those simply repackage the existing levels into a time-limited leaderboard, making it hardly feel different than then base game. Although making custom levels is clearly a bonus feature of sorts and not super necessary to the core experience, I can't help but feeling like I'll run out of steam on the pre-existing tracks sooner rather than later.
The bottom line
Bike Baron 2 positions itself alongside a specific genre of game, and in doing so mostly reveals what it is lacking. Sure, it's a racing game that feels snappy and has some really creative track design, but Trials has that and ghost modes, live leaderboard tracking, level editors, and more. On the flip side, Bike Baron 2 is something you can take anywhere and is comparatively less expensive. The only problem is I'm not sure I want a frustrating and brutal physics racer if I don't feel like I'm suffering to get one up on my friends in the process, and this unfortunately makes Bike Baron 2 harder to recommend.