Saturday, October 04, 2014

Extreme Bike Trip: my favourite waste of time

If you asked me which game I have played most this year, I'd probably say Populous: the Beginning, with its 4-hour sessions, or Mario Kart 8 with its endless online.  Professor Layton's Azran Stuff has taken many hours as well, with daily puzzles adding to that.  One of those then.

But I'm kidding myself.  I have no doubt sunk the most hours into Extreme Bike Trip, a simple iPhone game where you control a bike hurtling through a hilly landscape.  It automatically accelerates (all the time it has petrol, at least), and your controls are a left and right rotate trigger.  The priority is to land on your wheels after every jump; but if you do only this then you'll quickly run out of fuel.  Instead, you must do tricks - flipping the bike over, landing into a wheelie, or slamming the bike downwards - which then give you a boost and allow you to collect more fuel cans.  Do enough tricks in one combination, and you get an overdrive which sends you rocketing.

It sounds simplistic, and it is.  There are a few things that set it out from similar games - many by the same developer.  Firstly, when you crash, your game's not quite over.  You control your hapless rider, hurtling along the ground, and you can try to make him reach that extra star by forward rolling.  The ragdoll physics are at times hilarious, as you land from a 30m drop straight onto your bum.

Secondly, there are the missions.  Each bike - and there are lots of bikes, each controlling differently - has a set of missions which you can work through.  It's a similar mission structure to many games, with you being given three missions at a time and only those that are current can be completed.  Early missions - jump over 25m, collect 100 stars - are all ticked off in their first game, but they get quite tricky towards the end.  On some of the bikes I have only one mission to complete, which tends to be something like travelling 200m upside down on a jump, or jumping over 300m.

And lots of these missions do really rely on luck - hitting a mine at the top of a long hill just after you've activated overdrive, for example.  Maybe that's why I'm finding it so compelling - I'm good at the game, but at times I can be great, and it's just making sure that I'm great at a time when a certain mission can be ticked off.

There's a load of other stuff in the game too.  You can buy new bikes using ether stars or bucks, which theoretically you can pay real money for but I haven't as yet (since I feel they're a bit too expensive for the amount you get).  Each day you get a 'frenzy run', where you get given a jet pack and have to collect as many stars and bucks as you can while keeping refuelled.

There's a multiplayer mode, where you can win trophies (which can be used to purchase some other bikes).  There are leaderboards for the fastest to 1km, 2km, 5km, longest distance, longest distance after crashing, and so on.  I dread to think how much time I've spent playing this, but I've completed the missions for only 15 bikes out of a total of about 40.

I'm not going to stop any time soon.

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