Bike Rider DX makes its way to the 3DS eShop, intent on riding into the hearts of gamers on a budget. It brings plenty of charm with its world hopping locales and cute visuals. Unfortunately, though, there are bumps in the road for this title, and its smartphone quality gameplay fails to measure up to its comparatively high $6 price.
Bike Rider DX is a port of a game previously only available for iOS and Android smartphones. It's a fun little platformer possessing charm in abundance, with a theme involving bike riding in diverse locations from London to Beijing. The art for each location is great, and the 3D is put to solid use, with the various 2D planes being separated giving the impression of peering into a little diorama. The presentation isn't necessarily impressive, but it's effective and the game's style is appealing.
The gameplay is the very definition of simple: use the Circle Pad to accelerate and the A button to jump. Press it again to double jump. Whilst on the titular bike, the player will jump from platform to platform, the camera pushing the action ever forward; no time for looking back! The gameplay here is fairly standard platform fare, enhanced with power-ups. In the latter half of the game, the stages become more elaborate in nature and allow multiple paths to be explored, but the stages before this point feel like a real waste, being far too easy.
This is an issue that plagues the entirety of the production; there really isn't much challenge here even once those final stages are unlocked. The game's own mechanics work against it, with the double jump ability subverting any attempt by the level designers to challenge the player. Far too often, the player can leap over problem sections of the track without having to face them. Each level contains three coins to find - the currency for unlocking additional stages beyond the original ten - but the coins come easily enough the first time through, and only perfectionists need bother going back for all of them.
Outside of the World Tour mode with its ten stages (each stage possessing five levels), Bike Rider DX also offers a Grand Prix mode. The gameplay here is the same as in World Tour but rather than clearing pre-made stages, the game throws out a never ending mish-mash of platforms for the player to conquer, attempting to survive as long as possible. Personal bests are saved to a leader board, but alas there's no option to compete against the greater community.
Being on a bike, the player would be forgiven for expecting velocity to be integral to the gameplay, but that isn't the case here. In fact, the game's camera actually kills any sense of "need for speed" dead in its tracks. The camera doesn't lock to the bike's pace when accelerating with the Circle Pad; this in turn means there's a bottleneck on the speed one can actually maintain before hitting the end of the screen and being blindly at the mercy of the course. The camera is always pushing the player forward, but it's also always keeping the player from moving with any intensity. It becomes apparent that the most effective method is to plod along at slower speeds and only accelerate when jumping platforms. Bike Rider DX is more about precision than speed, which begs the question, why is the player on a bike anyway? The answer appears to be "just because."
This is the sort of answer that suffices when downloading $1 titles in smartphone app stores while waiting for a haircut, but expectations are a bit higher when a 600% premium is demanded. Bike Rider DX isn't a bad game, but it's badly priced. In this day and age - when the gamer is likely to possess a smartphone in addition to their 3DS - one can't simply ignore the reality that this same title can be had elsewhere for 1/6 of the price.
This could be justifiable if the game was significantly upgraded for its 3DS release, but there's little evidence that has occurred here. In fact, having bought the iOS version for comparison's sake (you are welcome, publisher Spicysoft), there's disappointingly little added value. To be fair, the frame-rate on the 3DS version is smoother and the Circle Pad adds a nice element of control, but Bike Rider DX fails to truly elevate its gameplay or slate of modes for release on a system geared towards deeper experiences. Given the choice between the two, the 3DS version is better; it's simply not six times better.
At the end of the day, Bike Rider DX is a fun game. It's the sort of title that's nice to have when needing to kill fifteen minutes or so. It has pleasant graphics and a solid soundtrack, and while its gameplay lacks depth, it's entertaining enough for short bursts. Despite this solid grounding though, the price leaves a lot to be desired. This one is best saved for players in unique circumstances: those who lack a smartphone and are craving something in the genre.