Motorbike games have never done as well as those of their four-wheeled cousins. For some reason the lack of doors and the removal of two wheels seems to make developers do terrible things, and there's certainly very little on the DS for motorheads who favour bikes. This, however, is about to change, as Moto Racer DS launches this Friday.
This is definitely an arcade racer. You can slam into walls and fly around all over the place without falling off your bike. Whilst this might annoy hardcore biking fans, it does offer a nice little in-road into what is quite a challenging title. On beginner everything is super easy. You can go fast, take corners without slowing down and generally be a bit of a tit. Once you've mastered the basics, which takes a little while, you'll find the game pretty easy. Persevere through the boredom this may cause, though, and the difficulty eventually gets ramped up to become a real challenge again.
There are two main control methods. The first is to use the stylus to accelerate and turn by dragging it around the bottom screen. The second is to use the traditional d-pad and face buttons. Whilst both work well enough, they have their disadvantages. The stylus controls can be clunky and confusing; in order to boost or wheelie you have to awkwardly twist your hands to get to the R and L buttons, and the sliding nature of the touch screen controls don't give any sense that you're controlling a bike. As for the d-pad controls, the main issue is that this is a DS and we don't want to be using bloody buttons.
There is certainly an abundance of things to do. There are two main sections of the game: your standard ride-around-a-track racing, and the more exciting ride-around-a-course-doing-spine-breaking-tricks racing. Both are substantially different and offer unique challenges to get to grips with. By far the best modes are the standard racing or the street racing. Dodging real-world traffic on real-world streets at breakneck speeds is pretty good fun and the added challenge of having to go fast (your speed is clocked at certain points during the race) really keeps things interesting. Chuck in a ton of unlockables, different tracks and different challenges and you have a pretty decent title.
The Supercross mode (see, we know all the lingo) is where you get to pull off all the tricks and kill the little man on the bike...lots. We tried to persevere with the stylus controls but having to do that and perform tricks at the same time for long will turn the air blue and send DSes flying. Not only did it hurt our hands after a while, but it was stupidly difficult to do. Put simply, it doesn't control well. Not that it's a bad mode - change things over to d-pad controls and you have a pretty pleasant, if basic, trick racing game.
Moto Racer DS really is an enjoyable experience. Well, mostly enjoyable. Minor gripes we'd also like to throw into the mix include the music and the general sound effects. A lot of the races last nearly five minutes and five minutes of a very, very tinny sounding 'mmmmmrrrrrrrrr' of bike engines is just...so...horrible. And the music, well it's very camp 90s 'trying to be cool and manly' music, but we suppose that's the sort of image bike racing seems to go for, so we'll excuse them on that one.
A tricky one. At times the controls really let the game down, especially the stylus option, but on the whole it's pretty solid. Lots of modes, lots of challenges and lots of good arcade racing fun.
Graphically it is sound, with nice menus and pretty detailed environments, especially on the road races.
Annoying at best and pretty unremarkable the rest of the time. They do what they need to do and not much more.
There's much to unlock and play through, and the races themselves are pretty substantial to boot. Well worth the investment if this sort of thing appeals.
A solid title that's genuinely good fun. Loads of modes coupled with enjoyable racing makes for a game that we highly recommend. Yes, it might have some minor niggles and the controls might be a little suspect at times, but change the options around and cut the sound and you'll be racing away for hours on end.
I couldn't get along with it AT ALL in some of the control modes, but if you fiddle around and get into it (which does take a bit of patience) it turns into a pretty solid title.