What the hell happened? How can a developer who created some of the most beloved Xbox Live Arcade games of the last generation get something so horribly, hopelessly wrong? Despite a strong back catalogue of technically solid and often surprisingly funny video games, Twisted Pixel has delivered one of the poorest and downright cringe inducingly horrible video games that I have had the displeasure of playing (and watching) in quite some time.
Let’s deal with the ‘watching’ aspect of the experience first as, that alone, will put many off LocoCycle before the gameplay even begins. At 15 minutes (15 MINUTES!?), the opening, live action intro, while already outrageously long for a game of this ilk, has to go down as the worst quarter of an hour that I have ever spent with a controller in my hand……I’m not even kidding, it really is that bad. I’m not sure if they were going for so bad it’s good or, God forbid, were actually trying to be funny, but either way, the intro and subsequent live action cut-scenes (oh, there are a few) are just plain embarrassing. The strange thing is, with a couple of Z-listers involved, it looks like they may have actually spent some money on these videos, making the subsequent horror show even harder to bear. I appreciate that starting a review with a critique of the games’ intro and cut-scenes is somewhat odd, but honestly, they are so, so…..so bad, that I simply had to get my hatred for them out the way first. Horribly written, horribly acted……just horrible.
The good news is, you can skip these. The bad news is, the game itself isn’t much better. This would be technically poor, largely unenjoyable stuff regardless of who it was made by, but considering that this self-indulgent nonsense was brought to us by the guys that developed the fantastic ‘Splosion Man (one of my favourite platformers of the last generation), it has to go down as one of the biggest gaming disappointments of the past few years. Yes, self-indulgence can work out, and at times, can deliver some of the more interesting pieces or art and entertainment out there (Braid being a perfect example). The problem is, when something as self-indulgent as this goes as wrong as, LocoCycle has, it makes for a truly horrifying mess of an experience. The thing is, self-indulgence is kind of like wearing pink football boots – fine in theory, but only if you are delivering the goods; like a one legged chimp wearing a pink football boot at Old Trafford, LocoCycle absolutely fails to deliver.
Yes, the premise of a confused, self-aware kung-fu motorcycle driving across the country with a hapless Mexican mechanic dragged along (literally dragged) for the ride is just about silly enough as to be potentially amusing. The problem is, the tone, the mechanics, the gameplay, it all falls painfully short, so in essence, what you are left with is a ridiculous premise stuck to a game that stops being fun the moment you get past its log line.
Despite the idea of a motorcycle based racer infused with combat immediately evoking found memories of Road Rash, LocoCycle’s horrible handling, terrible visuals, unpleasant art style and boring combat quickly puts an end to any hope of a spiritual successor to EA’s much loved racer. Combat and handling feel inaccurate with Pedro’s (our long suffering mechanic) long range attacks and I.R.I.S’ (the AI bike) painfully weak machine gun both providing little enjoyment from ranged combat while melee attacks, which are achieved via the bike magically floating in the air for as long as enemies are about, prove far too simplistic to keep you entertained beyond the first few encounters. There are a few QTEs to keep you on your toes and a handful of mini games to break up the core gameplay mechanics, but these are either far too easy or, in many cases, obscure to the point of sheer annoyance.
With only a handful of enemy types to contend with and combat that is either overly repetitive or painfully inaccurate, the core mechanics fail to impress throughout and with the handling as terrible as is here, LocoCycle manages to fail miserably as both a racer and a brawler. Cursed with technically and artistically poor visuals to boot, I get the horrible impression that all of the money, all of the effort throughout development went into those damnable cut-scenes…….man, I really hope that’s not true.
Either way, the fact is, I don’t enjoy writing reviews for games when I have nothing positive to say, but sadly, this is one of those games. I was put off from the moment that hideous intro began and got barely a moments enjoyment from a game that is, for the most part, borderline inexcusable. The fact that it was made by a team who have developed genuinely fantastic games in the past makes this technical and artistic disaster all the harder to take. I hope it’s just a blip in the road for this otherwise fantastic developer, but man, what a blip it is.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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