By: David Tavernier
LocoCycle is the latest game from eclectic developer Twisted Pixel, creator of such whacky games as ‘Splosion Man and The Maw. True to their roots, LocoCycle is a game that is both fun and semi- humorous. While its production values are lacking compared with other big name titles, this doesn’t mean you will walk away disappointed. On the other hand, with deft controls, solid visuals and its comedic storyline, LocoCycle has what it takes to be a decent next-gen launch title.
The controls in LocoCycle are always responsive, though melee fights, passable by simply mashing buttons, and quick time events, seemingly impossible to fail, can be a bit too easy. The only reason you will be driven to be accurate during QTEs is that you’ll receive a higher grade and more HP points at the end of the level. Other than those minor flaws, your motorcycle, called Iris, has responsive controls that will leave you satisfied.
It’s easy to make hairpin turns and weave in and out of traffic while fighting back against the Big Arms agents that are constantly pursuing you. LocoCycle also features a countering system, where time will slow and enemies that are about to attack will be highlighted with an orange crosshair. By pressing the “A” button in this instant you can counter their attacks, and this aspect of the game is well executed in that it requires skilled timing of the player. All in all, the controls for LocoCycle will not be a hindrance to your enjoyment in any way.
LocoCycle‘s presentation can be mediocre at times, but there are touches here and there that will make you nod in approval that this is actually an official next-gen title. The texture of each type of road is very well rendered, as is Iris. Iris’ 3D model has a nice blue sheen to it, and you can see her electrical circuits channeling oscillating electricity throughout her frame. LocoCycle‘s color set also works well for the game, as its over-exaggerated hues make it look like something out of Looney Tunes.
There are a series of levels that take place in heavily orange-colored canyons that will remind anyone of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Some of the best-looking levels take place at the beginning of the game where Iris and Pablo are trying to escape from Big Arms’ science labs. These levels are draped in blue and purple, and the blue texture of the road with its iridescence really pops.
As far as its cut scenes are concerned, LocoCycle manages to be off kilter in this respect in that it uses live video to tell its story. The acting in these is sub-par but not terrible. There are times where I cringed at the acting, but they adequately serve to move the story along and explain accurately what is happening between each episode of gameplay. Also, Tom Savini appears as the main bad guy, and any fan of 80’s zombie movies should get a chuckle out of that.
LocoCycle‘s sound also has its share of good and mediocre parts. The best part is easily its in-game voice acting. The banter between Pablo and Iris is consistently funny. Iris conveys a sense of electronic innocence in the way she responds negatively to Pablo’s pleas for help. The music on each stage of the game is easy to listen to but not very memorable. This isn’t precisely a negative, but it means that the music is only good enough to entertain you.
The gameplay in LocoCycle is a mixed bag. Some elements are entertaining, but others become a repetitive exercise in button mashing. The melee fight sections between Iris and Big Arms henchmen in particular are so easy to beat that you need only spam the X and Y buttons to escape with almost no damage.
Beyond these tiring sections, however, LocoCycle does a lot to keep you entertained. Much of the fun comes from destroying enemy cars and trucks and watching them spin out and fly through the air in wild explosions. There are a large variety of enemies that require skilled dodging to beat, from gyroscope-riding scientists to plasma-shooting robots that wield spinning blades. Also, most of the boss fights are lengthy and fun. They usually present a significant challenge, but are not so tough that they become cheesy. These bosses are very memorable, ranging from giant robots and weaponized helicopters to aircraft carriers and flying motorcycles.
If you want to have fun with LocoCycle, one rule to take note of is that you should not expect any realism at all. For instance, Pablo spends almost the entire game being dragged by a motorcycle that can go upwards of 100 mph. Iris can also launch Pablo around like a projectile at enemies, but afterward he always comes back and magically reattaches to her once more. These facts, of course, make no sense and are impossible. So you have to play through the game with a forgiving sense of humor, expecting (and accepting) the unexpected.
LocoCycle also has an in-game points system, where destroying enemies and completing certain objectives within a specific time limit will net you a significant number of points. Between levels there is an upgrade system where you can use these points to improve Iris’ melee damage, defense capabilities and projectile weapon damage.
Upgrading Iris gives the player a good sense of progression, and at the end of the game you should feel like a veritable powerhouse of a motorcycle. You can also spend your points on countless bonus unlockables, from photos of the cut scenes’ cast to concept art. Most cost 200-300 points, and each level nets you more than 10,000, so it’s relatively easy to unlock everything if you decide not to spend your points on motorcycle upgrades. These bonuses are a delightful addition that give you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of LocoCycle.
At $19.99, LocoCycle is a budget title. It took me 5-6 hours to beat the game, and I enjoyed it most of the way through. That being said, it isn’t stellar. There are repetitive sections and times that the graphics look somewhat dated. Still, it’s ultimately a humorous journey that is largely enjoyable as long as you can ignore its faults.