When last we saw titles from European games developer Bravo Games Studio, players were protecting the stars with an overzealous body guard, and now the over-the-top play continues with Xtreme Wheels for both the iPhone and iPad devices. Designed with 2D levels filled with 3D artwork, the new $3.99 title looks prettier than most iOS titles. While it can be fun to play, it’s far from original.
A stunt bike driving game, the new title is fun and easy to pick-up for a few minutes at a time, with only a few minor headaches here and there in terms of game play. Unfortunately, while the title can be entertaining, it is an app that is far from original with an uncanny similarity to an Xbox Live Arcade game, Trials HD.
Players take control of a stunt bike driver with a simple objective: Get from Point A to Point B safely. The catch is that the courses are highly hazardous containing a series of increasingly extreme ramps, crates, explosives and drops. In order to reach the end, players must tilt their rider forward or backward to adjust the weight orientation and keep the bike upright, slowing and speeding up as needed.
It sounds simple enough, but one false move or over-compensation in weight-shifting, and players will find themselves careening into a wall, the floor, or an explosive barrel that will send the rider flying. The controls are fairly sensitive and take some getting used to, but players are granted the option to tailor it to their preference using sliding, button, or tilt controls.
Since it is extraordinarily easy to make mistakes in navigating the obstacle course, Bravo has provided several check points in which the player may restart after failing (and this will happen a lot). For the most part, this allows players to progress at a reasonable clip through the game.
One other downside is that the physics engine sometimes produces awkward results. Players can slow themselves in mid-air and even dangle by one wheel off the edge of a ramp should they desire. Thankfully, other than breaking the fourth wall of the game a bit, it doesn’t hurt game play too terribly much. Other than this, there are a few irritating challenges involving moving the bike backwards over an edge.
The other minor qualm is that the game doesn’t ever tell the player what they are supposed to do. Xtreme Wheels just presents a few buttons and a timer, and users figure out what to do through trial and error. There are a few signs in the background of the early levels, but they tend to blend into the stage and aren’t terribly noticeable the first few attempts, which sort of defeats the purpose of having them.
None of this really affects the play experience, and the game is still fun to play, but Xtreme Wheels loses a great deal of credibility because it feels too “inspired” by an Xbox Live Arcade game by the name of Trials HD that was released by RedLynx back in 2009. The game has the same concept involving navigating a stunt bike through an obstacle course. However, the two games almost look exactly the same. Both titles utilize the 2D level design with 3D objects, the same relative color palettes, and even the same camera perspective. In truth, the only real difference is that the iOS version has less game play.
Regarding any other mechanics worth noting, the game does come with about 20 levels. In addition to this, the game is tied to Game Center, which incorporates global leaderboards.
Overall, Xtreme Wheels is a game is a bit oversensitive in terms of controls. However, it’s easy enough to get used to. Beyond this, the game does have a few issues in terms of design and wonky physics that break immersion. Unfortunately, the stark similarity between it and an older, and popular, Xbox Live title seems to have contributed a great deal to that entertainment value.