LocoCycle
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 8

LocoCycle is a game that revels in it’s cheesy b-movie plot and backs it up with some nice arcade-style gameplay. Alternating between shooting cars off the road or beating up flying bad guys with martial arts moves is as entertaining as it is wacky. It’s not the longest or most in-depth game we’ve ever played, but it is definitely worth the low asking price.

Gameplay: An arcade-like experience which lacks depth, but is a lot of fun.

Graphics: Nice character detail, but the environments feels a bit sparse.

Sound: A nice performance from the Prague Symphony Orchestra and solid voice acting

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LocoCycle

Developer: Twisted Pixel Games | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Casual / Racing | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The star of LocoCycle is I.R.I.S, a sentient motorcycle that looks like it is from the Knight Rider era of television shows. IRIS is supposed to serve as a tool for an unscrupulous defense contractor, but after being struck by lightning she decides to attend a freedom rally in Scottsburg, Indiana instead. Pablo, her unfortunate mechanic, gets his pants caught in her chassis so he is unwillingly dragged along for the ride.

LocoCycle is clearly inspired by cheesy B movies so don’t expect the plot to make too much sense. Trying to figure out how a human being can survive being used as a melee weapon by a motorcycle with martial arts abilities will just lead to a headache. Instead, sit back and switch your brain off for one hell of a ride.

IRIS might be a motorcycle, but this is no racing game. Big Arms, the people who designed her, want IRIS back or destroyed. With thousands of goons between her and her destination, IRIS has to fight to stay on the road. Hot on her trail is S.P.I.K.E, a fellow sentient motorcycle still on the Big Arms payroll and the only thing that might actually be capable of stopping her. IRIS is constantly on the move, so you either have to dodge obstacles in her path or gun down the enemies attacking her. While you can stop or slow down, you can move left and right or use the boost button to speed up. The linear path you travel along makes the game feel like an old school arcade game, but thankfully there is a bit more to the gameplay than that.

While you can try to sideswipe enemies on the road it is more effective to use your guns, especially after a few upgrades. The melee combat comes into play when you encounter flying enemies, such as the jetpack equipped soldiers. You only have two attack buttons, a weaker attack performed by IRIS and a stronger attack using Pablo so the combat is very button mashing friendly. It is not uncommon to rack up combos of a few hundred hits and counters are as easy as pushing the boost button when an enemy is highlighted. You don’t have to worry about your surroundings — IRIS remains in the air while fighting, which makes the combat look flashy but rather shallow.

Sometimes the game switches gears and requires you to perform some quick-time events in order to avert disaster. These sequences look nice, but once again tend to be rather easy. There are also a few on-rail shooter sections and a couple of surprises that I don’t want to spoil. You are graded on your performance after each level and can use the experience point to upgrade IRIS. Unlocking more health and weapons is nice, but I would have liked to see a few moves added to the melee combat instead of just charging the attacks with certain elements such as fire or ice. I should mention that the boss battles were easily my favorite part of the game and featured quite a few impressive foes. I can’t really think of any other games where you get to use a motorcycle to smack a train or helicopter around!

The game uses some cheesy live action sequences for the story which once again showcase the love that the developers have for B movies. The humor is definitely not going to appeal to everyone, but it’s hard not to laugh when a supposedly menacing missile is obviously made from cardboard, or a motorbike casually licks an ice-cream while chatting. The behind the scenes videos that you can unlock show how much effort has gone into the creation of the bikes, but I wish the same polish was lavished on the in-game graphics. The visuals look cartoony, which is a good thing, considering it features a man being dragged along by a motorcycle, but the backgrounds lack detail. The characters look pretty decent and there is a nice selection of enemies, but the miles of open road aren’t made up of many memorable locations. The five levels feature highways, deserts, mountains and even the ocean, but I was hard pressed to recall anything particularly memorable about these scenes after playing. You can choose between 32bit and 64bit modes when launching the game, but even on a beefy system the visuals never looked cutting edge. Considering this is a $10 title instead of some $60 production I can’t complain too much about the visuals.

The music in the game is performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra, but can be drowned out by the constant chatter between Pablo and IRIS. Pablo speaks Spanish and IRIS has a fried language module, so she gleefully misunderstands his constant pleas for help. The two of them have plenty of funny lines, but if it becomes too much for you there is a welcome option to switch off the voices. There are some well known names behind the voices such as Lisa Foiles as IRIS, Freddy Rodriguez playing Pablo and Robert Patrick lending his vocals to SPIKE. I didn’t mind the speech that much, apart from the fact that I missed a lot of Pablo’s lines due to the subtitles which are hard to read when you are concentrating on other things.

The game is definitely better when played with a controller, but is forgiving enough when using a keyboard. I encountered a problem where the game didn’t save my progress unless Steam Cloud synchronization is enabled, but this is something that the developers are already looking into. The game can be completed in about five hours and there isn’t much replay value but the price is low enough that this shouldn’t be an issue.

I found LocoCycle to be very entertaining despite the shallow gameplay and spent most of the game with a smile on my face. The game doesn’t’ take itself too seriously, which is part of the charm and the challenge is low enough for casual gamers to jump in and have fun. If you have beaten games like God of War or Devil May Cry on the highest difficulty levels, then this is probably not the game for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see a motorcycle performing martial arts then LocoCycle is the game for you.

*Review originally published February 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2 32-bit
  • Processor: Dual Core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX10 GPU w/256megs VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 15 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Windows HD Audio
  • Additional Notes: DirectX9 GPU not supported
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • Processor: Quad Core
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX11 GPU w/1gb VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 15 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Windows HD Audio

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