Developer: Twisted Pixel Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PC. There may be differences between versions.
This one pains me to write. Of all the studios under Microsoft’s umbrella Twisted Pixel was always the one that I would consider the most entertaining. Games like ‘Splosion Man, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley, and The Gunstringer (The latter of which still continues to be one of the only non-dancing/fitness Kinect game worth owning) had managed to entertain me with fun gameplay mechanics while injecting a great deal of laughs into the games. So when I finally had to put LocoCycle down I had to step back and ask “what happened?”
Well on one hand it wasn’t the humor or story that failed. In LocoCycle you play as I.R.I.S, a combat motorcycle with an advance AI in it. After she is hit by a lightning bolt her AI goes rampant and obsessed with trying to get to the Freedom Rally. Along the way she accidentally grabs the Spanish speaking mechanic Pablo (played by actor Freddy Rodriguez) and he becomes an unwilling traveling companion for I.R.I.S. As expected for Twisted Pixel the story is played like a big joke. Every character is always spouting out hilarious lines and the situations are always getting more and more ridiculous. Furthermore, a lot of the cutscenes are told with some humorous fully motion videos (That even feature some cameos by Tom Savini and James Gunn) that play up hammy acting and chewing up as much of the scenery as possible. It goes a long way for making me want to play the game, which is good because, well, nothing else makes me want to do that.
LocoCycle could probably best be compared to a beat ’em up, though it’s tough to put it anywhere specifically. You’re always moving forward, so you never need to worry about advancing through the stages. Instead you simply have to move left and right and wait for the next wave of enemies to come at you. Each enemy actually requires different tactics to take down. Cars drive in front of you and shoot back, and they need to be taken down with machine guns. Jet pack enemies require you to jump in the air and make simple combos with X and Y to fight them. Other motorcycles will surround you and you need to either use X to attack in front of you or Y for behind you. Yet despite all these mix ups the majority of fights can basically be boiled down to “mash X/Y or hold B until everything is dead.” I rarely felt challenged by the game, nor was I ever having fun with it. It’s mostly just a slog to see some more goofy scenarios or jokes.
The game is already heavy on mixing things up, so boss fights kind of stand out when they just reuse the exact same mechanics from other enemies, only it just takes longer to do everything. Normal enemies may only make you knock back one missile, but a boss will be sure to triple that for no reason. Often it feels like anything you’re doing has no actual effect and you’re just holding out until the game decides it’s time to move on to the next segment. Sometimes there will also be quick time events, though they’re done a little odd here. If you just set your controller down and miss all the actions the game will continue as normal. The only thing you miss out on is points. Hitting the commands gets you the points, of course. You’ll want these points because between levels you can use them to upgrade I.R.I.S. None of the upgrades do anything particularly impressive though.
LocoCycle has about 18 missions which take between 5-15 minutes each. Yet about half way through the game I hit the spot where I didn’t want to go any further. With no other options or gameplay modes to turn to, I often just found myself shutting LocoCycle off and having to force myself to turn it back on. I have difficulty recommending LocoCycle to anyone but die hard Twisted Pixel fans.