Developer: William Garrett
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Moto Mania is a ragdoll physics-based dirtbike game for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it follows in the footsteps of some of the classic side-scrolling dirtbike stunt games of the past, like Excite Bike for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Moto Mania has an advantage over the older games, however: thanks to the built-in accelerometer of these iDevices, it's possible to control the tilt of the bike by simply tilting the device to the left or right. This makes game play incredibly intuitive.
Intuitiveness of play aside, Moto Mania is certainly a challenge. The object of the game is to navigate your bike over ramps and obstacles to complete the course in the shortest amount of the time possible. It really does feel like it is "your" bike because, at the start of play, you can customize the cycle by picking out the color of the bike's finish and the style of the wheels. It's a simple gimmick, to be sure, but it does help along the illusion that the bike is yours, and may get you feeling a bit more invested in getting it safely from one side of the course to the other.
Moto Mania comes with two sets of courses, The City and The Country. The city-themed course is set before a backdrop of buildings, and the player must navigate the bike over cars and other city-appropriate obstacles. The country course is more like what you would expect to see in a dirtbike game: lots of dirt, ramps, and the odd tree here or there. Both courses have numerous tracks that become progressively more difficult, and the player is always invited to replay the tracks to set a new record time. This gives Moto Mania great replay value.
The one drawback to Moto Mania is the physics engine, which is a little unfortunate for a game that markets itself as physics-based. When the player fails to land a jump, or when the bike crashes, the result is not very realistic. Other games with self-professed "ragdoll" physics will have the biker tumble around like, well, a ragdoll. In Moto Mania, the biker seems to only bend at the waist. Also, that waist joint bends a full 360 degrees. Add this to the fact that the bike doesn't break apart or even move very much after a crash, and it becomes clear that this part of the game needs a fair amount of work.
Apart from the physics of crashes, the gameplay is actually very good. Objects seem to fall a little more slowly in Moto Mania than they do in similar apps, which gives crashing in this game a more relaxing feel. This makes Moto Mania more suitable to play when the gamer is looking for something other than an edge-of-your-seat kind of gaming experience. The relaxation factor makes Moto Mania more suitable for the casual gamer more than the hardcore, adrenaline-junky kind of gamer. Moto Mania is only $0.99 in the App Store, so all kinds of gamers are sure to find it worth a try.