Developer: Robert Szeleney
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Stick Stunt Biker for the iPhone is a combination two very successful game genres: the stick-figure ragdoll physics game, and the side-scroller dirt bike stunt game. It's a great example of both of these, so it's no wonder Stick Stunt Biker is consistently in the best-selling games section of the App Store.
Like other ragdoll physics games that came before it, Stick Stunt Biker has a minimal appearance. The player controls a stick figure that rides atop a stick bike, up and down ramps and hills that are depicted as simple lines. The background resembles a city scape that has been doodled on graph paper. It's like countless doodles bored students might have rendered before games like this came along to save them from their dreaded math classes.
The real charm comes not from the objects that populate the game, but from the realistic physics engine behind the scenes. The movement of the dirt bike as it leaps over hills is quite convincing. The best visuals happen when the player loses: if the bike doesn't land correctly after a jump or wheelie, the stick figure will be thrown across the screen, tiny limbs flailing in all directions. The bike will break into pieces, and the wheels will bounce off into the distance. If you've just lost the game, this visual is a fun consolation prize.
The controls in Stick Stunt Biker can be a little tricky to master, but after a few trial runs they will seem like second nature. The game designers wisely avoided on-screen controls like buttons and joypads, so thankfully there's nothing to clutter the screen or block the action. The player simply touches the right side of the screen to accelerate, and the left side to brake. To tilt the bike, just tilt the phone, and the iPhone's built-in accelerometer will register the correct angle. It's pretty intuitive, and makes nice use of the iPhone's high tech hardware.
Stick Stunt Biker is part of the Open Feint network of iPhone games, so players can easily upload scores and see how they rank among other players. If you're more interested in competing with your own best times, Stick Stunt Biker will show a "ghost"—or semi-transparent image—of the bike from the player's personal best if the level has been played before.
Stunt Stick Biker has great replay value. Fans of fast-paced gameplay should definitely give this app a chance.