Thursday, November 5, 2009

Micro Rider

As I’ve noted before in Big Mean Flash Gamer, I’m a really big fan of “tilty” games, straightforward time killers that have you driving a vehicle over a bumpy surface, trying to keep balance. They’re pretty much the perfect online Flash game because by and large they keep things very simple. There isn’t much need for flash nor any bells and whistles - tilty games are designed to be as easy to play as Pong.

So screwing up a tilty game takes a remarkable amount of skill (or a remarkable lack of skill, whichever you prefer.) And since I’m writing about it, no one should be surprised that Micro Rider is part of that miniscule minority.

You only need to look at the title screen on the top of this page to see the paucity of effort or ideas that’s been put into this game. There’s no image of the bike you drive or the landscapes you travel across; it’s just a blank blue screen, reflecting the emptiness of the game itself. And then, once you actually start playing, it doesn’t take long to discover that this is no more than a rip-off of Max Dirt Bike, which would be fine if Max Dirt Bike hadn’t been released about three years ago.

I’d definitely advise Max Games to call up a lawyer, because this is about as blatant a theft as I’ve seen. The sound effects, the animation, entire levels - all are eerily familiar. It seems the only thing the creators of Micro Rider didn’t steal was Max Dirt Bike’s solid gameplay.

You’d imagine a game that uses no more than four buttons wouldn’t have control issues, but you’d be wrong. When the controls aren’t unresponsive, they’re too responsive, sending your little biker spinning through the air before crashing headfirst into the ground. Speaking of the ground - I’m not too sure why it looks so bumpy, as it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as rough when you’re driving over it. But then, it doesn’t need to be - I crashed at the very start of Level 7 by driving forward.

A lot of the levels are frustrating, but none are particularly difficult until you reach Level 20. Of course, with the bugs in this game, reaching Level 20 takes more than good balance. I stopped playing at Level 25, not because I wanted to (though, to be honest, I really did) but because the game wouldn’t let me go any further. A glitch meant that even when I completed the course, the game still thought I had crashed. So explain to me how I’m supposed to enjoy a game that’s not only ripping off another, better game, but which I am incapable of finishing due to some crappy code?

If this happens, you can always just reload the game and pick up where you left off thanks to the handy level codes. But something about these codes just doesn’t make sense to me. For instance, why does the code above have a pound sign in it? Are you trying to tell me that the programmers ran out of different codes using the numbers 1 to 5? Why not use all the numbers on the bloody keyboard, then? Mixing this stuff together makes as much sense as Glenn Beck on that TV show where takes acid.

What do you mean he’s not on acid?

Micro Riders is a scrappy, unfinished game that apes a similar title almost completely. Padlock Games are so brazen about it that they even have Max Dirt Bike on their website! That takes some serious amount of testicular fortitude right there. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that Micro Riders sucks.

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