November 18, 2013
LocoCycle is funny. It's humorous in the most off-the-wall way imaginable, with tongue-in-cheek live-action cut-scenes that succeed in raising chuckles, and a core conceit that's utterly ludicrous. Twisted Pixel's latest is knowingly silly though, and deliriously enjoyable as a result. It's Road Rash on acid, but is also so much more than that glib summation suggests. LocoCycle is funny, but it's also batshit crazy.
You play as a top secret, high-tech sentient motorcycle called I.R.I.S. who's had her circuits frazzled and subsequently decides to embark upon a journey to find freedom on the open road, and the ultimate dream awaiting at the Scottsburg Freedom Rally. What follows is a mission to get as far away from her nefarious masters, the Big Arms Corporation, as possible. Snagging unwitting mechanic Pablo and taking him along for the ride without his consent, I.R.I.S. speeds along of her own accord, meaning you need only steer her, fire her cannons and unleash melee-based combos. Wait. What was that last bit? Melee combos? Yes, LocoCycle is also a button mashing brawler as well as a frantic on-rails race from A to B.
LocoCycle is a shooter, a beat 'em up, a racer and a multitude of other things. It's an 'insane 'em up', throwing all kinds of weirdness into the pot, concocting something that succeeds in being fresh, original and constantly surprising.
There's not really another game in recent memory that's anything like LocoCycle, a manic, relentlessly freewheeling race between QTE moments, insane melee combat, Spy Hunter-style vehicular pursuits and shooting, aerial bombardments, water-based shenanigans and more. LocoCycle certainly lives up to its name.
Framing the action are the live-action sequences featuring Freddy Rodriguez, James Gunn, Tom Savini and a supporting cast that's clearly having a whale of a time hamming it up. Only the most hard-hearted and humourless players will manage to watch with a stony face as James Gunn's villainous antagonist demands killer jet planes complete with decals depicting Rugrats and the cast of the Twilight movies. It's all nicely written and performed, making for a genuinely funny and entertaining experience.
And thankfully the random, always changing nature of the gameplay matches the rest of LocoCycle's boundless, manic energy, bouncing from one level to the next without letting up on the throttle.
There's a little depth to the proceedings too, with points and grades rewarded for combos, completing levels quickly and avoiding death. Any points earned at the end of each mission then feed into I.R.I.S.'s skill tree, enabling you to unlock upgrades and additional abilities.
You'll need all the help you can get too, as you beat up bad guys with your wheels, and throw Pablo around for multiple hits. Extra turbo, gun cooldown and durability keep I.R.I.S. speeding to her destination, as Big Arms goons strive to stop you by any means necessary. Men in black suits on stilts, Road Rasher bikers, jet packing maniacs, scientists in electrified hamster balls, mechs, dudes on skis, exploding little fellas... Big Arms will stop at nothing to get I.R.I.S. Back.
An unrelenting assault, LocoCycle will have you dodging and weaving through all manner of enemies and obstacles, as you cruise towards the inevitable showdown with I.R.I.S.' evil counterpart S.P.I.K.E., another high-tech motorcycle with its own passenger in tow. And then when it seems like LocoCycle is running out of ideas, sporadically recycling the same button-mashing stuff over and over, it chucks something else into the mix, grabbing your attention anew, keeping you hooked.
The achievements then, are largely of little concern, as they primarily involve going through the motions and completing the game's six multi-part missions. Achievements for fully pimping out I.R.I.S. and accumulating a 250-hit 'Bearded' combo or ridiculous 1000-hit combo streak are about as varied as it gets, which conspires to make LocoCycle's list fairly solid if a little unremarkable. Completing the game will grant you an excess of credits with which to unlock every single secret too.
A pleasant surprise, LocoCycle is another fine effort from Twisted Pixel that's not short on mirth-inducing ideas. It's a love letter to a thousand video games and movies, with a whole litany of knowing references that can't fail to raise a smile. It's not a particularly long game however, offering a good 4-5 hours of entertainment, and little in the way of replayability. Nonetheless, by the time it's all over, you'll probably have a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich.
Nasty compressed sound in the live-action cut-scenes doesn't do the game any favours, although the music and voice work is great stuff.
Not exactly pushing next-gen visuals to their limit, LocoCycle is nevertheless an aesthetically pleasing game, with a pleasant cartoon art style.
Enormous fun while it lasts, LocoCycle can occasionally descend into button-hammering tedium, though thankfully there's always something new just waiting around the next corner.
After one playthrough, you'll have probably exhausted almost everything LocoCycle has to offer. Unlockables might seduce you into playing again, but there's not really all that much to the game, unfortunately. It's short-lived, but fun.
An accomplished achievement list, but one that's had its values boosted from the standard 400G for Xbox 360 now that downloadable titles have 1000G on Xbox One. Play through once, and you'll have effortlessly unlocked a good 800 or so Gamerscore. And discovered all of the game's secrets.
Twisted Pixel demonstrates once again that it's a studio that not only produces good comedy, but is also one of Xbox's most reliable purveyors of joyful downloadable titles packed with character, charm and enjoyment by the bucket load. LocoCycle is unhinged madness, and impossible not to like. Grilled cheese sandwiches!!