For a good mix of single player and multiplayer fun, the side-scrolling 2D racing game Bike Race Free for Android is awesome. Who needs fancy 3D rendering and complex controls when keeping it simple is so fun and addictive?
Whether you just want to get through all the levels by yourself or convince all your friends to download the app so that you can race them too, Bike Race Free will keep you entertained.
The controls are simple: touch the right side of the screen to move forward, touch the left side of the screen to brake, and tilt your device to rotate your bike. Will it have you flailing around like an idiot if you try to play in public? Yes. But it gives you a very precise control over your bike’s degree of tilt which is very important in the game.
All of the courses are made up of simple red lines, with the only thing changing from map pack to map pack is the background images. The goal of each level is to make it to the end alive. You’ll be given a star rating based on how quickly you complete the course, and you may just find yourself repeating certain levels for hours as you try to get 3 stars. Many of the courses towards the end are very challenging and require some creative finagling to complete, which brings the perfect balance of difficulty.
However, while there is a large number of courses that should keep you going for quite a while, I think that the best part of this game is the multiplayer mode. You can quickly and easily sign in with your Facebook profile, and then find your friends who have also downloaded the app and linked it to their Facebook.
Competing with your friends isn’t done in real time. You record a race and send it to them, then they race against your ghost, and send back another race. Think of it as Draw Something — an addictive game we’ve reviewed where you send drawings to friends — but with racing. This style of multiplayer also has its roots in some wonderful multiplayer word games that will make you an expert procrastinator.
Sound And Visuals
Few things on this planet are more annoying than the sound that your bike makes in this game. While racing, your bike revs up like it has a broken muffler filled with popcorn that clicks and pops incessantly as you accelerate. Unless you’re the type who enjoys the sound of nails scratching against a chalkboard, play the game with the volume muted. Even the music that plays on the main screen is creepy and boring.
Visually, however, I really enjoy the game’s 2D simplicity. You won’t be blown away by the graphics, that’s for sure, but you don’t need insanely good 3D graphics for a side-scrolling racer like this. That can be left to games like Offroad Legends, a side-scrolling 3D monster truck racer, that really takes advantage of graphics processing of modern smartphones. In Bike Race Free, all that happens is the background changes for every map pack, giving you a bit of visual cue as your progress through the game, and that’s a welcome addition.
Game Life And Value
While the single player mode has to end eventually, there is a large number of tracks, and they’re challenging enough to keep you at it for a while. Plus, even if you do get through all the maps, achieving 3 stars on every level is another challenge entirely, since it only takes 1 star to pass.
What really extends the life of this game, though, is the multiplayer. Long after I finished playing the single player mode, I continued to play with my friends. It’s surprisingly addicting, even for those who don’t generally play games on their smartphones or tablets. And since it is cross-platform, most of your friends should be able to play as well.
The game itself is free, but there are ads that display when you’re not in a race. Not that intrusive, but they can be removed for $0.99 in the in-game store. There are several other in-app purchases available, although their prices are so ridiculous that I can’t imagine why anyone would buy them. The Kids Mode bike goes for $12.99, Super Bike for $19.99, and Ultra Bike for $29.99. Thankfully, you don’t need any of these to get through the maps, they would just make it a lot easier.
There are other in-game unlockables, but those bikes seem to barely have any performance boost at all. I managed to make my way all the way up to the Silver Bike (on an older phone, which is why my screenshots make it seem like I’ve barely played — account info is stored locally, not synced), expecting some speed enhancement or something, but found myself performing at the same times as I had on the default starter bike. Still, having the achievements there does give you something to work towards.
What do you think of Bike Race Free? Any other side-scrolling racing games that you think deserve a mention?