LocoCycle (Xbox One, 360)

LOCO_BOXSomewhere in Nicaragua, a corrupt weapons dealer company named Big Arms is showing off their latest creation to potential buyers: a pair of advanced artificial intelligence-infused motorcycles named I.R.I.S. and S.P.I.K.E. When a thunderstorm forces the presentation inside, a bolt of lightning zaps I.R.I.S. and before you can say “Johnny Five is Alive,” she becomes self-aware. So Big Arms agents wheel her into the garage and order Pablo, a Spanish-speaking mechanic, to fix her. Just as Pablo begins the repairs, a commercial about a Freedom Rally motorcycle convention blares on the TV, and I.R.I.S. decides she wants to go to it. Unfortunately for poor Pablo, his pants leg gets stuck in one of her back tires, and he gets dragged along, literally, for the ride. You’d think he’d be a mangled piece of meat after the first mile, but hey, this is just a silly video game so whatever. Join Pablo and I.R.I.S. as they escape the clutches of Big Arms and rival cycle S.P.I.K.E. in this action driving shooter game from Austin, TX based Twisted Pixel. Originally an Xbox One LIVE launch title, now you can download it on 360, too (which is the version this review is based on).

I.R.I.S. is pretty much what you’d get if Kitt from Knight Rider and GlaDOS from Portal had a baby. But the lightning strike fried her circuits and her language program malfunctions, so she misunderstands Pablo’s cries for help as he is dragged along behind her. Gameplay in LocoCycle is like a cross between OutRun and Spy Hunter, two classic arcade games from the 80’s. It reminds me of OutRun in that it has that arcade pick-up-and-play feel as you race around cars on a cross-country journey. But it’s also like Spy Hunter because you use machine guns and melee attacks to destroy Big Arms’ cars, trucks, helicopters, and even mechs!

Throughout most of the game, you’ll be driving along endless stretches of highway, dodging cars and using your machine guns to take out enemy vehicles. Very similar to the 3-D Spy Hunter games. But while the Spy Hunter remakes used every single button on the controller, this game simplifies things a bit. For starters, you’re always moving, there is no brake or gas. You can use a turbo boost to go faster for a bit, but that’s it. It’s ok, though, as you’ll never need to stop in this game.

Every so often you may encounter flying enemies or bad guys you can’t reach with your guns. This is when I.R.I.S. whips out her melee attacks. Yes, you can punch and smack bad guys around with your tires, handlebars, and even toss poor Pablo around like a boomerang. It is a little goofy, but then, this is a silly game. Try to string along attacks to get insanely high combos to boost your score.

Aside from driving, shooting, and melee attacks, every so often you may have to play a mini-game. You might have to do some quick time button presses, aim a cursor in a shooting gallery challenge, help Pablo fix I.R.I.S. when she breaks down, and there’s even a part of the game that spoofs one-on-one 2-D fighters! Every so often you may encounter a side mission. Complete these to earn extra points. Use you points at the end of each level to buy upgrades for I.R.I.S. and other unlockable goodies.

LocoCycle has some pretty high production values, too. There are a lot of live action cut-scenes with some pretty well-known actors and actresses here and there. For instance, S.P.I.K.E. the motorcycle is voiced by the same guy who played the liquid metal dude from Terminator 2! And the music was all performed by a famous orchestra in Prague!

There are a few problems with the game, but most of them didn’t bother me much. The game is a little short; I was able to beat it in only four days. You can revisit stages to try and beat your score and complete sub-missions you may have missed, but they could’ve put in other game modes to increase the replay value. I think an endless arcade survival mode would’ve been a good idea, especially considering the arcade-y nature of the gameplay. LocoCycle is also a little on the easy side, but I didn’t mind that because I’d rather play a game that’s easy and fun than one that is too difficult and frustrating. Some of the cut-scenes are a little long and silly (a motorcycle licks an ice cream cone in live action, for instance), but I like silly games so I didn’t mind that either. Really the only two problems I had with the game were that there was a little too many quick time events for my liking, and some of the mini-games were not as intuitive at first. Plus the game takes up 4 GB of hard drive space, and any game that huge should have a disc copy. But I’m just old fashioned that way (I’d love to have a disc collection of all of Twisted Pixel’s games, actually). But otherwise, LocoCycle is a fun little action game and if you enjoyed classics like Spy Hunter, you’re sure to enjoy this one, too. I’m glad they ported it to the 360 since I don’t have an Xbox One yet.


Kid Factor:

LocoCycle is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Violence, Language, and Suggestive Themes. You’ll shoot down evil agents, blow up cars, trucks, trains and mechs, smack bad guys around with handlebars and tires, and run them over pretty good sometimes, too. But there is no blood or grisly death scenes, and most of it is pretty cartoony and unrealistic anyway. Characters use bad language from time to time, and there are some scantily clad biker women and suggestive jokes, too. But this game reminded me of goofy PG-13 comedies from the 80’s and 90’s, so if you’re OK with your kid watching PG-13 movies, they might be OK with this game, too. It’s one of those ‘your mileage may vary’ kind of things.

Case in point: when my little brother Jeff was very young, I showed him Spy Hunter on one of my arcade game collections and he LOVED it. He would play it for hours, and also enjoyed the 3-D Spy Hunter remakes on the PS2 as well. It almost makes me wonder if Twisted Pixel went back in time, kidnapped little 8-year-old Jeff, and brought him to the future to help them come up with the idea for LocoCycle. If LocoCycle came out when Jeff was that age, I’d probably let him play it with supervision anyway since he loved Spy Hunter so much. Needless to say, Jeff really enjoys LocoCycle now, too.

I don’t know if some parents would be offended by Pablo’s character or not, since much of the humor revolves around him speaking Spanish and I.R.I.S. not being able to understand what he is saying. Some may feel it is racial stereotyping, but me, personally, I don’t think so. None of the jokes about that in the game felt mean-spirited or racist to me. In fact, I thought Pablo was pretty cool and he ended up being my favorite character in the game.

It’s a stretch, but LocoCycle could also be considered somewhat educational as well, especially if you have a budding video game maker in the family. There are TONS of unlockable videos, photos, concept art, and other insights as to how LocoCycle was made. Kids could read up on it and watch the videos to learn how this game was developed.

But if you feel your kids are too young for LocoCycle, don’t worry! There is another game Twisted Pixel made on Xbox LIVE for 360 that’s great for the whole family. It was their first game for 360, actually. It’s a 3-D platformer called The Maw, and it’s one of my favorite Xbox LIVE titles. In fact, I think the only LIVE games I like better than it are Castle Crashers and Pac-Man: Championship Edition. So I recommend downloading it if you haven’t already.

One Response to “LocoCycle (Xbox One, 360)”

  1. Reads like a lot of fun, I should keep this game in mind if I ever get a 360.

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