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Bike or Die! by Szymon Ulatowski/Toyspring, Price: $14.95
Reviewed November 2004 by TerpKristin

For bike enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike, Bike or Die! is an original sports/arcade game for the Palm OS. With 25 challenging levels, an available custom level editor, and the ability to play the game on most Palm OS devices, the game offers a high amusement factor and great replay-ability for most users.

The premise of the game is simple: get all of the red flags then the checkered flag to move on to the next level. With realistic physics added to the simulation, this task, though, isn't so easy. Bike or Die! features smooth graphics, a variety of terrain-types, and many obstacles to keep you challenged. If competing against yourself to get the best time on each course isn't enough, you can record your performances and submit them to the Bike or Die! website. There, you can compete with others from around the world in time trial (fastest completion time of each level) and freestyle (a competition to do the best tricks while completing the level) competitions.

Control of your bike is done with the hard keys on your device. For newer devices, the 5-way directional pad may also be used to control how your bike moves. The control of the game is fully customizable so you can choose a set of controls that you feel most comfortable with. A nice feature added on is the ability to "lock out" the other keys. This feature makes sure you don't accidentally exit the game by hitting a non-game hard key while on your way to a personal best on the course.

The graphics, like the rest of the game, are fairly simple but customizable. When you first install the game, you can install the black & white only version, the low resolution color version, or the high resolution color version, depending on the capabilities of your device. In testing the game for this review, I installed the high resolution color version. In this version, you can change the color scheme (black & white or color) and choose the level of detail for the background (from minimalist detail just displaying the surface you're biking on to full textured detail of the terrain). You can also choose the color of your bike. Though the graphics are simple, their simplicity doesn't distract from the game at all.

Sound, as of version 1.2f, is limited to various effects as you pedal, touch flags, land from jumps and fall/die. They don't add much to the game, though they're not necessary to play it, either. In the end, if you want background music while you're gaming, Bike or Die! may be a disappointment.

Overall, Bike or Die! is a wonderfully entertaining game. It is fun to try and beat your best time for each level; the ability to submit your times and videos of your trials online is an added perk for more competition should you want it. Depending on how well you control the bike, each run through the levels can take as little as 10 seconds or up to a few minutes. This makes the game great if you've only got a few minutes free, but it is also highly addictive and you may find yourself playing for a half an hour or more at a time! Regardless of how often you play, each game is different depending on how well you control the bike each time. The available Level Editor is a useful tool to keep the game fresh-if you manage to set great records on every existing level, you can always go make your own.

Playing Hints and Tips

This game might be frustrating for beginners, because it can take awhile to get through the first few levels (as of this review, I'm only on level 4!). Keep playing, though, and you'll get it. The first few levels have tutorials built in so you can pick it up and learn to play pretty quickly. If you're still stuck on getting through levels, the developer's website has recordings of others going through each level (this is what gets submitted when you submit your best times and performances). Looking at the videos online of how other people completed the level can sometimes help you figure out how to get through it the first time.

 

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics They’re nothing to write home about, but that certainly doesn’t detract from the game.
Sound

Cute sound effects, but they don’t add anything to the experience. Personally, I usually play with the sound off (let’s face it, I’m often playing during class and the sound would be a dead giveaway that I wasn’t paying attention!).

Fun Meter

Every game is different and it’s always a challenge. For such a simple idea for a game, it’s surprisingly fulfilling to set a new record or to complete a level for the first time.

Addictivity

After playing the first time, I found myself consistently picking it up to try and “beat my last time.” I also had a friends who needed to remove it from his device because he was playing too much and not getting any work (or sleep) done.

 


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