What started out as a free Flash game has just been given the console treatment with hopes to earn a few bucks.
From the game’s cover, it can probably be assumed that Line Rider 2 is some type of skiing game (I was envisioning a newer version of Ski Free). It is a skiing game, but the player will never put on a pair of virtual skis. Instead, it is up to the player to guide a skier named Bosh from Point A to Point B by drawing in parts of a 2D side scrolling track, thus putting this game in the puzzle genre as opposed to calling it a sports game. But there is a one major difference between this sequel and the original Flash based game; the player actually has a goal whereas the original gave users a way to express their skiing creativity by simply creating custom tracks.
Before Bosh hits the slopes, the player must draw lines with the stylus, granting a passageway to reach the end of the stage. The meat of the level will already be drawn-in, but all the critical sections will be left up to the players. Things like jumps, ramps, and even loops will all be in the player’s hands.
The game runs at a very smooth frame rate, but there are many times when the gameplay seems too touchy. The smallest bump can cause the rider to fall off track, flip upside down, or lose his skis. Without any question, this game requires a tremendous amount of trial and error. Patient players will probably face frustration too, even within the earlier stages of the games. Yes, the frustration will want to make you throw your DS out the window, but it is also quite satisfying when a track is solved. It is a major shame, however, that there is no way to save your replay. Some tracks could literally take hours to solve so saving your hard work would prove to be a little more satisfying. Once the rider makes it to the finish, the game immediately transports the player to the next stage…you don’t even get to see an automatic replay.
Story Mode will definitely test the patience of every player. But if you are looking for something a more easy-going and a little more reminiscent of the original game, then the Freestyle Mode is a great alternative. The game starts with the rider simply falling out of the sky. Using the editing tools in real time, the player can draw hills, loops, and jumps at will to make the rider do your bidding. Customized tracks can also be created, traded, and downloaded through the Nintendo WiFi Connection. This mode definitely gives this title extra legs and fans of this game will be logging on often to see what fellow community members have been creating.
One of the biggest problems with this game is actually drawing the lines themselves. Like using the Line Tool in Photoshop, the player simply draws a line. Once the line is drawn, the player can them edit the size, length, and pitch of it by stabbing anchor points. But because this game requires so much trial and error, the player will be tweaking lines over and over again. It is unfortunate the game’s tools are a little cumbersome and basically can become a chore. Once a line is drawn and the anchor points are set, there is no way to go back and re-edit this same line. Instead, the player must select the eraser tool, rub over the entire line, select the line tool, and start all over again. Once a line is deselected, there is no way to go back and make changes to it. This is a major pain considering that the slightest bump can make or break a level.
The game does a terrible job of explaining the controls through both the crappy in-game tutorial and the instruction manual. There is a pretty steep learning curve when you first pop this game into your system. Yes, the player will gain comfort with the game’s user interface with time, but selecting and using tools, even after experimenting for hours, isn’t the most efficient process.
Another problem with this game is the inconsistent physics. Many times the skier traveled right through, over, or under a drawn line. Also, because the physics engine is a little on the touchy side, a small hill can make the skier flip upside down in one level, but be perfectly fine the next. The minor details are so crucial to the success of each level, that it is enough to drive players insane.
But this could also be seen as a blessing. Some players will definitely welcome the challenge of the trial and error nature of the game while other players might simply want to stay away. But the Freestyle and WiFi downloading options are a blast to play at the casual level. Booting up this game once a week could warrant a bunch of new downloadable user created content.
It is almost as if the developers knew they were creating a difficult game because they give you an option to change the game’s music at any time during gameplay. Instead of listening to the same song over and over when you are stuck on the same level for an hour, the player can quickly and easily change the musical track with just a few taps of the stylus, or you can turn off the tunes altogether. This is a part of the game’s overall presentation. Even though the story mode’s FMVs are compressed a little on the heavier side, it is still a treat to watch and let’s gamers know that this game was created with some thought and effort behind it.
Line Rider 2 has something for everyone, but the game’s main story mode is quite demanding. Getting the hang of the user interface will take some time, but become more comfortable the more time you spend with it. Solving each stage gives the player a huge sense of accomplishment but it is unfortunate that there is no option to save your perfected track. That option is designated for the WiFi mode of the game, where custom tracks can be created, uploaded, and downloaded. Line Rider 2 provides a unique amount of entertainment value on the DS and is worth checking out. Just be aware of this game’s high difficulty level. Check out the web’s free Flash version to get a taste of what this sequel holds.