Friday, July 13, 2012

Bounty Racer [The Quadsphere] - $1.99

The Quadsphere has been one of my favorite development teams since I got a 2nd gen Touch. Their awesome shmup, Icarus-X has always been one of my favorites, and FMX Riders is a great Motocross Racer. But after not really hearing anything from them for a while, I was surprised when their newest release, Bounty Racer, hit the AppStore. 

For those of you who have FMX Riders, you’ll be familiar with the menu setup and UI. It’s almost exactly the same. You have the option to flip the screen, which is great considering the game starts up-side-down, but unfortunately, this still leaves everything like pop-up notifications and GameCenter pop-ups at the bottom of the screen, which means that they wind up covering the controls, and can result in accidental game exits. 
The control set-up is also exactly the same, you can choose between auto and manual acceleration, as well as tilt, stick and button control schemes, with a tilt sensitivity option thrown in for good measure. The tilt controls work very well, as does the stick, though I prefer the button set-up, especially when playing on the iPad. Drifting is done easily by pressing the brake button while you’re turning. This, along with getting air from jumps and by using the environment, fills up your nitro gauge. Once it’s filled, you’re able to press the nitro button, and boost ahead. You’re also able to stack your boosts, which is fantastic. 

There are 3 gameplay modes to choose from; Single Player, Bounties and Multiplayer. The Single Player Mode gives you 4 separate leagues which you can choose from, Rookie, Pro, Master and Elite, though Rookie is the only league which is unlocked at first, and as you progress through the game, earning stars in each race, you’ll unlock the harder leagues. In each league, there are 6 tracks with 3 different types of races in each; Race, which is your typical race against 5 other AI characters, Collect, which gives you 60 seconds to collect as many stars on the track as you can. This is the only mode which you do not need to follow the typical track layout, and do not need to cross the finish line. Your only goal is to find and collect all the stars you can in 1 minute. Elimination is the last type of race, and this is your typical elimination mode. You’ll need to race the other AI characters, and try to never be in last place when you cross the finish line, or else the race is over. Each track has 9 available stars, with 3 for each type of race. 

In Bounty Mode, you’ll be able to race against other GameCenter players, trying to get the best time you can in each league’s track. Multiplayer is handled with GameCenter, and has auto-matching as well as the option to match up through your GC friend’s list. It allows up to 4 players to race each-other, and is probably where most of your time will be spent, after playing enough of the Single Player Mode to buy one bad-ass car in each league. Each race lets you save a replay, and you can also upload these replays directly to YouTube from inside the app, which is a great feature. I actually wish more games would allow for this to be done.
Every race has the potential to give you quite a few coins, and you can use these coins to purchase more karts. However, you’re only able to purchase karts which are available for that league, but this also means that as you progress through the game, better karts with better stats will become available to you. There are IAPs available for extra coins, but the pricing for the karts is great, needing to only go through about 5 races to get the best racer available in that league, but you can also buy a better-than-your-default-kart after the first race, so long as you come in first place. So basically, the IAP coins are there to help support the developers, if you so choose to. 

There are some additions which would have made the game a bit better, being able to hold it’s head high next to the top Kart Racers in the AppStore; Having a mini-map, or progression bar in the HUD would have been a fantastic addition. There have been so many times while playing when I wanted to know where the other racers were, or how close they were to me. I know there’s nitro boosters, but also having some sort of power-up or special item system would have made the game awesome, though it probably would have made it seem a little too kart racer-ish, I guess you could say, this is a Kart Racer, and without it, the gameplay just doesn’t seem as action-packed. 

Now, even though the player UI and menus are basically recycled from FMX Riders, there are quite a few iOS developers which do this, and it doesn’t really bother me. However, if it does bother you, you might want to keep that in mind when thinking about purchasing Bounty Racer. Being Universal and priced at $1.99, it’s a fantastic deal. There’s endless replay value, a wide array of karts, some great level design, very polished graphics, though not many animations or extra effects, like dirt, snow or water flying up, it’s still a very well made Kart Racer, with some great gameplay. If you liked FMX Riders, Bounty Racer is a game you’ll enjoy just as much, if not more so. The Bounty Mode does add some pretty competitive gameplay, and being able to upload your replays directly to YouTube is awesome, but if you’re looking for another Sonic type Racer, this isn’t really going to appease you. But if you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely a great game to have in your collection. 


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