In the world of video games, there are multiple visual styles that appear constantly.
You've got the black and white indie game, which is usually a platformer or puzzler, with a complex (and often obscure) message about the world to convey to the player.
There's the retro-themed title, shooting for 8-bit graphics, but missing the mark entirely due to rose-tinted spectacles.
But it's the third of these that Bike Rider DX utilises: the stick figure action game, often seen on Flash portals like Newgrounds and the like, and utilising the childish art style due to a lack of budget, talent, vision, or a combination of all three.
But don't be misled by its presentation, Bike Rider DX is a decent little auto-scroller that, though far from realising its full potential, is still an okay purchase to further fill the memory card in your 3DS.I wonder what the DX stands for?
The main offering is to be found in the World Tour. Here you'll attempt to make it to the end of each stage - each loosely themed on locales such as Paris, New Delhi, London, Beijing, and beyond - all the while collecting upto three coins per stage.
You do this by riding your little stick bicycle, with your little stick man, but the vehicle and character is irrelevant: this is an auto runner. Basically you can move left and right about the screen and jump (or double-jump) to avoid pitfalls.
Each change of location brings slightly different challenges. The Alps, for example, offers hill climbs and jagged terrain whereas Paris is comparatively flat.
Increasingly difficult terrain ensures that the further you get into the game, the harder it is to grab every coin in a stage. It's not essential to get every one of them on the first go, but you'll definitely want to go back and re-run stages.
A few additional items mix up the play a little. There are the ever-so small springs that catapult you into the air, cannons which fire you across the level but don't give a clear indication of where you'll land, fans which make you float momentarily, and so on. There are also power ups in the form of jewels, which transform your bike by adding jet boosters or an extra jump.
These extras spice things up, but technical issues ensure they feel more like additional elements of the track to memorise, rather than bonuses to exploit.On your bike
Actually it's these technical elements that let the whole package down.
I'm really tired of stick man art. I think it's a very rickety crutch that one person coding in Flash, after school, to cut their teeth on game development, can get away with. From a studio that can get published on the 3DS though, it's all a bit naff.
It's totally at odds with the soundtrack, which is super. It's a killer bit of up-tempo electronica, reminiscent of the 16-bit era.
There's an awards system in the game to commemorate achievements such as riding over a long distance, or completing certain levels, but none of it pops up on the screen when you've accomplished them, making for a dull plod through a couple of menus to check out whether you've completed one.
The stages are all pretty straightforward, even the Ram Rider mode, with its abstract neon levels. The 3D doesn't add much, and the camera occasionally doesn't follow the rider, leading to unfair deaths.
But the most glaring oversight is the lack of online leaderboards for the endurance-based, randomly generated Grand Prix mode. This could have been a really compelling mode, but without score sharing, its potency is greatly diminished.
Bike Rider DX is on the very cusp of receiving a hearty recommendation, but the uninspired design and limited feature set hold it back. If you ever see it in a sale though, and you like auto-runners, give it a shot.