Does Line Rider 2: Unbound represent the commercial death of a cool, free game?
I have to admit I was scandalised to find Line Rider being turned into a commercial DS, Wii and PC title.
If you've never come across it before, Line Rider is an internet toy originally created by Boštjan Cadež, a Slovenian university student, in September 2006. It quickly gathered a global cult following
And now it has an official website. Indeed, Line Rider has been Disneyfied all out of proportion from its simple yet addicting, school-project-posted-to-deviantart roots. Now all of the sudden YouTube's favourite sledder needs cut-scenes, puzzles, and unlockables. So is this yet another perfectly cool free game that suddenly needs to be paid for?
Perhaps. But let's take a closer look at Line Rider 2: Unbound. There is a story mode, perfect for people who like to collect tokens to unlock stuff. (The DS version is a little gimped in this respect anyhow, since in the other versions you eventually gain the ability to have more than one rider at a time.)
Each Line Rider 2: Unbound act is capped with 3-D animated cut-scenes and features a handful of levels where you'll have to conjure up missing track to collect targets (red tokens) and end up in the goal zone. Of course, since you're drawing, the game features heavy stylus usage. Moving the camera, though, is accomplished with the d-pad.
I can't be sure, but I would certainly hope that the PC version has a better zoom than the DS version does (with the Y and A buttons), although since PC players are probably on a 15in or bigger monitor, it may not even come up that you can't see so much of your drawing field. Lines can be drawn free hand or with a tool that lets you push and pull nodes to get a clean curve. You can also select and move sections of line, like in the original.
Not only can you draw a plain line, but in fact a variety of flavors of line are at your disposal. In the story mode, you get speedy red lines and braking yellow lines, but once you decide you can do without unlockables you'll find that Freestyle offers breakable lines (my personal favourite, as you can draw whatever you like and smash it to bits on your way to the next loop), trampoline lines, and lines that exist just to look pretty.
Freestyle, in fact, is the best part of the game. Could've been the only part of the game, as far as I'm concerned. The fact that you can also create puzzles to trade with friends is nifty, but it's the freestyle show-off stuff that made Line Rider famous in the first place.
This leads to my biggest complaint about Line Rider 2: Unbound, which is the line limit. Not only can you not just doodle to your heart's content, but when you get near the limit they post annoying signage all over the drawing field as a warning to be feared, and the help tips up top get replaced with messages that tell you to watch it, buster.
Tears were shed on principal (since the limit isn't absurdly low), and the liquid curved so well, that Bosh rode off the part of it that I drew in speedy red line and crashed through my other eye, drawn in orange breakables. Okay, I didn't actually do that, but you could if you wanted to, and send it to your friend, to boot. That is why this game is fun, that and the insane soundtrack (played on your command via the jukebox) that might actually warp your brain - maybe that's why this review is so silly - with its unexpectedly rad Moscow Circus track and obnoxious techno yodelling.
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