Bike Mayhem 2 from Goldmark Studio is, at first glance, your run of the mill downhill racer. The indie catalogue is filled with these games, but although it doesn’t break from the core of these games, it does have some qualities that set it apart from the majority.
The aim of these downhill racers, is to navigate a predefined course in either the quickest time or with the highest trick score, and sometimes that is easier said than done.Not having played the first Bike Mayhem, I cannot say how much of the mechanics are new to the sequel, but there is certainly a lot going on beneath the surface contrary to what seems, externally, to be a very simple game.
Controlling your racer is straightforward, but mastering the tracks and earning the three stars requires either a great deal of skill, or the patience of a saint. Triggers accelerate and brake, tapping B pumps your bikers little legs for extra speed, A pulls off a bunny hop to get a bit of extra height, while the left stick leans your rider, and the right stick performs a plethora of well-known tricks. Combining all of these as you pedal through a roughshod course or traverse a ramp-lined hill is easy enough, but landing it is not. Your bike has a certain amount of impact it can take which is indicated in the top left, and exceeding this limit will cause you to crash.
Using the Bunny Hop or Pump abilities drain your energy and use too much and you find your rider slow down considerably, while being overeager with your tricks and rotations can find you with a rider that is pummeled into the ground in an amusing display of ragdoll physics.
Finding a balance between each of these aspects is the key to maximizing each level and to aid you in this measure the game also allows you to apply a limited number of boosts to your character. These range from increased speed or energy to doubling the score you achieve for successfully pulling off tricks.
The single player campaign is spread across 5 levels, each with 6 stages that are either beat the clock or beat the score in nature and this is the games biggest downfall. After the first few stages the levels become extremely repetitive, and although the difficulty does ramp up, (no pun intended), it comes off as more frustrating than exhilarating.
The other modes are also somewhat of a mixed bag. The online head to head mode where you either race or trick your way to the finish line against other gamers, is enjoyable but again becomes repetitive after a short time, while the complex and regrettably unintuitive “build your own map” mechanics that have been included are difficult to grasp, but allow you the instant gratification of playing on a map of your own design the instant you complete it.
Aesthetically, especially for an indie game, Bike Mayhem 2 has outstanding visuals and audio, with plumes of dust spewing off your tires as you cycle along against beautifully rendered outdoor environments and the familiar rasp a bike makes as its put under stress enhances the elegant design.
As you progress through the game, you will unlock further customization, but for all my testing I could not see any benefit to the plethora of frames, wheels, shirts and helmets you unlock other than purely to give you a decorative individuality to your racer.
Thanks to Xbox and Goldmark Studios for supporting TiX