After seeing Twisted Pixel's LocoCycle at multiple trade shows in the past, we were finally able to go hands-on with the game on the Xbox One. It's going to be a downloadable launch title when Microsoft's new console is released, with an Xbox 360 release to follow some time later.
So how's the game? Fun! It's got the charm that makes all Twisted Pixel games enjoyable.
You control the sentient bike I.R.I.S. along with Pablo, a mechanic that's stuck to I.R.I.S.'s rear. So as you drive through levels, poor Pablo is getting dragged around on the ground against his will, and even gets used as a weapon!
I.R.I.S. can fire bullets from her front, punch folks with her tires, and throw around Pablo as a projectile. Levels are pretty linear and you're always automatically moving forward at high speeds. Plus you have a turbo button, and you'll be able to get upgraded abilities as you progress through the game.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward. Fight bad dudes all while avoiding their attacks. LocoCycle is pretty forgiving, and dying will merely restart you back before a fight with a particular group. Some enemies will come at you via ground vehicles, and will use machine guns, throw bombs, or shoot rockets at you. Then there are flying enemies that will see I.R.I.S. and Pablo jumping into the air to attack these enemy types.
For ground enemies, I was merely using my machine guns to whittle down foes. While it has a very Spy Hunter feel, the real fun is when you engage air enemies. Here you'll be juggling enemies in a similar fashion to something like the Batman Arkham games, using a good assortment of melee and projectile attacks, all while racking up combo points like this was a fighting game. You'll be alerted when an enemy is about to strike and potentially breaking your combo streak, but attack them just in time and you'll pull off a counter move.
There are a few instances where you have to nail your counter attack at the right moment, otherwise it'll cause an insta-death. There were only two of these moments that I saw, and again the game is pretty forgiving so you'll be put back right before one of these instances if you die.
Fighting is fun, but I did feel each encounter kind of dragged on for a little too long, both the ground and air combat. Every enemy has a health meter that you have to whittle down, and it was usually around the halfway point of lowering someone's health that I felt they should have died already. Granted, players are supposed to be upgraded more at the point in the demo level I went hands-on with.
Still, I had fun and laughed a whole bunch at the absurd story. Twisted Pixel are always able to tell some pretty enjoyable and funny stories, and I'm looking forward forward to seeing more of this game. That, and learning how Pablo can't die from getting dragged around and used as a weapon.
Azure Striker out next month in Japan, working on North American release parity
4:30 PM on 07.22.2014