Twisted Pixel has a reputation for comedic, screwball games, including the iconically weird 'Splosion Man and distinctive Kinect title The Gunstringer -- all titles developed using their in-house BEARD engine. The latest title from the studio tweaks its signature sense of humor and mixes in more refined gameplay concepts into a strong Xbox One launch title, LocoCycle. A chance to preview it came amidst the hordes of players in Microsoft's booth, and a couple of the developers gave me some context to the madness.
You play as a talking motorcycle (think KITT) named IRIS that knows some kind of martial art inspired loosely by Hornet from Sega's mid-1990s fighting game, Fighters Megamix. Note that you don't play as the driver. There is no driver. There is, however, a Mexican mechanic named Pablo who's stuck to the spoke of your rear wheel, and he's being dragged behind you as you race and fight to escape highly armed federal and military agents who are hell-bent on blowing you up. (How he survives this is something to Really Not Think About Too Hard, Please.) Pablo isn't just there as a source of highly panicked Spanish commentary to match IRIS' smooth, if slightly crazy, English banter. He's also a weapon who you can throw at vehicles to cause them to explode. (How he survives this and remains attached to the spoke of your rear wheel is, again, something to Really Not Think About Too Hard, Please.)
The actual gameplay of LocoCycle mixes Road Rash, OutRun, and God of War in surprisingly equal parts, alternating in core elements as you rush down long, winding roads. In the demo level, this centered around Arizona-style desert canyons and a military base suspiciously similar to Area 51. Sometimes, this involves evading objects dropped onto the road to avoid damage. Sometimes, this entails using quick swings of either wheel and/or Pablo to smack road-borne enemies off the road. Most humorously, this involves leaping into the air and using wheel-fu to smack aerial opponents around in a style reminiscent mostly ofGod of War. You use Pablo as a boomerang, and there's a counter mechanic that's similar to the one in Kingdom Hearts II. The demo also stopped the racing gameplay at one point as IRIS broke down, forcing Pablo to panic and repair her in a series of microgames while a semitruck approached.
This strange mix of gameplay seems to flow pretty seamlessly, resembling a classic arcade title more so than modern game designs. A consistent, tight control scheme certainly helps sell it, as does its constant 60 frames per second, decent voice acting and full subtitles for Pablo. The Xbox One's power adds several layers of graphical polish to the title's five worlds, only one of which was on display at E3. Each world will consist of several levels that clock in at about 10 minutes each. There is also a light progression element: Combos are counted up in a style like Devil May Cry, and long combos allow the player to upgrade IRIS. We didn't get to delve into how this works.
LocoCycle is scheduled for the Xbox One launch, and it'll come to the Xbox 360 soon after that. According to the developers, the only difference between the two versions will be visual fidelity.
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