When I first booted up Bike Rider DX2: Galaxy I didn’t have high hopes; It’d already wrote it off as another on the rails platformer that wouldn’t keep my interest for long. Alas, ten minutes in and I was swayed and Galaxy had taught me a lesson. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it will reflect in the quality; this is an addictive, gorgeous and challenging skill test that takes you cycling to the stars.
Each stage is themed with a different star sign, starting with Taurus and ending with Leo, totalling twelve altogether with a total of five levels per stage. The game scrolls along while you do your best to avoid incoming obstacles, with the aim to reach the flag at the end. Levels are short but the perfect length to make this casual game just the right amount of challenging. The game is entirely reliant on the A button and the D pad to commit all your actions, so it’s incredibly simple to master the basics. The auto-scroll screen brings all your obstacles to you, forcing your tiny cyclist to jump across chasms and enemies, with a swift press of the A button to propel you into the air. Hitting it a second or third time will see you go even further up, while using the D pad allows the player to position themselves.
After a couple of levels of doing basic jumps, the game throws a curveball in the shape of a little diamond; a power-up. Grabbing this allows our unlikely hero to go headfirst into any bricks blocking the way, giving you a new sense of power as you smash through these once problematic blockages. Other power ups include a pair of blue wings that let you flap your way to hard to reach destinations and a propeller that turns you into a mini helicopter. All these little moments are great fun and help get through some tough instances when your normal jump just doesn’t cut it.
Each level has three gold coins scattered about for you to collect which help further your progress and unlock special stages. Some, even in later levels are very straightforward to get a hold of but others take perfectly timed jumps and manoeuvres to finally grab. Gathering all three gold coins as well as leaving the D-Pad alone throughout each level will give the player a little gold crown, which while it doesn’t have any effect on the game it gives completionists something to aim for when they fancy an extra challenge.
You’ll feel like a pro during the first couple of levels of Galaxy, mastering the art of the jump to grab those all-important gold stars with ease, but the further you get the more the challenges intensify. Later worlds see you dodging boulders and avoiding rogue cyclists, while other levels see you frantically trying to stay in the air avoiding incoming birds. Sometimes power ups are also a burden so it’s best to know when you need to pick them up and when to stay clear. The frog suit in particular is frustrating to use as it turns your normal jump into a charged leap into the air that is quite difficult to master, so sometimes you’re better off staying well away.
Visually the game is gorgeous and each stages theme flows through wonderfully. Scorpius is a land filled with poisonous gas clouds to avoid, while Pisces is a ridiculously charming adventure full of cute underwater life. A standout feature is also the soundtrack which hosts a different track for each of its varied stages that suit the atmosphere of each one down to a tea. One minor gripe is that some of the cute stuff that fill the levels sometimes look like obstacles, so while you’re attempting to avoid a friendly cactus you really should have been looking out for the chasm coming your way instead. It would have been nice to have these set pieces move to the background when you turn the 3D on similar to other titles but instead they can be an unwanted distraction. Once you play a level a few times though you know what to look out for and it’s still one of the most pro fessional experiences you can get for such a good price off the eShop.
The game offers plenty of replay value, and even when you’ve collected all the coins and completed the basic stages there’s still loads to keep you going. A Grand Prix mode lets you see how long you can keep going for that offers a challenge for both casual and competitive gamers, and you can even see how well you’re doing compared to the rest of the world on the online ranking system. There’s also a couple of DLC stages available on the marketplace (including one free one) which cost next to nothing and I recommend investing in if you fall in love with Galaxy like I have.
Bike Rider DX2 is a hidden gem amongst a wealth of similar titles on the bloated Nintendo eShop. It’s short lived, but with plenty of replay value and bang for your buck it’s up there with some of the best casual games of recent years and easily competes with games developed by much bigger studios.
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