|System: Wii, DS, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: inXile Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Genius Products||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Free flash games seem to be slowly creeping their way off of PC screens and onto retail shelves lately. For longtime freeware dabblers, being able to play favorite indie timewasters in an enhanced console or handheld format is a good thing. No longer will you be resigned to squeezing in a few quick sessions here and there during fleeting moments of freedom during the work day. Line Rider 2: Unbound is one of the latest freeware web games to get overhauled for a retail release. While the original was more of a physics toy than an actual game, inXile entertainment made sure to incorporate some solid gameplay in addition to the free-form nature of the original.
The first Line Rider let players doodle a medley of tracks across a blank canvass in order to send a little guy on a sled careening along for a wild ride (or his impending doom). A strong physics engine made for some highly entertaining jumps, tricks, and wipeouts. Users have taken the simple online toy to the next level with very elaborate courses that border on pure art. Still, if you loved the freedom of the original but found the lack of any substantive goals or objectives a little disappointing, rest assured theres plenty of puzzle challenges and unlockable content to explore in Line Rider 2: Unbound.
Transforming a game that was first based on a white page, a few black lines, and a teeny little 2D sledder into a flashy, marketable retail product is certainly no easy feat. Unfortunately, the process of making Unbound appealing to the all-ages crowd, rather than just freeware indie game enthusiasts, went horribly awry somewhere along the line. Unbound should succeed in holding the attention of younger gamers attracted to its cartoonish presentation, bombastic audio, and generic story, but all these elements will very likely grate on the nerves of older players who took delight in the simplicity of the freeware version.
For starters, the throwaway story leaves much to be desired. It follows a cookie cutter conflict between a typical dressed-in-white good guy, Bosh, whos consistently harassed by a generic, black-clad miscreant named Chaz. The two become sledding opponents competing for the affections of a Bailey a very pink girly girl. Completion of each tier of levels in the story mode results in a goofy cut-scene where Chad hatches some new lame trap to thwart Bosh that ultimately backfires. Though generally lame, these video cutscenes on the Wii are pleasantly colorful and vastly superior to the same ones found poorly condensed onto the handheld version. The game would have been perfectly fine without a tacked-on story, yet the developers likely felt they needed to put something in for the kids. It works fine in that regard. While the artistic style of the characters and video in Unbound are a little too saccharine, the remainder of the background environments in the story mode are nicely done.
Those seeking more of a challenge will find the actual gameplay in story mode is a welcome change of pace from the completely open-ended design of the original game. In each level, youre given a track with a starting point, a finishing line, and a portion of the infrastructure in between. Crucial chunks of the track are missing, and youll have free reign to use a series of unique drawing tools to fill in the blanks in an attempt to complete the track in a way that gets Bosh to stop safely within the end zone. You can only draw tracks within specific green zones laid out in key positions along the course. Choosing from different types of track that speed you up, slow you down, and have varying other effects also comes into play.