Longtime Mac game developer Freeverse has announced plans to become a major iPhone app publisher, with more than a dozen titles in the works due out by the end of September. At launch the company is offering a nifty racing game called Wingnuts Moto Racer.
Although the game carries the brand name of Freeverse’s popular homage to the classic arcade Time Pilot, Moto Racer has more in common with another classic game—Electronic Arts’ motorcycle racing game Road Rash. In Moto Racer, you hop on the back of a roaring motorcycle as you race across various landscapes, ranging from urban skylines to sandy beaches, forests to deserts.
You’re playing against the clock, using a “gas” button on-screen to accelerate as you bank your bike to the left and right by tilting the iPhone. Occasionally you’ll need to dodge a slow car or punch out a rival biker gang member who will try to unseat you—when the other bikers get close, a Punch button appears on screen that lets you take a swing. (But you have to take your thumb off the gas to do this—an awkward and non-intuitive control.)
You’ll unlock new courses as you win races; Moto Racer also saves where you are, so you can return to the same road from when you left (though you’ll have to restart the race). There is no pause feature, unfortunately.
Moto Racer certainly wins in the action department, and graphics are crisp and clean. It reminds me more than a bit of a Mac shareware favorite of mine—Danlab’s Jammin’ Racer ()—and it’s little wonder, since the guy who coded Moto Racer is the same Daniel Labriet.
The roads in Moto Racer are wide and it’s usually possible to see ahead far enough to anticipate what you need to do, but I still found the game’s controls to be a bit twitchy—I had a tough time keeping my bike on the pavement much of the time. You can dial down the difficulty, as well, which reduces the number of bad guys and cars on the road.
Still, Wingnuts Moto Racer is an excellent debut title from Freeverse, which promises us lots more iPhone and iPod touch fun to come.
Wingnuts Moto Racer is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.0 software update.
[Peter Cohen is a Macworld senior editor and Game Room columnist.]