Finland? Funland, more like! Or at least that is the impression you might have cultivated had you peered at my distinctly Nordic appointment schedule at the Game Developers Conference this month. For it was there I not only played charming gravity-based PSN platformer Rochard, but also received a riotous introduction to MotoHeroz - the latest game from Trials HD developer RedLynx.
Like Trials, which was excellent on the PC and then arguably even better in re-knitted Xbox Live Arcade threads, MotoHeroz is a 2D, side-scrolling racing game. You have to pilot a vehicle (in this case chosen from an array of colourful buggies) over, through and sometimes below obstacles to reach an end goal.
Every level in Trials was a very personal journey. Unlocking new content was cool, but you really wanted to beat your friends' leaderboard times. This meant keeping your obligations to both speed and control in perfect balance, usually by doing the same sequences over and over again with help from the instant-restart button. The fact the game tallied how many attempts each new score took to achieve was no coincidence.
The more enlightened (or those who had checked out easily downloadable replays) would then embellish these attempts with clever physics tricks, based on the ability to buck and rear in the saddle. And if you never played Trials and have been struggling to visualise what I'm on about, we have plenty of examples to check out in our videos section, although expect to say goodbye to 1200 Microsoft Points shortly after you watch them.
There are similar elements at work in WiiWare title MotoHeroz. For example, you may be in a buggy, but you can still effectively move back and forward in your car seat to change your pitch while airborne. Except you no longer have to restart when you hit your head or come unseated, because neither happens.
If you take a tumble, you just shake the Wiimote to right yourself. There are no checkpoints either, although solo-loving perfectionists can still instant-restart in search of a better time.
Instead MotoHeroz is more like a 2D platformer, with multiple routes through levels, power-ups to collect (like a speed boost, and a coiled spring that lets you bound over obstacles), and cute, simple graphics reminiscent of the livelier Worms games. Rather than the grungy warehouses and industrial settings, MotoHeroz goes for cheery ice and jungle levels with level furniture built out of vines, creepers and logs.
The campaign mode starts off merely asking you to get to the end, but before you make too much progress into its healthy bundle of 75 levels it wants you to compete with ghost cars to reach the end. Online, too, you can download ghosts. You can also form groups so that you can target specific friends' achievements.