Moto X Mayhem (iPhone/iPod)

Moto X Mayhem is one of those frustratingly simple games that drives you crazy until you master it. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long to master, but it’s a blast until you do.

In Moto X Mayhem, players must navigate a motorcycle over hills, through caverns and across chasms in a race against the clock. There are two islands for riders to blast through (Bear Island and Lost Island), each with their own types of terrain. The game is 2D; your bike is viewed from the side, in landscape mode.

Controlling your bike couldn’t be more intuitive. Gas is applied by touching any part of the right hand side of the screen using your right thumb; brakes are applied by touching the left, although as any true racing fan will tell you, brakes are mostly optional. Steering is not necessary, as you are constantly travelling across the screen from left to right — instead, you must control how far you lean. As jumps are made, you’ll need to lean either forwards or back to adjust to the proper landing angle. And yes, you can pull off both forward and backward flips by leaning really far. (No points for flips; they’re purely for style.) Additionally, players will need to lean forward to avoid falling backwards while climbing the steepest of hills. The game accepts two different control schemes: one involves steering the phone left and right like a steering wheel, the other is by looking down at the phone and tilting it left and right. I found the second control scheme much more responsive and easier to use.

Moto X Mayhem includes rag doll physics for your rider, which means each time you flip over backwards or land awkwardly your rider will be flung into the air and his arms and legs flop wildly. A humorous touch, you can actually use your finger to flick the rider to and fro and give him a good thrashing after each crash.

The game’s graphics are bright and colorful and the sounds, from your bike to the background ambient noise, is fantastic.

The game’s Achilles heel is its brevity. Almost every level can be beat in less than 20 seconds, and with 14 levels total, by the time you do the math you could have already beat the first half of the game. A couple of the levels have multiple paths, but other than that there’s very little replay value especially once you begin to memorize the layouts of each level.

Available for $1.99 via iTunes, Moto X Mayhem is well worth the money. I’ve been playing it off and on for a couple of weeks now, which is worth two bucks to me.

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