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MotoHeroz preview: Don't let the 'z' turn you away


RedLynx's WiiWare racer MotoHeroz might as well be two separate games. In single player, it's a Trials-esque stunt racer with a cartoon style and bizarre, looping, interactive levels. And in multiplayer, it's Smash Bros. with trucks. Both modes use the same physics-based movement -- in fact, it's the physics that make multiplayer so wild.

Gallery: MotoHeroz (GDC 2011) | 28 Photos

In a nutshell, MotoHeroz can be understood as an even less realistic Trials HD, with more colorful levels and cartoon trucks. (And also not in HD, of course.) You have to control the speed and tilt (with the D-pad, not actual tilting, relax) of your truck to get over hills, loops and weird obstacles like land mines and breakable tracks. One-time-use power-ups allow you to jump, dash or engage another non-truck-like superpower to help reach the goal.

Oh, and sometimes the goals move around. In fact, in one track, the goal came loose and rolled around the track. This all fits into the Trials mold of a game that encourages repeated attempts in order to streamline and create a perfect run.

Local multiplayer takes that same gameplay -- running through hazardous, platformer-esque stages on the way to the goal (while trying not to turn over) -- and adds the complicating factor of other trucks getting in your way. While playing with RedLynx staffers, I drove over opponents several times; I bounced off of them; I knocked them into the goal; I had the goal knocked away from me; I was launched over like a ramp to make a shortcut; and I took advantage of a shortcut myself when the lead driver broke part of the floor. In short, total wackiness.

The utter chaos means that driving in the lead for most of the level won't guarantee you a win -- but in a funny, natural way, not through Mario Kart-style handicapping.

If you don't happen to have other heroz in your home, you can still engage in competition. MotoHeroz uses ghost data for its online multiplayer, allowing you to race against strangers' or friends' recorded runs. You can even set up "leagues" that allow you to track progress against a chosen group of players -- no friend codes required. These online races will take place on new tracks that RedLynx will continually add. The files are small, I was told, so the new tracks will just be there when you load up that mode.

RedLynx creative director Antti Ilvessuo said that MotoHeroz "has Nintendo all over it," which is why the developer designed it for the WiiWare platform. It's colorful, family-friendly, accessible, and kind of insane with friends -- sounds about right.

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