Picture the scene; you're an avid gamer, you're male and you're given the choice to review either Puzzle Game 4000 or the latest Motocross game. Which game did you go for? Of course it has to be the Motocross game, especially when the description has cool man-words like 'torque' and 'boost'! Motorama has to be great... doesn't it?
So what is Motorama then? The developer says it's a game allowing you to jump busses, ride and fly over mountains of dirt, leap over chasms, ride through loops, and get down and dirty. Sounds fantastic so far. Keep reading the website and you get to: "...control body weight placement and adjust the position of the bike based on the torque produced by the rear wheel". OK, I'm getting a little worried, and then I read: "Unlike racing simulations, Motorama features puzzle like gameplay...". Oh dear.
I might have been looking forward to some speedy Moto action but all is not lost with Motorama. The game centres around you getting your rider and bike from A to B whilst meeting certain criteria. Some levels are set to time limits, others have object collecting goals and some are simply marathon tracks asking only that you reach the end without killing yourself.
The game engine has a 2D sidewards view and gives you simple controls. You can accelerate, break, boost, flip and rotate your bike in order to meet the goals. The puzzle aspect of the game can be found in the terrain which is full of ramps, hills, ditches, jumps and more, all designed to stop you from keeping your foot on the gas.
Playing Motorama is a strange experience, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating. Early levels are fantastic as you get to boost over ramps and perform simple stunts (just for fun) all within easy level objectives. Your first boost up a mountain for example is a highlight that will bring smiles. Sadly though, progression through the game brings with it challenges that don't seem to fit with these early levels as you'll start to encounter terrain that requires precision bike control and more than a little luck.
I can appreciate that Motocross riding requires this expert control of your bike and that Motorama needs a hook to keep the player interested but I just couldn't get past the frustrations involved in finding the right speed and angle to get over each and every obstacle the game throws at you - I just gave up.
To be fair to developer IPlayAllday Studio, the game has its strengths that will appeal to a great many people. Graphics and audio are good, if a little static, and the game has an easy pick up and play appeal and a high number of levels and unlockables (new bikes etc). You can also compete in the online highscore table.
Besides the bias towards puzzle elements, I did enjoy much of my time with Motorama, especially when it came to performing stunts. One gripe that I do have is that the game can feel quite restrictive with the levels initially presented to you. You can create your own maps with the included map editor but a random terrain generator would have been a welcome addition, giving you the chance to play on your own terms without having to build the map beforehand.
A download of the demo will tell you everything you need to know about Motorama. If you like bikes and puzzles in equal measure, you should enjoy what Motorama has to offer. If the thought of precision landing scares you a little, then this probably isn't the game for you.
Keywords: motorama review, iplayallday studio reviews, iplayallday studio games, motorama scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.