Your brow is beaded with sweat, your pulse races, pupils dilated. Are you being chased down a dark alley by a menacing figure? Possibly, but that wouldn't
quite explain the aching thumbs and numb legs. Nope. Instead you suddenly realize that you have just spent a solid half hour sitting on the toilet,
crushing your iPhone's touchscreen while playing the latest version of one of the most addictive racing games ever made: Mad Skills Motocross 2.
A few years ago, app maker, Turborilla, introduced their first entry into the game app market, Mad Skills Motocross. The original version took the
side-scrolling Excite Bike-style MX game, smoothed out the game play, and optimized it for smartphones and tablets. While the game physics were far more
realistic than just about any side-scrolling moto game up to that point (aside from the little known '90s PC game, Dirt Bike), they went a little too far
with the arcade gameplay. Turbo boosters, bikes with airplane wings and rocket boots were fun for about 1.5 seconds. After that, it got old. Motocross
dudes want something that supplements their lack of talent on a real track, not a game that literally turns them into superheroes.
So, as updates were made to Mad Skills Motocross 1.0, more and more realistic tracks were added, and downloads of the game increased. Eventually a highly
popular tournament was introduced that pitted 20,000-plus players against each other on one new track each week. The racing was vicious and insanely
addictive (players ranking in the top 100 average about 1,000 attempts on each track...in one week!). One of the problems was that after the first
tournament, one user, Master52, somehow managed to win 95 percent of the individual tracks and 100 percent of the overall wins. On that subject, I think I
can speak for the rest of the MSM players when I say, "Damn you, Master52... damn you!"
Just like with anything on a smartphone, things get old pretty fast, and considering that the original version of Mad Skills was around for about three
years, that's a pretty good run. But times they are a changin'.
Now, with the long-anticipated Mad Skills Motocross 2 (released on February 20 for iOS and Android) the graphics are better, the jumps bigger, the bikes
and riders more customizable, the terrain more realistic, and the tracks more... um... awesomer.
While some of the innocence of the original has been lost in terms of graphics simplicity, backgrounds and options, the gameplay is very similar.
Maintaining a wheelie does not seem to be quite as crucial as it once was, and starts are no longer timed (just tap green the accelerator button, and the
gate drops). But with the new, upgradeable machinery, there also seems to be increased subtlety in the motorcycles movements in relation to the suspension
and rider position. In short, it will take a little longer to master the game, and I'm hoping the same goes for that thumb-twiddling Master52.
Tuborilla recognized the popularity of the tournament so they added a weekly contest called JAM. It's essentially the same idea as the original tournaments
but with slightly more expanded features, utilizing two tracks per week plus regional leader boards. Furthermore, players can now follow the progress of
their other hunched-over, numb-legged Facebook friends and compete directly against their times. Once you've realized that Master52 simply cannot be beat
(seriously, the dude has freakishly deft thumbs), the next best thing is competing against your buddies. So far, this is my favorite new feature for MSM2.
Other new goodies include the option to add your own racing number to the side plates of your bike (a cool addition for anyone who rides or races real dirt
bikes), upgradeable equipment, and of course, 36 different tracks with more to come in the future.
While I don't really like the new start feature, which doesn't require any timing (a crucial part of the game and tournament in the original MSM), just
about every other aspect of the new version is an improvement. If you're in the market for a new game app, have a long flight ahead of you, or just have a
strong desire to waste countless hours on your way to developing an acute case of carpal tunnel syndrome, Mad Skills Motocross 2 is well worth the free download.
Check it out at www.madskillsmx.com.