This past Friday we went hands-on with Mad Skills Motocross from Turborilla and Racer X Online, and as of today the game is now available in the App Store. Mad Skills Motocross [$1.99] is a 2D side-scrolling motocross game, somewhat similar to the classic Excitebike but with enhanced visuals and an absolutely brilliant physics system. It lacks a couple of features that we've seen implemented in similar titles over the years, namely real-time online play and a level editor, but makes up for it by being fast, smooth, challenging, and above all else a total blast to play.

The controls in Mad Skills Motocross are simple, with gas and break buttons on the left and buttons to lean forwards or backwards on the right. Additionally you have the option of flipping the position of these controls or using the accelerometer for tilting. You can perform various tricks on your bike as well, like front flips, back flips, wheelies, and stoppies. There are also a number of special moves for your bike that you will gain through playing, like a vertical jump or a nitro boost. Utilizing your entire suite of abilities is essential to performing well in the game.

The meat of Mad Skills Motocross is the Career mode which features a whopping 52 tracks spread across 5 increasingly difficult racing divisions. Levels start out modest enough, and ease you into the basics of jumping, racing, and tricking. But fairly quickly the difficulty ramps up, and it will be a true test of your skills to win out against the AI controlled opponent in order to complete all of the available levels. Thankfully, there are always a few levels unlocked at a time, so if you get stuck on a particularly challenging race you can skip it for the time being and play a later one.

Besides the Career mode, there is also a robust Time Attack mode. Here the top 5 best times are saved from each individual track, along with full replays for each one. You can choose to “attack” any of these times and compete against your own ghost in an effort to improve that time. You can also send a challenge through OpenFeint for any of these times to see if one of your buddies is able to defeat your ghost racer. OpenFeint also includes achievements as well as leaderboards for every track, which is perfectly suited for this type of game.

All of these features come together really well in Mad Skills Motocross, and the whole experience is heightened by the wonderful physics system. The most subtle nuances of how you take off or land when jumping can affect your overall performance, and this is the type of game where you will replay a level over and over again just to get that “perfect run” and shave tenths of a second from your time. It just feels so fluid to lean far back on your bike and pick up speed, lurch forward as you launch from a jump and then land smoothly down the other side. There's a real rhythm to racing that is very satisfying to learn and try to master.

The simplest way I can put it is that Mad Skills Motocross is pure fun. While it doesn't have real-time online multiplayer like the similar iOS game Motocross Challenge [99¢/Lite], the OpenFeint challenge system is a good substitute and actually might be a better fit for gaming on the go. The desktop version of Mad Skills Motocross features a level editor, and although that didn't make it into the iOS version of the game, the developers are keen on finding a way to squeeze that in sometime in the future if possible. With the 52 tracks in the game, there is no lack in variety of places to race even without an editor, although it would be a cool feature to have.

Impressions from players in our forums are overwhelmingly positive, and if you're in the market for a fast-paced arcade-style racing game it doesn't get much better than Mad Skills Motocross.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://raltech.ro Motoare Electrice

    Great game, and a very good review!

  • swarmster

    Looks nice, especially being universal. Seems weird that there's no Game Center, but I'll probably end up getting it.

    • Anonymous

      Someone mentioned last week this was due to Game Center's limit of 25 leaderboards per app, and this game has 52 levels each with its own leaderboard...still, I'm with you, and would love to see even a "total" leaderboard in GC, as well as achievements :)

  • EastsideStompers

    Tight controls, simple but satisfying to look at and challenging AI. Really having a lot of fun with this. Also, embarrassed to admit it, but it reminds of the one and only time I rode a motor bike, and it was one of those ones for children (I was already about 17 by then). I pulled back on the accelerator and wheelied straight into the bushes....I think I'll stick to the game from now on...

  • Spidey

    Cool icon!

  • BazookaTime

    As a Universal game, I am surprised how poorly placed the buttons are. Great review but it would be helpful to future buyers to mention the iPad controls or show a picture of them.

  • Bob

    Bought this on my Mac about a year ago, super fun, although eventually it just becomes too hard. Great physics, and the groans when you crash are hilarious, even if they aren't meant to be.

  • GiHubb

    I think I'll wait until it gets online multiplayer. For a game like this, is seems like a must for me.

  • WildWayz

    Hmmmm been playing this on and off for the last 24hrs - probably in 10min slots... it is fun but I think I suck.
    Got gold stars on all tracks on Div 5 apart from the last track as I suck!
    Need to gold star it to unlock div 4!

    • EastsideStompers

      I consider myself somewhat of a dab hand at this game now (just don't get me on a real bike; ). I think you mean 'Into the Black' on Division 4 (there isn't a Division 5). Two tips:
      Hit the gas on the second to last starting light.
      Lean back just after you have picked up some speed (not too early or you'll do a weelie). Do this anywhere you have a straight patch.

      That should get you some distance from the AI. Good luck: )

      • GiHubb

        Another tip I found useful: just after you jump, lean forward to extend the jump a bit and then level back by leaning back. When you get into a rhythm, it's very effective. It's not really a tip as it's a technique you MUST use I think. Also you can lean way forward on the big jumps so your head looks straight at the ground and hit the jump boost powerup but this is more of an advanced tip and isn't really necessary here.

  • Tonkyflaps

    Finally a good game review...

  • stich

    Really good game!!!

  • http://twitter.com/sicmx SicMX

    This game is amazing, and the difficulty level is perfect! Especially like the Turbocharged tracks (still got one to win!)

    Wish there was Game Center support though...

Mad Skills Motocross Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4