Don’t get me wrong, I love massive in-depth iOS games as much as the next guy, but it never ceases to amaze me how the simplest games can have such a crazy appeal on the iPhone. Lane Splitter [99¢] is a game of, as you may have guessed, lane splitting. You know those jerks on crotch rockets that come flying down the highway going twice as fast as you are in your car? That’s you in this game.
You steer your bike using familiar tilt controls, and earn a score based both on how many cars you pass as well as how long you ride. Touching and holding the screen makes your rider do a wheelie, which not only speeds you up, but also offers a sort of rolling bonus score for each car you pass. The catch? Riding a wheelie makes controlling the motorcycle substantially more difficult. Cars change lanes as well (oddly enough, they also use their turn signals to do this) so even if you’ve got a straight path to ride a wheelie you still need to keep an eye out for fellow motorists.
Like most (all?) of these kinds of endless high scoring avoidance games, things start out slow and simple with only a few cars. The longer you ride, the faster your bike goes and the more traffic increases which obviously not only ramps up the difficulty, but also your score. On your ride you’ll travel through multiple locales, which don’t seem to make any difference in gameplay aside from just changing the scenery once in a while.
I’ve been having a strange amount of fun playing, crashing, and replaying Lane Splitter recently. There’s no doubt that the game is basic, but it’s got the ingredients for a great 99¢ time waster: Good controls, a fun gameplay premise, and online leaderboards. It’s even universal which is always a bonus for those of us with both an iPhone and iPad.
Sure, there’s room for improvement. I’d love it if there was more variation in scoring, or if there were jumps or other obstacles besides traffic. Also, while you can see and compete in the overall leaderboards without it, getting any kind of list of your friends’ high scores requires Facebook which isn’t appealing to anyone who likes to keep their gaming lives and personal lives separate. (¡Viva la Game Center!) Fortunately, none of these things have stopped me from having a blast with the game, but I’ve definitely got my fingers crossed for updates.