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Which game are you looking forward to the most?

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Game Profile
King Games
Blitz Games
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-4
November 19, 2006
Burger King Kinect Game

Big Bumpin'

Sneak King

 Written by Joe Comunale  on December 14, 2006

Review: The racing part is ehh? the ?smack your opponent right off the track? part is yeah!

Long past are the days when you get a small, usually cheap toy when you hit up your local fast foot chain. Actually, that isn't quite the case. But Burger King did up the ante with a new line of games. Pay a little more than you would for an Xbox Live Arcade game, and you can bring home one of three games starring Burger King's laughable mascot with your next value meal. From the commercials, Pocketbike Racer initially poses as the most colorful of the three, but the fun factor is almost as short-lived as its racing laps.

The premise isn't entirely bad, but the execution is a different story. Handling up to four players, you can choose bikes from the 50, 100, and 150cc classes. The bikes are unique in handling, speed, and acceleration, but not the riders. So you could select Whopper Jr. and burn rubber just the same as you would with, say, S. Chicken. The King, of course, is also a featured rider, as well as Brooke Burke and a few fictional humanoids. The ?create character? option, however, is no more than a misnomer. In fact, dubbing the feature ?edit character? would even be somewhat of a stretch, as all you can do is change the colors of the existing racers. A ?color editor,? shall we say?

Once you fit yourself with a rider and bike, you take the action to the mean streets of L.A.--well, not quite. Actually, a construction site, suburban area, garden, parking lot, and extremely colorful fantasy ranch sum up the available venues. You can vie against the competition in a number of modes, from your standard race to a free-for-all destruction derby. The AI will give you stiff competition, too. Free ride is to scope everything out, and when you get the hang of it all you can earn new bikes by entering tournaments. The race venues are diverse in color and context, but the actual tracks are so short that you can complete a five lap race in roughly a minute. And with only 5 available tracks, racing becomes a drag--not a drag race, just drag. If any consolation, the tracks offer multiple routes throughout, but even so, the standard race falls flat.

No matter the mode, the cones strewn throughout are normally the main focus. In standard mode, weaving between cones gives you energy for a speed boost, which you can even use around certain turns thanks to the power slide and solid handling of each racer. Zip past the competition and you can even taunt them in glory. In ultimate cone trial, being the forefront racer isn't necessarily as important as is flying between as many cone groups as possible. While these modes offer momentary appeal, the real fun is found in the Mario Kart-esque battle royale. Here, placing first or last is irrelevant, as the goal is to off other racers. The more cone groups you make it between, the more your attack meter grows. There are icons all across the meter indicating your earned attack, including missile-like projectiles, impenetrable shields, and lighting bolts. Naturally, the more powerful attacks are toward the top,

The textures in Pocketbike Racing compete with their two contemporaries, and the vibrant designs should have no trouble appealing to the younger audience. The tracks offer decent variety in theme and structure, and it's hard not to get a good kick out of watching a Whopper Jr. cruise by on a 150cc bike. King's cape impressively flaps in the wind as he zips by on his bike, but the humanoids could use more detail, and personality for that matter. And the excessively long load times are unbearable considering the visuals don't take advantage of either system's potential. The soundtrack is decent, composed of your basic rock riffs--some of which are better quality than others. But apart from background music, little else fills the airwaves, making races, aside from your occasional wipeout, extremely empty in sound.

Bottom Line
Battle royale effectively spruces up an otherwise dull game, but even this mode isn't an ultimate savior. The bikes control smoothly, which is great considering that you'll fall right off the track in some areas if you don't properly hit the turn, and the button layout is simple enough that it theoretically could even be mapped to the archaic NES controller, making it readily accessible to casual adults and the same age group that eats kid's meals. Sadly, the game lacks a certain addictive element found in similar simplistic titles. It isn't completely unplayable by any stretch, though, and the little ones may get a few kicks out of the multiplayer mode. Considering the price tag, it's not a complete rip off either. But the fun in Pocketbike Racer is short lived, which makes this one a decent choice only after you already pick up Big Bumpin' and Sneak King.

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