Craneballs Studios’ 4th title, Monorace, is an addictive 2D side-scrolling racing game that flirts with the laws of gravity. The game features a simple, single button (or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say single tap) control scheme. You man the driver’s seat of a single-wheeled vehicle called a Monobike, which is capable of driving on either the floor or the ceiling. As your Monobike races forward along the track you just tap the screen to swap the bike’s polarity, which in turn causes your vehicle to jump to the nearest surface no matter if it means you’ll be driving with the top or bottom of your bike. The goal is simply to make it to the end of the track as quickly as possible whilst avoiding an onslaught of rapidly approaching obstacles. These hazards range from track outcroppings, holes in the track, spike pits or even stretches where this is no ceiling or there is no floor. If you hit an obstacle it will cost you some precious time (or worse).
The key to a successful run is airtime and staying toward the right side of the screen. While your bike is riding on either the ground or ceiling, there is a little bit of drag slowing you down. You start off in the center of the screen and each time you hit an obstacle, the resulting delay pushes your bike a little bit to the left. The farther left you are, the slower your bike will move. In order to lay down those really fast times, you need to pick up speed, which means keeping your Monobike off the track as much as possible, thereby reducing the friction and increasing the overall speed of your craft. If you get too far left, then your best bet is to ride over special “speed up” sections of the track or grab some clock pickups to reduce your final runtime by 0.1 seconds (each).
Before the race you must select a rider from the game’s three characters Big D., Jane and Gus. While they do not have any special abilities or traits which make one rider better than another, each does have a unique voice. The tracks are spread across 5 different themes which all look quite nice and offer a little bit of variety in scenery (not that you’ll really have time to take it in). The game’s included music tracks fit well with the theme of the game and will help you psyched up for the race.
Monorace’s OpenFeint support means that you can see how your race times stack up against your friends as well as send your best time(s) to your buddies with OpenFeint’s challenge request system and on the main menu screen you are presented with a tally of your challenge wins and losses.
Players can select from two different game modes, Career and Endless the former of which has two difficulty settings. Both of Careers mode’s difficulty options contain the same set of 40 unlockable tracks, but the speed of Racer is much faster. While the Beginner difficulty will help you get used to the gameplay, you’ll probably quickly find yourself switching over to the Racer levels as they offers a much more challenging and gratifying experience. Finally, Endless mode offers players a unique experience each time you play since the track is generated randomly. Basically the challenge here is to last as long as possible without blowing up, or running off the track.
Once again Craneballs has delivered another somewhat quirky title deserving of a warning label reading: “WARNING: This game may cause you to lose track of time”. You’ll start off with one race and then before you know it an hour or more will have passed. The simplicity of the controls coupled with entertaining gameplay and elegant OpenFeint integration will have you racing down the track over and over and over again. For your $1.99 Monorace really offers two games in one, a satisfying time-based racing game as well as a challenging endurance last-longer style game. A always, I once again find myself highly recommending you check yet another fine title from Crandeballs Studios.