Just a few miles into the ordeal that sees Pablo, Lococycle’s unfortunate sidekick, dragged along behind a sentient motorcycle, he cries out, “When will this suffering end?” We empathise. Lococycle’s premise is a delirious one: an anthropomorphic bike, IRIS – capable of air combos and wielding her trapped mechanic as a melee weapon – is on the run from her military creators. Despite such creative abandon, Twisted Pixel has stifled the setup’s fun to make one of the most miserable games in recent memory.
The action takes place across five stages, each divided into three parts, bookended by a prologue and a final boss fight. In each, you tear along a snaking highway, avoiding civilian traffic and destroying the forces sent to prevent your escape. Holding RT initiates a screen-shaking boost, while tapping B fires a gun that’s underpowered and difficult to aim. You also have access to Road Rash-style sideswiping manoeuvres that do more damage, but are so unlikely to connect that you’ve little choice but to endure IRIS’s military-grade peashooter, which can at least be upgraded.
Things improve somewhat when you engage jetpack-wearing soldiers, one of the handful of enemy types that Twisted Pixel endlessly recycles. Avoid these baddies’ lasers while boosting to close the gap and you’ll be able to leap into the air like a petrol-guzzling Dante to fight them wheel-to-hand. Occasionally, an enemy attack is highlighted by a red circle, an accompanying audio cue signalling that it can be countered by tapping the boost button in between the endless mashing of X. It’s impossible to fall back to the road during these sequences, and at one point we racked up a 110-hit combo without even looking at the screen.
A sprinkling of minigames punctuate the tedious, floaty driving sections, including one where Pablo must repair IRIS before a truck hits the pair of you. Also breaking up the action are frequent QTEs, which can be frustratingly vague in their requirements.
Lococycle is a baffling litany of decisions that misfire. The bike’s handling is horrible, the art style is primitive, and the inclusion of looping FMV backgrounds is an unfunny throwback to the days when developers threw anything at CD-ROMs in a bid to simply fill them up. The abysmally scripted cutscenes perhaps best sum up Lococycle’s wrongheadedness, showcasing the bum notes of its off-colour humour at excruciating length.
It’s tempting to believe that Microsoft and Twisted Pixel set out to create some kind of meta-joke here, but the line between a successful and unsuccessful parody can be a fine one. All Lococycle achieves is falling on its face, while no one laughs.