The original 1985 Excitebike and its N64 follow-up may look rather crude on today’s HD displays but what lies beneath are games that revel in the pure adrenaline of speed and control. They’re about the thrill of the ride itself, the big air and the freefalls, as much as the race.
In contrast, Fearless Wheels – a scrolling motocross title from Latvia-based FunGenerationLab – is easy on the eye with its cutesy, bobble-headed cast and SNES-era palette, but underneath is a game, in theme and structure, about the hunger for victory, for more.
From the opening storyboards your rider is desperate for fame and determined to rise through the tournaments to conquer the world of mud and motorised mayhem. Tracks are progressively unlocked as you attain 3rd place or higher on each, which is both a reason to perfect your command of the simple controls – accelerate, brake, and tilt left and right to stick landings and hike over crash-causing bumps in the ground – and it’s also a cunning way for the developer to offer you in-app purchases to improve your bike’s speed and skill points. The IAPs aren’t as aggressive, financially demanding or balance-destroying as those of Sonic Dash, thankfully, but it’s clear nonetheless that with a little more in the bank your rise to glory will be a little quicker and easier; a dangerous message indeed for a young sports game audience.
The presence of IAP can’t prevent Fearless Wheels from ultimately delivering a robust and worthwhile ride for those looking for the colourful bursts of shallow play its minute-long tracks encourage.
Fearless Wheels is available on the App Store for 69p / 99¢.