Sidekick Cycle Review

Sidekick Cycle Review

May 30, 2014

Sidekick Cycle is a fun simple game that adds idealism to the mix.

As far as the gameplay goes, it’s quite easy to pick up, and that is a testament to the game’s design ethic; the game is all about riding a bike, somewhat downhill, and making the time split. In addition to making time, there are gold coins that line the travel way that can be collected by contact. There are also obstacles (like boulders) that need to be avoided by jumping over them, and also some special gear pieces that also can be collected.

The controls are about as easy as it gets: tap to jump. Timing is of a premium, as jumping to early can cause collisions and even mess up the equilibrium of the bike, which, in turn, can cause a run-ending crash.

There are several worlds, which are different run environments, and each provides a unique feel. Success in one side5opens up the next, and the same applies to the individual runs that make up each environment; they are locked till a preceding one is successfully completed. As the game proceeds, other elements are added… things like bonus-laden sidekicks and such. There are plenty of upgrades that can be purchased with accumulated gold, and real cash can be used to supplement this.

The graphics do a good job of conveying the gameplay; the worlds are differentiated through layout, and there is a lot of attention paid to the little stuff like perspective and light play. The animations are a bit stilted, but they work, and even the tumbles have a good degree of realism to them, with the physics and such.; the 2D renderings are simple but effective. I think the characters kid be a bit more polished, though.

One thing that sets the game apart is the social initiatives of the developer, who is/are committed to providing bicycles to people in communities that otherwise cannot afford them when an in-app purchase is made. Such altruism is laudable and is worth mentioning.

All in all, it’s fun game with scaled difficulty that can be tough to put down. And it supports a cause; we can play and feel good doing so.

Tour de France 2013 – The Game Review

Tour de France 2013 – The Game Review

Jul 8, 2013

I know, I know. Nothing stings more for Stateside folks than to find out that a hero that we all mostly adored did something that caused the entire sport of cycling to come under a lot of disrepute. But what better way to revive a love for the Tour de France by kicking butt all over again… albeit on a smart device?

Tour de France — The Game is a sim that aims to take us to the heart of the eponymous racing event.

The gameplay is somewhat reflective of what a relative layman like me knows about the the actual race it is based on, which is a multi-stage team cycling race that spans about three weeks and 2000-some miles. It even squeaks out of tour1French borders on occasion. It is a true global event, and is such an honor to win that… well…

Never mind.

As team director, the job is to guide the team strategy for the duration of the race: sprints, different types of racing areas and more. There are several control buttons, but the developer does a decent job of using space well on the screen

Back to the gameplay:

I found it interesting that the game engine kept the racers in tight packs, just like we see it on TV. Some team racing knowledge would probably be helpful, but the 4-part interactive tutorial is great; it explains how to use racing concepts like group attacking and team specialization to win stages. The game also includes real tour mainstays like the winning of different jersey colors, and stuff like these are incorporated into the game’s achievement system.

I don’t know that much about racing, but I do think the game UI could use some tweaking with regards to the strategy; the opponents get right into it, and frankly, there were stretches that I thought the game could have limited sprints and factored in fatigue a bit better. Maybe I’m just being a bad sport.

This is yet another game that is deceptively addictive, and I liked it more than I thought it would. it presents an infinitely gentler Tour… one that we don’t have to fear to love.

Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro Review

It seems that these days we are living in a health-and-fitness awareness boom. You can get microchips in your sneakers to track your running for goodness sake! But not all of us have the money to throw into robot shoes, especially if we’ve already put the bulk of our money toward a smartphone. So it’s pretty natural then to assume that our phones would be willing to assist us in our fitness tracking, and we are not wrong. Endomondo is the second fitness tracker I’ve tried using, and I can say it’s a pretty tough act to beat.

I had been signed up with and using RunKeeper for a while, and while it’s nice to fall back on the familiar, I was also ready to take a look at the new. Signing up for an account was easy, and the app didn’t take long to download, although for the sake of testing it out I did hesitate for a moment over the $4.18CAD price. But since I’ve started using it I’ve been in love, and have even renounced RunKeeper all together.

The app’s main screen gives you your most basic options: Type of Workout, Music On/Off (with the option of some songs provided by the app, or of playing your own podcasts/music library), and the immediate Start or 10 Seconds Countdown options. GPS, unless disabled, automatically begins plotting out the route you’re taking and uploading it to your profile on the website. Further settings options give you an Audio Coach (giving you your time and distance values at set intervals), and even the option to allow your friends to send you Pep Talks if they see that you are actively exercising. Great for people training for marathons. There is also a secondary screen you can flip over to with a map showing your current location. Helpful to track yourself but also (if you get lost easily like me) to keep yourself on target.

Basic Workout gives you another host of options. You can set a goal to reach, set a goal against that of a friend’s time or a previous time of your own, or enter a route that you want to follow. During warm weather I’m an outdoor runner but during chillier times I resort to a treadmill/elliptical combo at the gym. GPS isn’t a viable tracking option then, so the final option of Manual Entry is essential for me. You can plug in Type of activity, Duration, and Distance Covered and it will all be added into your calendar of completed activities. Sweet and simple and covers all the bases.

It’s hard to praise the app without mentioning its parents site, so let me just say that Endomondo itself is wonderful. It has a very clear and intuitive display for your workout stats, as well as a constantly updating display of all of the other users who are currently out for their own workouts. It’s like Twitter, but for jogging. As well the option of sporting activities that you can chose from when embarking is stunning. Everything from the standard Walking, Running and Cycling, all the way to Pilates and Star Climbing to Yoga and Martial Arts. Plug in the time you spent on the activity and it will generate for you an approximate value for the calories you’ve spent. Those calories are then awesomely added up to give you values for Trips Around The World or To The Moon you’ve virtually completed, or more realistically how many Hamburgers Burned off. These stats are only viewable on the main site, but all of those sporting activities are options within the app itself.

In terms of cons, I feel a little silly reporting that my biggest complaint is that Elliptical (as I know it) is labelled as Cross-Training in the app and on the site. That term means something else to me, and so only the tiny icon of a person on an elliptical clued me in that it was the option I was looking for. otherwise it’s been smooth sailing. Which is, by the way, an activity option!