Whether you’re a stickler for environmental care and consideration, whether you simply enjoy a healthier lifestyle, or whether you simply like to avoid the London congestion charge, cycling can be a good way to get around. Cyclomaniacs 2 is a game that takes it one step further, putting you in control of a plethora of characters with a selection of bicycles that you must race with in a competitive manner against other computer-controlled riders. The original Cyclomaniacs was somewhat of a work of simple brilliance, and before playing this sequel from developers RobotJam and Longanimals, expectations for its quality were also very high. This sequel is a game that doesn’t disappoint, continuing the eccentric two-wheeled action in the best way it can.
This game’s format will be pleasantly familiar to those that have had the pleasure of playing the first title. You use the directional arrows or WASD keys to control the movement of your bicycle, with up and down/W and S making you accelerate and brake respectively. The left and right/A and D keys are for controlling the orientation of the bike in the air, permitting you to do flips and various other tricks if used correctly. You can also make a small hop off the ground by pressing the spacebar/X. The aim of each of the many, many levels is simply to race the AI competitors across the terrain, aided by a temporary speed boost that can be activated by filling up your boost meter all the way up.
Performing stunts is a large part of the game’s appeal, and you can execute a selection of tricks such as front and back flips, wheelies (front and back) and tic-tacs (by moving the bike up and down in the air). Don’t concentrate too hard on performing every single trick in the book, though, since taking off and landing can be detrimental to your speed and momentum and could cost you the leading position in the race.
The design of the game is a little different this time around and is structured much like a fairground, with each track being stationed at a different section of it, gradually being unlocked by following the pseudo-storyline. You can also attain upgrades to your performance along the way by purchasing with money won from each of the races. Your speed, acceleration, brake, boost, jump, spin, and even the mini-games can be upgraded this time around, with the latter feature being a small extra accessible from the main menu within the lair-like structure that represents it. Further customisation is afforded to you in the form of a selection of different riders that can be unlocked by completing certain levels and meeting the various criteria/challenges set at their outset. There are a huge number of characters to unlock, many more than in the game’s predecessor, though it can be irritating not knowing their strengths/weaknesses because of an oversight that means you must look at the guide in order to find this information out.
Cyclomaniacs 2 is everything that a sequel should be and probably makes more progress than Cyclomaniacs 3 has done with the this game. The gameplay has been improved and tweaked in a positive manner, but not to an extent that the game loses its core appeal. There are more characters, upgrades, and levels to play and unlock this time around, and the game is much smoother in appearance. It’s improvements all round for this sequel, and it is worth every minute of the time you spend playing it.