Jul 26, 2011

BB Rally Pro

I've always enjoyed Rally Racing simulation games.  On the consoles, the Dirt series has given me a lot of satisfaction.  On the Android, the only racing game that I've spent any real time with is Need for Speed Shift which isn't exactly an off road simulation.  When I was given the opportunity to review BB Rally Pro I was excited as I generally enjoy racing games.  Installation was a snap and doesn't take up a lot of space.  As a matter of fact, applications report it only takes up 168k of space.  The game fires up pretty quickly as it cycles through its boot loader screen.  Once inside the game you're treated to a cool menu with some neat background music.  If you sit and watch the intro screen for a moment you'll realize that what you're seeing is wire frame graphics that appear to be from the actual game.  There's even a car whizzing around the wire frame track, very cool, this would make for a neat screen saver too!

The options you are presented with include Play, High Scores and Credits.  Starting with the credits you'll see that this game was pretty much created by one guy.  His name, Byron.  He did the graphics, the software, the music, the works.  Pretty talented individual if you ask me.  Hitting the back button to head to the main menu and tapping the high scores shows you the top 5 lap times and the top 5 total times for each of the three included tracks.  These are all local scores so perhaps he'll incorporate global scores sooner or later but for now these will have to do.  I want to mention that even though it doesn't say so, from the main menu you can hit the menu button on your phone for a few more options.  These include Restart, Main Menu and Bonus.  The bonus section is what's cool here.  You can change the frame rate between Limited and Unlimited.  Change the gravity between Earth and Moon and even turn wire frame graphics on and off.  The only catch to these settings is that you'll have to beat the fastest lap times on each track to unlock them!

From the main menu if you choose Play you will be presented with a choice of three tracks.  Jumpy, Curvy and Flatty.  All pretty self explanatory but let me go into a bit more detail.  I started with flatty as I wanted to get a feel for the controls.  There are three difficulty levels which seem to simply dictate how the car handles.  Easy, Pro and Nuts.  Yeah, Nuts, that gives you rear wheel drive and makes it to be impossibly skiddy so if you want your car crazy then go there.  I chose Pro which seems to be a nice balance between easy and Nuts.  Once inside the game load times are almost instant on my HTC Incredible you are presented with a behind the car view which looks to me like a Volkswagen Rabbit or GTI like car.  It's white and while the graphics aren't anything that's going to blow your mind they look decent and clean.  sliding your finger in the middle of the screen lets you spin the view around the car.  The left side of the screen is filled with 3 large buttons, one for accelerate, one for decelerate and one for sliding (pulling the handbrake I guess).  The steering is handled by the accelerometer in your phone.  A timer immediately starts when you get into the game so you better mash that peddle and get to it.  Controls are pretty tight but the car can get a bit crazy at high speed.  On the right hand side of the screen are two buttons, one appears to make the car jump or even flip at times and the other is a reset if you go too far off the track.

As you're cruising around the track at high speeds it is quite easy to make a mistake by overcompensating the controls.  After some practice though you'll quickly make use of the hand brake to veer around the tight turns.  After a few laps on flatty I was able to get 3rd place on top five laps high score which was 01:04.83.  I feel I could easily shave another second off my time and get the top score but now it's time to try another track, this time Jumpy!  Jumpy changes the game quite a bit.  There are actual ramps on the track that you can use and the track itself has undulations, if you are not careful and use the gas and brake wisely the car will get out of control and end up rolling.  This forces you to reset and lose time.  After some practice I was able to drop 5th place on both top 5 and top five total times which I thought was pretty nice.  The interesting thing on this track was that a ghost car appeared.  Well, what I think was a ghost car, perhaps my best time, but not really a competitor as I was able to go right through the other car when I passed it, alas, no big crashes.  Maybe a future release will offer clipping?

The last track, curvy, to me was the most challenging.  I found myself actually turning my head as I moved the phone left and right to navigate the complicated course.  I must also mention that on all these courses there are other off road and interesting areas to explore.  As an example, the curvy track has a large bridge looking object in the middle of the track.  I haven't been able to successfully navigate it yet but perhaps it is a shortcut to an even faster time for the high score board?  The other tracks also have off road elements that give the player something to search for if they want to go exploring a bit.  The whole thing just comes off as fun but it's not without its flaws.

While playing the game I just felt that there is a bit more polish that's needed to the game.  For example, as I missed a turn on flatty and came barreling back onto the course, I ran into the barrier that is the edge of the track and thought I would just jump over it.  Instead, I got stuck in the wall and found that the only way to get out was to use the Menu>Restart function, at least now I know what that is for now.  Another thing I noticed was that occasionally you can see into the wire frame, almost as if there are missing parts of the track.  Finally the game has crashed on me a couple of times after several races reporting an error of "This device does not have enough Native Heap Textures".  To be fair this could be my particular hand set as I wasn't able to find others complaining about this issue.  If the developer wants more information about this problem I will certainly be happy to give it to him. 

I'm trying really hard not to be too critical because as I stated earlier the game is fun.  I found myself going back and messing around with it even after the review was finished which to me says a lot about the game.  I also checked on the reviews in the market and while it doesn't have a lot, the ones that it does have are very positive.  Most of the people just want more.  More tracks, more cars, multiplayer (at least AI) and maybe even a track editor.  The price of entry is a little steep at a current rate of $3.24.  I hope though that the developer keeps running with it.  My biggest positive was that it brought me back to my first days with Hard Drivin' by Atari which was a vector based racing game such as this.  If the developer added loops and bridge jumps and those sorts of things that Hard Drivin' had I think he would have a runaway hit on his hands.

As it stands you can grab the lite version which will give you one track and 3 laps.  It'll give you a feel for the entire game and may make you shell out the three bucks.  Like I said, I hope Bryon keeps adding to this game as I feel it has big potential.  I had some serious fun with it during the review, I just wanted more.  Go check it out!  I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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