Line Rider 2: Unbound DS Review

Line Rider 2: Unbound is the sequel to a free online game, except publisher Genius Products expects us to pay $29.99 for it. Although $20 seems about right, there's no denying this game's addictive pull. Solving difficult puzzles after an hour of fumbling makes us happy, as well as the ability to upload and download created puzzles via the DS' Wi-Fi Connection. Annoying trial and error, combined with some strange design decisions, spoils some of the fun, but Line Rider 2 is still a worthwhile pick-up.

Instead of changing the formula, developer inXile entertainment went with Line Rider's basic foundation, which is to draw lines and watch a cute dude named Bosh ride them with his sled, the goal to keep him from falling into an abyss. It's all physics based, so Bosh's sled will zip around, crash into walls and slide up hills, so long as the tracks make sense. Depending on how talented and patient you are, you can create elaborate tracks with loops, ramps and drawings in the background. A simple YouTube search will give you an excellent look at some of the community's elegant designs.

Since Genius Products slapped a price tag onto an otherwise free video game, it needed to entice us with some extras and it succeeded. Not only do you have access to more tools, one of which adds background scenery, but there are three modes that'll keep you busy for hours. Story Mode, complete with simple and fuzzy looking cut scenes, challenges you to complete broken tracks by filling in lines. Solutions to these puzzles are difficult to find, and you'll spend most of your time experimenting until Bosh finally reaches the goal. Sometimes, all you'll need to do is draw a straight line. Others, you'll tweak that line in order to make curves and dips. It's fun, and we had a great time putting our imaginations to work, but we also grew bored staring at the screen. There's a lot of trial and error, and sometimes we just got lucky. Without clues or great explanations of how to use the tools, we found ourselves falling asleep or just growing frustrated. Combine that with the inability to undo mistakes (you'll need to erase everything) and bizarre occurrences where Bosh falls through lines he should ride, and the game becomes annoying fast.

At the same time, Story Mode is usually worth the investment, but it's nowhere near as engaging as Puzzle Creation Mode, which allows you to not only create your own puzzles (duh), but upload them online and download other user creations. What makes this especially cool, aside from the obvious, is your having to solve the puzzle before you can submit them, which ensures that everything you download has a solution.

Finally, there's Freestyle Mode, which is nothing more than a means to draw at your leisure. You get all the same tools, including one of our favorites, the Trampoline Line, which propels Bosh into the air and allows him to land on multi-leveled tracks. We're also fond of the Acceleration Line (one of 12 new line types), since it gives Bosh an extra speed boost.

Like the previous Line Rider game, Unbound's graphics are as good as you make them. You have the option of adding scenery, but your drawing skills will determine how sweet the visuals are. Bosh and his sled are cute, and it's fun watching him glide along, but it's the doodles and track designs that elevate the graphics from simple to extravagant.

You can't compose music, but you have the option of choosing which songs you wish to listen to. Overall, however, Line Rider 2 has a cool soundtrack full of electronica and other cool beats that add to the game's personality, what there is of it.

We're not fans of the original Line Rider and don't care for the iPhone version, but Line Rider 2: Unbound is a cool distraction and a great way to pass some time. Not only is Story Mode deep and engaging, but Puzzle Creation adds infinite possibilities. Thirty bucks is still too much to spend, but considering the value, you'll have fun if you do.

What's Hot: Freestyle mode has lots of neat tools, Puzzle Creation Mode lets you create puzzles and share them via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, cool physics send Bosh slamming into walls or sailing off ramps, catchy music.

What's Not: Story mode's trial and error annoys us, you cannot undo mistakes without erasing, watching Bosh travel down the same paths gets old, costs a ridiculous $29.99 when you can download the original for free.

3/5