Stunt bike games for iOS

This week's iOS app collection is all about stunt bike games. If you like using precision to get past obstacles and go for the best time, this is the collection for you.

Are you the type of gamer who likes to get the perfect run before moving on to the next level? If so, then stunt bike games are for you. This collection of games challenges you to navigate past obstacles, avoid exploding barrels, and make death defying jumps--all while trying to get the best time possible.

This week's collection of iOS apps are all stunt bike games. The first gives you a wide view of the track so you know what's coming up. The second offers smoother graphics, and some nice effects that add to the game. The third is a cartoon-looking stunt bike game designed by some of the most respected developers in the iOS game industry.

MotoTrialz (99 cents) is a side-scrolling stunt bike game that's a fairly good remake of the game Trials, but it's not the best in the genre. Like other games of this type, you're challenged with riding a motorcycle over several obstacles in the least amount of time possible. You have a couple of options for controlling your bike in MotoTrialz: you have gas and braking buttons on the right and you can choose between a slider on the left or the accelerometer for tilting your bike. You'll need to pick one and get comfortable quickly; these stunt bike games are littered with loops, jumps, and all sorts of strange obstacles that require plenty of precision to get past.

MotoTrialz offers all the things you'd expect from a game in this genre. You get 27 tracks that unlock as you play with gradually more difficult challenges. Each track has waypoints that, once passed, make it so you don't have to start over from the beginning when you crash--a necessary addition because some obstacles will be very hard to navigate on your first run. Later in the game, you might repeat the same section of track 30 times to get it just right. Obviously, people who are easily frustrated should not download this game thinking it's a straightforward racer.

While the gameplay is mostly solid, the graphics are not the best. Even with the recent addition of better anti-aliasing in the latest version, some animations are less than perfect. Specifically when leaning forward or backward, there are limited animations to show where your rider is positioned on the bike, which makes it difficult to gauge just how much lean to use. This becomes really apparent in some of the more difficult challenges because it takes precise movements to pull off certain track sections well.

Overall, MotoTrialz is fairly good stunt bike game, but is lacking in some areas. Still, if you like stunt bike trial games and can get past the less than perfect graphics, there's plenty of challenge and interesting tracks to explore.

Xtreme Wheels ($1.99) is a stunt bike racing game that offers better graphics than MotoTrialz (with an unexpected glitch), but it's still somewhat lacking. You get a few options for controls, but like MotoTrials, gas and brake will always be on the right. On the left, you get the option to use a slider, arrow buttons, or you can use the accelerometer to tilt. The controls feel more solid than the previous game, however, making you feel more in control as you navigate past obstacles.

The graphics in Xtreme Wheels look great mostly, with one very noticeable problem (at least in my testing). In this game the camera is closer to the rider and there's much more detail with the rider, obstacles, and lighting effects in the game. Hitting an explosive barrel produces a great-looking exploding effect, and crashes usually result in a splatter of blood. Another great touch is that, when you crash, the game goes into slow motion to make your mistakes much more dramatic.

The big problem I found in the game occurred right at the beginning of my first race. I accelerated out of the start a little too fast, and slammed head-first into a wall. From then on, no matter what I did, my rider no longer had a head. I force-quit the game from the home screen and turned our iPhone 4S off then back on--still no head. Obviously this must be a glitch, but with no way to fix it, I think it's definitely worth mentioning here.

Overall, Xtreme Wheels offers solid controls, good-looking graphics (mostly), and cool slow-motion crash effects that add to the fun. But with the headless rider glitch, it might be worth waiting on this purchase until the developers update the game again (the most recent update was September 26 for reference).

Bike Baron (99 cents) is a new stunt bike game for both iPhone and iPad and might be the best we've seen yet for iOS. Made by an all-star developer team with folks from the groups that made Minigore, Death Rally, and Aqua Globs, this well-designed game really shines. Even the musical score is from the same person who made the music for Angry Birds. In other words, there's a lot of talent behind this game.

Unlike the others in this collection, you get just one set of controls for Bike Baron: arrows for tilting on the left and buttons for gas and brake on the right. Left-handed players also can swap which side they want the controls in the settings. Even without the extra control options found in the other two games, I thought Bike Baron had the most precise controls in this collection.

The graphics in Bike Baron are smooth and cartoon-like. The obstacle courses have funny additions like farm animals to jump over and you'll need to avoid exploding barrels as you try to make your way to the finish. Your rider also benefits from ragdoll physics, making your crashes much more humorous as you bounce over the obstacles.

Bike Baron offers the most content in this collection by far, letting you race through 40 themed tracks with 100 challenges. You even have a level editor where you can create tracks or download other user tracks for virtually unlimited replay value. There are also four skill levels to choose from, which gives you the option to have casual runs or really challenge yourself for the best time.

Overall, Bike Baron is a very-well made stunt bike game with beautiful cartoon-like graphics, great controls, and more than enough content to keep you coming back for more. Even if you've never tried a game from this genre, Bike Baron has enough to offer that most people will get some enjoyment out of the game.

Got a better stunt bike game or a way to make my rider's head come back in Xtreme Wheels? Let us know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.