If you've seen one biking game, you've seen them all, right? Maybe. However, when a developer introduces a program to help the community, you can't help but take notice. That's exactly what Global Gaming Initiative did with Sidekick Cycle for iPhone and iPad.
The game not only has an arcade-style challenge of riding a bike through several obstacle-filled courses, but also provides a way to assist children. The developer promised to donate real bikes to kids once it reaches a certain number of players, through downloads and in-app purchases.
Throughout Sidekick Cycle, you'll control a bland-looking rider - each one fails to provide any sort of expression - as he runs through danger-filled courses, collecting coins and gears while meeting required times. The more you ride, the more coins you earn, which you can turn around on bike upgrades and, as the title indicates, animal sidekicks.
These animals can be used multiple times, each one giving its own advantage. Cherub Cheetah, for example, helps you come back quickly from a crash, rather than starting over. Then there's Magno Monkey, a magnet-carrying chimp that attracts coins. A word of warning: some of the better ones, like Cash Koala, require an in-game purchase. You don't need them to win, however.
Sidekick Cycle's gameplay couldn't be easier. Your biker accelerates automatically, and you either tap the screen to perform a quick jump, or hold your finger down to pull off a backflip. The more coins you collect or tricks you complete, the more speed boosts you get. It's fun for a while, but the game doesn't provide anything new. It just follows the same "jump and flip" method throughout - which may get old for some.
There are plenty of courses available, including Red Rock, Savannah and an African summit that will unlock with enough riders. You can also obtain faster, steadier bikes, either through paying cash or using in-game coins. All told, the freemium system is reasonable.
While your rider may not change expressions, the rest of the game holds up nicely. The courses look excellent, with environmental design well suited to each quadrant of the map. On top of that, it's tough to resist those adorable animal sidekicks. Take one look at Cherub Cheetah and tell us you won't use him. Yeah right.
Global Gaming Initiative needs to fix the audio, though. It dropped out a number of times, making the game eerily quiet. When the music kicked in, it was nothing special, but we'd prefer that over dead silence.
Considering the "give back to the community" vibe that Sidekick Cycle provides - without beating you over the head with premium purchases - it's worth a look. Just don't expect a triple-A experience.
Download Sidekick Cycle: iOS
What's Hot:Simple and entertaining gameplay, cute animal sidekicks, solid visual design, charitable cause.
What's Not:Gameplay quickly becomes repetitive, some items will take time to earn if you don't feel like spending money, the bland appearance of your rider, audio drops out.