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'Bike Baron' Is Massively Addictive Daredevil Dynamite

'Bike Baron' Is Massively Addictive Daredevil Dynamite

"Bike Baron," available for iPhone and iPad, is one of those games that sneaks up on you. It take a few minutes to understand, and it takes a while to work its way into your head, but once it's there, you can't put the thing down. As you start working through levels, earning stars and unlocking new levels, the game starts firing all your addiction triggers.

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
04/09/12 5:00 AM PT

"Bike Baron," a game from Mountain Sheep, is available for 99 US cents at the App Store.

Bike Baron
Bike Baron

I'm far from a huge gamer on iOS, but occasionally a great game will catch my attention in a cosmic crash of serendipity. In this case, I stumbled upon Nathan Fillion's Twitter feed (that writer/detective guy paired with the smokin' hot detective on the TV show "Castle").

He wrote: "My latest game addiction? Download 'Bike Baron.' Thank me later." I'm guessing the guy has some downtime on the set of the show. In any event, I had briefly considered downloading "Bike Baron" a few days before, then saw this tweet, then tapped in my App Store password, and boom, here we are.

The Bike Baron Game

Basically, Bike Baron is one of those side-scrolling physics-oriented games. It features a cartoonish motorcycle daredevil rider who rides planks of wood, ramps and loop-de-loops of doom as he jumps over flaming kegs of explosives. It's deceptively simple to play, full of crashes, fire and backflips, as well as death- and sometimes physics-defying motorcycle riding. To play, you tap a green go button and start zooming. When you jump, you have to lean back or forward with another set of buttons to make sure you don't land on your head and crash.

The first 10 minutes had me wondering if I had just wasted a buck and 10 minutes of my life. I had a hard time seeing the ramps and planning ahead, and it seemed as if I was constantly wrecking and exploding things. But the sound of the motorcycle engine revving and screaming kept me in it (it's been 34 degrees and raining for what seems like forever where I live, and that means I'm not riding my bike in real life).

After 10 minutes, your head starts getting the idea and you can half-way understand the ramps, ice and opportunities to bust out back flips. As you start tricking through levels, earning stars and unlocking new levels, the game starts firing all your addiction triggers, and you're screwed because you'll be playing for at least another half-hour, minimum.

When you finally put the game down to rejoin the world around you, you think for a moment that, "Eh, I did that. Whatever. Moving on." Except the next time you have a few minutes, what do you do? Fire up "Bike Baron" and rev the engine.

And this time, guess what? The addiction has a chance to get stronger. Your basal ganglia have learned how to control the bike, and suddenly a self-satisfied smile slips out after you bust a 4x backflip and stick the landing. Yeah baby, that's 1,440 degrees of flipping.

As for compatibility with iOS, the latest update makes it sweet for the new iPad and the pixel-dense Retina display. As for me, it runs great on my iPad 2. "Bike Baron" is also compatible with iPhones from the 3GS on up, as well as the iPod touch third-generation 32GB and 64GB models (the 8GB isn't as smart, apparently, so if you've got one of those, sorry).

The Phenomenon

As turns out, Fillion and I aren't alone. The developer, Mountain Sheep, says that "Bike Baron" has been downloaded more than 2 million times since October. In addition to a bunch of levels in the game, you can create your own levels ... or go online to snag a four-digit code to download levels that other players have created. Mountain Sheep says that so far players have spent a total of 50,000 hours to build and share more than 100,000 custom levels for the game.

I've ridden a few custom levels but I haven't built any. Maybe I'm not truly addicted (yet). And as for all the levels in the game, I don't know when or how I'll get there. I'm still playing.

You should too. Thank me later.


MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at Gmail.com.


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