The follow-up to a hit Xbox Live Arcade game isn't usually a downloadable Wii game. And the test-bed for novel features in online gaming tends not to be Nintendo's home console.
Bucking these trends bravely are the creators of Moto Heroz, the new WiiWare game from Red Lynx. WiiWare gets few significant games these days, but Nintendo is backing this one and the developers have been on a roll. It makes Moto Heroz worthy of some attention.
Previously, the Moto Herozfolks made the Xbox Live Arcade downloadable hit Trials HD. They're not letting Xbox success get in the way of the Wii's Moto Heroz, a game whose concept Red Lynx' top people have been feeling good about for half a decade. That's what Red Lynx creative director Antti Ilvessuo told me in San Francisco last week as he turned on the Wii and played against me in Moto Heroz.
At first, I wasn't sure what the great half-decade-in-the-making game concept was. Moto Heroz plays like Trials HD, a good quality to have, given the latter's success. It's a side-scrolling racing game that you play with a Wii Remote held at its short ends. One button for gas, another for jump/boost/ghost items, left and right on the directional pad to tilt the buggy, and shakes of the Wii Remote to upright a crashed car. You will drive like a madman, using careful mid-air tilts to ensure you keep your momentum and clear the necessary jumps in order to reach a goal. All, very Trials-y across some 75 or so levels.
The idea Red Lynx had been incubating is the game's unusual online system. The game's developers are creating about 50 levels that they can upload to players, a few at a time in some sort of rotation. Each is about 20KB in size, Ilvessuo told me, and will be transmitted simultaneously to all owners of the game as an immediate score-based challenge. Red Lynx will run the challenges for 12-24 hours, then pull the levels and upload different ones. The studio's goal is to give gamers a new reason to play the game each day. If Wii players like it, Red Lynx will create more levels and keep rotating them in and out.
Ilvessuo said their online concept, something that I don't believe has been done before on the Wii and isn't that common on other platforms, had proven "sticky" during test-runs. It sounds appealing, though, of course, I couldn't experience it during a one-on-one meeting in San Francisco. It's a concept that can only prove its appeal over time.
I can confirm, though, that that Trials-style gameplay works marvelously on the Wii Remote. The game supports four-player competitive multiplayer. We did it at my meeting with three, ripping tough about 10 tracks and then, upon my request, playing another batch. The game was simple, frantic and fun. I wouldn't mind a new variation on it everyday, as odd as that kind of opportunity might be on my Wii.
Moto Heroz will be downloadable for the Wii in late spring or early summer.