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Line Rider - first look

Chances are that if you’ve ever had access to a computer in the last year or have an internet-savvy friend, then you’ve glimpsed a peek at Line Rider - the flash-based net phenomenon that enables you to design ridiculous tracks for a miniscule sledder to toboggan down. We got a peek at the new incarnation of Rider for the PC, Wii and DS and were impressed to find that you won’t be shelling out for a simple rehash, but rather a full-fledged sequel.

For those not familiar with Line Rider, head here and play it for a few minutes. Draw a course, hit the play button and watch your little man careen down the slope. It’s simple, fun, addictive and if you’re anything like us, you’re wondering how the hell you too can create tracks as good as those wildly popular videos.

Luckily, you don’t need to be artistically inclined to produce crowd-wowing barrel rolls and corkscrews. In addition to regular lines, you’ll be able to lay down acceleration and deceleration lines, scenery lines for backgrounds that you can’t ride along, and breakable lines that won’t impede your speed, among others. One of the coolest additions is the curve editor which enables you to select a previously drawn line and adjust the grade of the curve. Those who’ve drawn a curve freehand know how frustrating it is to keep your hand absurdly still as you attempt to stencil a decline, so the chance to fine-tune your wobbly line is welcome.

Speaking of scenery lines, each version will ship with specialized clip art and the ability to draw your own backgrounds, which you can then upload to the Line Rider site for other players to rate and download themselves (yes, this does include the Wii and DS versions). Ratings work like Digg or YouTube, complete with an “Inappropriate” button for those offended by forests of penises (although we don’t know why you would be). In addition to player-created levels, you can also create and upload “puzzle” tracks filled with missing portions that are “solved” by drawing in the missing lines for the rider to complete the track. Of course, the puzzle must be solvable before uploading so Johnny Fourth-Grader doesn’t weep in despair.

In fact, the game’s story mode (yes, there is one) is made up of more than 40 puzzles, designed by TechDawg - creator of some of the best tracks you’ll ever see. In these, you’ll not only have to solve each track, but collect all targets within one run to complete the level and progress the story. Head off the beaten path and you might find collectible tokens, which unlock extra clip art and characters. In between each level are silly Wile E Coyote-style cutscenes where main characters (and lovers) Bosh and Bailey foil arch-nemesis Chaz’s plot to steal their bitchin’ sled.

The differences between the three versions are few and platform-specific, such as the PC’s ability to easily create an AVI video of your run for quick uploads, or the Wii version’s ability to “snap” to the corner of a line for simple line extensions. However, every version will contain uploadable tracks and full cutscenes. Expect to read more about those Line Rider sleds towards its wildly inappropriate release this summer.

Mar 10, 2008

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