Ducati Challenge HD – iPad game review

Icome from the first generation of computer geeks and can remember programming BASIC on my Tandy TRS-80 when I was a wee lad, making 3D blocks pop out of the screen for no reason at all, but nowadays the Playstation hardly ever gets switched on, and casual games on the iPad or iPhone are more my style.

Naturally when I found a Ducati Challenge HD game on iTunes I had to buy it. With the attention span of goldfish it had to be good and at first I relished in the ridiculous mechanics and thrashed about the Quick Race tracks with total glee. But that lasted, oh lets say five minutes. I get bored quickly and this just didn’t really grab me as something I’d put a lot of time into.


You see the whole problem with bike games has, and always will be, that they try to tell you to steer with your arms. As a rider, this just feels wrong. Even the arcade style machines that you do actually lean on get this wrong, it just doesn’t translate to to the movement of actually riding a motorcycle. You hardly ever steer with your arms. You might drop a shoulder, you could maybe steer into a tight park with your arms at 2kms an hour, but you don’t hit 180kms p/hr and use your arms to steer left or right. If you do, you’re doing it wrong.

You lean. You shift your weight, you might hump the tank on a motard and push the bars down one way in order to go the other, but you don’t turn a steering wheel or in this case an iPad, to go left and right.


So the whole game play and mechanics just feel wrong. It’s counter-intuitive to actually riding a motorcycle. <end rant>

Get that out of the way and enter back into a stated of suspended belief, you can start to enjoy the ridiculousness of trying to enjoy the game. Problem is, it doesn’t last. The next fatal flaw that makes this game less than addictive, is that there is no sense of speed whatsoever. Sound does not relay a sense of speed, so even when a growling rumble turns into a WOT scream, you just don’t feel like you are going anywhere. At one point I was doing over 180kms down the straight on the back wheel and looked down to see the speed on my dash and just laughed.


It is completely ludicrous, trust me riding a Hypermotard at that sort of speed in a straight line with both wheels on the ground in perfectly flat conditions with no wind is frightening. This game relays none of that to the user.

Ok, now serioulsy <end rant>.


From a gaming perspective it is annoying that you need to go through every championship round to actually unlock tracks and bikes. The Quick Challenge mode should let you choose anything and everything and ride like a lunatic on the back wheel at 180kms an hour into the barriers.


Which is what I ended up doing most of the time. Trying to crash spectacularly and take out anyone and everyone around me while trying to screen grab these shots for bragging rights. Unfortunately crashes are not replayed and don’t get enough airtime making the dual click required to do a quick screen grab really difficult, but I got a few.


The good stuff.

The graphics are good. Perhaps one too many solar flares (I mean c’mon really?) everywhere but that seems to be a fairly common trait used to show off the power of the iPad as a device, and the bikes all generally look pretty good. I guess as far as gaming mechanics go they have tried to incorporate use of the gyrometer as well as use the graphics capability to its fullest with quite beautiful scenery and fairly decent attempt at 3D tracks, so it’s not a total fail.


It is generally, mindless enjoyment and rather fun plus they do go to some degree of effort making each bike ‘handle’ differently; so naturally I played enough Championship rounds to win me a Hypermotard EVO SP which was more fun to try and fling around than the Monster.  Perhaps I am just more into real bikes that playing with computer generated ones these days I fail to meet the target audience for this game?


In all fairness I didn’t plug it in and play it in HD on a big screen TV either which could really transform the playability, but it was designed to be played on an iPad or iPhone so it should be more than decent at doing that IMHO. The total lack of any sense of speed or traction means that to me it just isn’t worth paying for.


If you’re a competitive prick like me then the leaderboards and rewards for being a wreckless backwheel lunatic that crashes a lot then recovers and still wins the race, can be quite childishly rewarding


Lucky then that you could pick it up for nix at the time of writing as part of App of the Day special. But alas, that offer has now expired.

I dunno, maybe the Ducati brand has got me by the short and curlies so I find too many faults and not enough reality to give this game a really good wrap, fun as it is, I want to much, I expect to much and it just doesn’t deliver a Ducati experience.