Ever feel like the hardware industry has more control over your life than you do? Like you're being dragged along, kicking and screaming, by a cabal of console manufacturers, forced to cough up huge quantities of cash every few years for a shiny new box of tricks? Spend a few thousand miles in the mysteriously friction-proof trousers of Pablo, a mechanic with his shoelace caught on the rear wheel of a sentient, free-spirited, mass-murdering superbike named IRIS.
To mark the launch of Xbox One, the dependably anarchic Twisted Pixel has put together a breezy little antidote to next gen hype - a barmy, broken action racer that's so low-fi it might as well ship on a VHS tape, endowed with a script that comprises every awful action movie quote ever, tossed into a blender with the studiedly bipolar dialogue from Portal 2. I can't quite bring myself to recommend it whole-heartedly, but I can't quite bring myself to live without it.
Lococycle is crap. Glorious, knowing, uninhibited crap. The intro movie is an agonisingly drawn-out live action affair with production values that limbo under the bar set by Hot Shots: Part Deux, during which IRIS is struck by lightning, becomes self-aware, spots an advert for a biker festival on the other side of the country and sets off with the unfortunate Pablo in tow. An army of axe-wielding G-men, jet troopers, kamikaze surfers, stilt walkers and mechs promptly gives chase. There's also SPIKE, IRIS's stablemate turned nemesis, who's as likely to be seen chugging an ice cream in a roadside diner as swinging a helicopter like a baseball bat: he's voiced with toe-curling aptness by Robert "T-1000" Patrick from The Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
You can polish off the game in an evening, but Lococycle is best enjoyed in quick bursts - the levels and mechanics are too messy, too beholden to sheer novelty value, to really captivate at length. The idea is always to get from A to B, annihilating anything and anybody you encounter on the way. IRIS is equipped with machine guns that make short work of the basic "dude in SUV" enemy type. She can also leap skyward for a spot of Devil May Cry-style melee, her bodywork flexing like putty as she Chun Li-kicks her way to a 100+ hit combo.
More advanced enemies must be fought by way of quirky little subgames. You'll hurl Pablo like a remote controlled boomerang to bowl over a procession of bombers on hover boards, steering him on the horizontal axis during the outward trip, and on the vertical during the return journey. You'll time your speed boosts in top-down view to dodge the pre-patterned manoeuvres of mad scientists who ride in electrified metal spheres. You'll hit A when prompted to kick cars at robots, or to pluck giant razor discs and missiles out of the air and hoik them back at their owners.
Save for the odd boss-related difficulty spike (no pun intended), these feats are easy to perform. Far too easy, in fact. You can win most aerial beatdowns with one thumb, mashing A every so often to counter an attack, and the QTE timing is so relaxed, that all you'll really lose for missing a prompt is score. What's more, there's a very generous upgrades system that allows you to double IRIS's health and attack power, or unlock new abilities such as a shield that cancels damage from civilian traffic.
Timed secondary objectives (generally, racing to beat a roadblock) add a measure of challenge, and there are a couple of reasonably testing WarioWare-esque minigame sequences, in which Pablo must fix IRIS by swiveling the analog sticks to use a screwdriver, hitting buttons on time to hammer panels into shape, and so forth. At the end of the day, though, Lococycle is hardly going to stretch your reflexes or strategic faculties, and checkpoints are frequent enough that failure never really stings.