Motocross Meltdown revving onto iOS in January

Think drag racing with tricks, and you get the idea behind Glu Mobile’s’ upcoming Motocross Meltdown, a fun twist to the free-to-play racing genre where ragdoll crashing can be just as much fun as pulling of the Superman you were flying so high to score.

Glu showed off the upcoming game, scheduled for a January release, during a recent Q1 showcase event in their San Francisco headquarters, and from what I played, Motocross Meltdown revs the iPad with some serious fun.

The game plays like a lot of the drag racing games (think Nitro Nation), where the two racers are shown on screen speeding down the track, and you have to time a series of taps to keep up the speed (think Rock Band display). Tap the screen at the right time, and your motocross rider will boost forward. Time the tap wrong, and you might slow down to the point where you’re eating your opponent’s dirt.

But since this is motocross and not a drag racer, the real fun comes when you hit a jump. Instead of merely tapping the screen, now you must tap and hold the screen, watching as your rider busts out one of his crazy tricks (all upgradeable). You’ll need to know the timing of each jump, as releasing the screen too early or too late will cause your racer to crash, flipping and flopping in the mud as only ragdoll physics can provide. Great for a laugh, but just know, you’ll have to start your race over because while you were rolling around on the ground, your opponent flashed by and won the race.

“The game has been in development for about a year, and is in the vein of CSR or Fast and the Furious 6,” said Slade Anderson, the game’s senior producer, as he walked me through the demo. “It’s very easily accessible with one-touch gameplay and features 21 different bikes in the game right now along with a bunch of tricks to pull off.”

Story mode brings you through five different tiers, with each tier consisting of four events including regular motocross races (although in a one-on-one setting), step up (highest jump), freestyle (scoring on tricks), and speed and style (race plus trick scoring).

Also included throughout the game are a couple of real motocross athletes, including X-Games medalists Wes Agee and Josh Hansen, who not only give you tips throughout the experience, they also pop-up as the final two riders to beat in competitions.

“They both helped us out a lot throughout development,” said Anderson. “They provided insight into the tricks as well as the more technical aspects of motocross.”

As you progress through the game, you can upgrade everything from your bike to your gear to even your tricks. One way to earn virtual money is through sponsorships. You can branding from companies like Monster all over your bike and rider, and you’ll then be rewarded with the funds to help upgrade everything from your look (helmet, shirt, pants) to your ride. You can also pay a mechanic to give you trick or bike boosts right before a big PvE or PvP race.

None of the bikes are licensed, but they are all based on real bikes. Each bike has six different parts that can be upgraded, including brakes that help you corner better, or the body, which reduces the weight and helps you achieve improved speeds.

“We also have 19 tricks in the game,” said Anderson. “You start out with the basic no-hander at the very beginning, then you work your way up to better tricks that are progressively more difficult to pull off like the Kiss of Death.

“The crashes on these can be pretty brutal.”

Be sure to follow Motocross Meltdown’s progress on AppData when it hits iOS in January.