If you’ve got yourself a nice, comfortable desk job, try to spare a thought now and then for people who participate in extreme sports for a living. The most dangerous thing that could happen to those of us with cushy desk positions is probably an errant splinter or a malfunctioning computer, but extreme sports practitioners face death every single day and do it with a smile on their face.
Luckily, we have video games to help us understand what it’s like to be one of those people. Of course, we’re not suggesting for a moment that playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is actually an accurate representation of what it’s like to be Tony Hawk, just like we wouldn’t say Call of Duty accurately represents war. Still, with video games we can get close to the death-defying stunts of professional extreme sportspeople without actually endangering ourselves.
Hooray for games like Moto X3M 5 Pool Party on Poki.com, then. Developed by Ukrainian studio Madpuffers, Moto X3M 5 is, as the name would suggest, the fifth in the Moto X3M series. If you’ve ever played the Trials games or other browser-based stunt games like Short Ride, you’ll know what kind of territory you’re in for Moto X3M 5, and if you’re familiar with the series already then you probably already know you love this one.
For the neophytes, imagine the most zany, ridiculous and over-the-top stunt bike game, then add a few explosions and you’re pretty much set. Moto X3M 5 has no narrative context, which is probably for the best; when you’re zipping past exploding TNT boxes or narrowly avoiding massive obstacles being flung at your head at terminal velocity, you probably don’t want to pause for a contemplative chin-stroke and a text screed.
What Moto X3M 5 does have is gameplay and oodles of it. Madpuffers are interested solely in testing your skill with this game, although there is a little spatial reasoning and forward planning involved. With that in mind, everyone looking for a slow-paced strategy game can apply elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a high-octane, frenetic blast through a number of increasingly difficult levels with only your bike for company, then read on.
Like its stablemates, Moto X3M 5 is controlled largely through movement. You’ll primarily be hovering the arrow keys for this game: up arrow accelerates, down arrow brakes, and the left and right arrow keys are used to orient yourself while in the air or realign yourself while on the ground. The controls are simple, but that isn’t the same as easy; you won’t spend much time at all getting to grips with the basics here, but the finer points of advanced movement that the game throws your way, later on, will throw you for six in the best possible sense.
Part of Moto X3M 5’s appeal is its wonderful presentation. The subtitle isn’t “Pool Party” for nothing, and the color scheme and visuals are vibrant and clear, with a beach party clearly in full swing behind you as you perform jaw-dropping stunt after jaw-dropping stunt. There’s never a dull moment on screen thanks to this emphasis on clear, bright visual design. Moto X3M 5’s closest competitors could sometimes be a bit muddy and hard to make out, but the Moto X3M series continues to be a beacon of beautifully buoyant visual aesthetics in a drab and dark world.
Just like the previous games in the series, Moto X3M 5 is all about that gameplay when push comes to shove. The difficulty curve here is perfectly pitched, but it is worth noting that the game’s earlier levels are no slouch when it comes to teaching you their mechanics. Moto X3M 5 won’t wait around for you to get a basic handle on the controls before it starts challenging you, so you’d better make sure you’re ready for the big time before you get started.
Once you do ease into the game’s groove, though, it presents a surprisingly smooth difficulty curve. A lot of Moto X3M 5 Pool Party is figuring out when the game wants you to react and when it doesn’t – although it might look like obstacles can’t be dodged or circumvented, there are many times when simply flooring the accelerator and hoping for the best is the premier strategy. In this way, Moto X3M 5 simulates the daredevil attitude of its inspiration perfectly, rewarding players for daring stunts and not for playing it safe or comfortable.
There are a couple of unlockable treats in wait for players who ace the game’s stages, too. By racing through stages as quickly as possible, you’ll earn stars, with the best possible time earning you three stars. Stars can then be used to purchase one of the game’s unlockable characters. There isn’t quite the emphasis on range and depth that there might be in other games, but this is fine – the designs that are available are amusing enough, and in the end, you’ll be having too much fun with the game to notice if the character selection is a tad anaemic.
In the end, Moto X3M 5 Pool Party is simple, unadulterated fun. It won’t win any competitions for breathtaking innovation, but it does what it does extremely well. If you’re looking for a skill game that combines reflex testing with a rudimentary understanding of physics, it’s hard to imagine how you could do much better than Moto X3M 5.