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Lego Bionicle Challenge

For: Mobile

Will you be first out of the blocks?

Product: LEGO Bionicle Challenge | Developer: Kiloo | Publisher: Living Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 425KB | Reviewed on: W550 other handsets | Version: Europe
 
LEGO Bionicle Challenge Mobile, thumbnail 1
When we were wee nippers, Lego was all about gloriously unrestricted creative freedom. It was a wonderfully liberating toy that granted the opportunity to create everything from a fully working F1 car to a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower (albeit one constructed from mismatched multi-coloured blocks). The only limitations were the quantity of available pieces and your imagination.

It's heart-warming to learn that Lego is still going strong today, but if the Danish toy company's current best-seller is anything to go by then modern children have sadly lost the urge to create their own masterpieces and would rather play with manufactured characters.

Characters such as the mystical warriors of the million-selling Bionicle universe.

Instead of opting for a typical platform action title (as you'd be forgiven for expecting), developer Kiloo has instead used this lucrative Lego franchise to produce a particularly neat racing game, viewed from a convenient top-down perspective � if you've played any entry in Codemasters' near-legendary Micro Machines series then you'll be more than comfortable here.

The denizens of the Mata Nui (for that is where these Bionicle-types live, fact fans) have momentarily put aside their grievances and decided that the best way to ascertain who is 'the best' is to stage a racing championship. This competition takes place over several varying courses, each set in a different region of Bionicle world.

The concept couldn't be simpler: complete a set number of laps and make sure you're the one who crosses the finish line first. You're given a selection of three racers to choose from at the beginning of the game � the wonderfully named trio of Kualus, Nuparu and Matau � and each character has different attributes based around weapon power, fuel capacity and armour strength.

When you finally get into a race, it's vital that you pay attention to the fuel and energy gauges at the top of the screen. Fuel is constantly being depleted by the act of movement, but your energy bar is only affected when you clash with a fellow Bionicle, collide with the side of the track or are struck by a rival's weapon.

Yes, you read that correctly � in a not-entirely sporting move, the powers that be have decreed that each participant is permitted to fire deadly disc-like projectiles at their opponents. It's not fair, but it certainly makes each race pretty exciting.

To make things even more appealing, spectators are allowed to chuck a few random laser bolts at the participants, should they so wish.

Should your fuel or energy run dry, then your character explodes in a shower of manufactured plastic and there is a short pause before it is magically reincarnated to continue the race � a remarkable event, but, expectedly, it usually results in you dropping to the back of the rankings.

Mercifully, there are red and yellow patches of the track that give you a short speed boost and replenish fuel, respectively. In addition to this, picking up a randomly placed 'spanner' icon grants more energy, so it's imperative that you hit as many of these hot spots as possible during each lap. Other pick-ups include a temporary shield and various 'one-shot' weapons, which handily leech the fuel or energy of rival racers.

Visually, Lego Bionicle Challenge is nothing short of stunning. From the attractively presented menu system to the actual racing action, developer Kiloo has ensured that, graphically, the game is as polished as a freshly manufactured Lego brick.

The Bionicle racers are nicely rendered sprites and possess a gloriously smooth 'turning' animation, too, while the tracks are diverse and visually pleasing, ensuring that proceedings don't get too monotonous. Add in some high-quality tunes and pleasing sound effects, and you've got an overall package that is extremely difficult to fault in terms of presentation.

Unlocking all the available courses is no picnic but doing so doesn't mean the game ceases to be playable. Indeed, Lego Bionicle Challenge is one of those pieces of software that is ideal for short-burst entertainment � whether in-between meetings at work or on the bus journey home, chances are you'll have time to complete a quick race.

However, it's disappointing to find that Kiloo didn't include the option to record and save lap times, as this would have provided even more incentive to replay earlier levels and improve on your personal best. Also, the fact that there are only two other racers on the track at any one time means that things aren't quite as tense as they might be.

Regardless of these relatively minor quibbles, the quality of Lego Bionicle Challenge shines through. It's obvious that a lot of time and effort has been lavished on the creation of this title and if you're after a racer that harks back to the glory days of the aforementioned Micro Machines, then this should just hit the spot.
 
Lego Bionicle Challenge
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 30 July 2007
Minor issues aside, stunning visuals, superlative sound and entertaining gameplay make this an excellent mobile phone game
 
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