It’s no secret that the developers at Finland’s RedLynx studio are crazy. After all, this is the same team that embedded secret codes into their Trials Evolution game that led gamers on a worldwide scavenger hunt in real life for keys that will unveil a secret...in the year 2113. But Trials Evolution was last generation’s motocross racing game—Trials Fusion has since supplanted it as the Excitebike replacement du jour. While we haven’t found buried treasure or the alchemy to turn lead into gold buried within the game (yet) it seems that Redlynx couldn’t keep their madcap nature from leaking out. That’s why the Awesome Levels Max extension pack for Fusion features a vehicle that looks like the internet voted it into existence, amongst other oddities.
The posterboy (postercat?) for Awesome Levels Max is a gun-toting cat. He’s your rider; your ride is a unicorn that breathes fire. Mostly, this combo is there just for aesthetics. The cat pops off rounds as you ride and the unicorn spits flames that harm no one and a good time is had by all...until you realize that you’re facing a legitimate challenge. Gas it on the unicorn like you would on any of the other bikes in the game and a flurry of feet kick you up to speed in a jerky boost. During landings, no longer does the rule of landing at 45 degree angle work. Compensate for those churning hooves or prepare to be frustrated by failure.
While the change in rider and “bike” are exceptions, the tracks in Awesome Levels Max are mindfucks through and through. Each track has a unique signature and each signature turns the gameplay on its head, from schizophrenic teleporting in the introductory level all the way to the unprecedented boss battle in the final level. We’ve never taken out a towering robot with a dirtbike-unicorn before now, but now we’re seriously considering adding it into the “hobbies” section of our resume.
The Awesome Levels Max expansion is another in a line of DLCs for popular games under the Ubisoft banner. If this is what we get when Ubisoft takes the leash off its most popular and creative studios, we’ll line up to see what’s next.