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Top side-scrolling racing games on iOS

A recent review got me thinking about the best side-scrolling racing games in the iTunes App Store. If you have racing-game fever like I do, you're going to love this duo.


Yesterday, I posted a review of Mad Skills BMX, an excellent sequel to the popular Mad Skills Motocross game that uses a completely new control system. If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend Turborilla's latest game.

There are a ton of side-scrolling racing games in the App Store that I've played and reviewed over the years, but only a few can match the level of polish and challenging gameplay found in the Mad Skills games. I've added a couple more to the list here, but if you have a good one you're playing, let me know in the comments.

This week's collection of iOS apps consists of two excellent side-scrolling racers that I recommend wholeheartedly. The first offers a Trials-like experience that has you restarting tracks over and over to get the best time. The second is a recent release with (mostly) lifelike physics as you race giant four- and six-wheel drive vehicles.

MotoHeroz (99 cents) is a mix of Trials-like platforming games (it's made by the same developer as Trials HD) and rally racing that makes for a fun diversion as you go for the best times. Featuring several colorful worlds to master, the game challenges you to navigate 30 different tracks, collecting coins on your way to the finish line. You can play the single-player mode and beat the posted time for each track to unlock new tracks, or you can play the asynchronous multiplayer mode to challenge your friends' or worldwide player times.

MotoHeroz HD
Each world you race in has a different theme and a new vehicle to race. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

MotoHeroz is the type of game that has you restarting a track over and over to get a good time, but those who like to strive for perfection in a game will appreciate the challenge. The physics-based gameplay requires precision to get good times -- you can't just go all-out. Each track has challenges that will require you to hit jumps at the right speed to catch the next ramp. Once you've beaten the posted track time, you have the added challenge of finding a hidden chest on each level.

Once you finish a group of tracks, you move onto another world with a new vehicle to upgrade and master. Collecting coins and completing challenges adds to your cash, and you can use the money to upgrade your cars with better acceleration, faster top speed, and more powerful bonus pickups. Upgrades become a necessity quickly because beating the posted time is never an easy task. As you move on to new worlds, you start from scratch with a new car type, and begin the upgrade process again.

With beautiful graphics, tight controls, different cars to race, and the chance to challenge friends' times, MotoHeroz is an excellent racer that will keep you coming back for more.

Offroad Legends (99 cents) is a side-scrolling racing game with excellent physics, beautifully modeled four- and six-wheel-drive vehicles, and several tracks to challenge your driving skills. The career mode is the only game mode to play, with 48 tracks spanning six Cups, but there are unique challenges in each Cup.

Offroad Legends
Along with monster trucks, you'll have to navigate tracks with huge transport vehicles. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Mostly you'll be doing Time Attack challenges that are as much about beating the posted time as they are surviving the attempt. Unlike many racing games where your vehicle is indestructable, you'll have to find the fastest way to the finish line while also being careful. Even though your cars and monster trucks come with big knobby tires, if you fall from high up, your wheels are going to snap off, ending your race. Adding to the fun, sometimes you'll only lose two wheels, which can make for heroic finishes as your truck drags across the finish line. In each challenge you have the opportunity to get the maximum 3-star rating, but slower times and broken vehicles will make you lose stars.

The vehicles in this game slowly unlock as you complete challenges, or you can spend an additional $1.99 to unlock all tracks and vehicles. You start off with a monster truck, but you'll unlock everything from VW vans to giant lumbering six-wheel trucks. Each of the vehicles has its own unique feel and you'll have to account for the handling of each type in order to get the best times.

You'll have the option to use different vehicles on certain tracks, but only after you have unlocked them. You also can go to the Garage and fine-tune aspects of your vehicle, changing the parameters for things like Damping, Stiffness, and Length of your axles. You can then test them out on any track, but unfortunately, you can't use modified tuning in Career mode.

For a little variation in the gameplay, Racing Legends has unique challenges peppered throughout the Cups. Rather than just going for top times, sometimes you'll need to carry cargo over bumpy hills to the finish line, with each box lost counting against your 3-star total. Other times you'll do what the game calls the Lava Jump, where you need to try to land on a platform perfectly to get your star rating. These extras keep you on your toes and truly test your fast as well as careful driving abilities.

If you're looking for a really solid side-scrolling racing game, Racing Legends is a great option. The gameplay, difficult tracks, and unforgiving physics make this game a top choice in the genre.