Why I Love Line Rider Reviews
Let me take you back to my 6th grade computer class. The click clack of plastic covered keyboards fills the room. A scowling middle aged woman whose name I've long forgot reads a book in the corner. The walls are cream colored, although you can hardly tell due to the hospital-esqu lighting, and every single kid I know is furiously attacking the timed typing lesson.
This is an incredibly unusual class day. My 6th grade compatriots were a bunch of hooligans who would often refuse to even attempt assignments, much less put effort into them… but on this glorious day our teacher offered us a reward if we finished early. We could play line rider.
Line Rider, if you never played (or maybe experienced is the more appropriate word? I’m not sure.), is this wonderful little free physics simulator created in 2006. Basically, you digitally draw lines on the computer and then a guy on a sled, named bosh, will cruse down your hilly creation. It's easy, but also hard, but also amazing, and if you're a 6th grader whose parents can't buy a gamecube, it's the best thing ever. Every person I knew loved line rider. We would spend hours trying to draw the perfect loop, and when bosh finally made it around, we'd cheer like it was the freaking Olympics. Those rare moments in the computer lab were an intense part of my childhood and I still remember them fondly.
The thing is, I never pictured line rider being anything more than that. A nostalgia fueled flash dream to be filed away with games like Run Elephant Run and Zed. But shockingly, Line Rider has survived. Thrived actually. And there's a whole community to prove it.
I was turned on to the modern Line Rider scene by a youtube channel called Line Rider Review. Run by two guys named Rabid Squirrel and OTDE, the channel consists of, get this, critical commentary on line rider tracks. Is the music thematically relevant? Are the movements reflective of the artist’s goals? What’s this track’s relation to the tracks of the past? Etc. They make top 10 lists, and explanation videos, and all sorts of these intense, almost dramatic, essays about the things people draw in a physics simulator from 2006. And while this might sound like the most pretentious thing ever to exist, after watching the subjects of Line Rider Reviews and learning more about the community, I get it.
Line Rider tracks have gotten more complex than ever. Sprawling worlds of beautiful black and white that engage you with a visual symphony, plucky little stories that surprise you with expressiveness, a deep sense of technicality with tricks that all have specific names (kramuals, stalls, and flings to name a few). Line Rider in 2018 is this nerdy Valhalla that mixes art with gameplay and invention. Things have come a long way since I was in the sixth grade.
Rabid Squirrel and OTDE of Line Rider Review are uniquely situated to make commentary. Both are accomplished Line Rider artists in their own right, have backgrounds in design, and have been helping to bring a nuanced perspective to the line rider community forums for years. They do their best to always be encouraging, but never fail to mark things that need improvement, and thoughtfully muse about the future of the medium.
It hasn’t always been easy for the two, as many players aim to simply pull off the most insane and powerful tricks, while Line Rider Review is more concerned with finding the artistic meaning behind each track. Rabid and OTDE are the niche within the niche within the niche. But that’s why I love them. These two guys looked at a physics sim and said “hey, we should treat this like it belongs in the MoMA.” They’ve found an immense beauty in the everyday, dedicated hundreds of hours to it, and are encouraging others to come and join them.
You don’t often find passion like this.
Line Rider Review is admirable, unique, and a lot of fun. It’s a portal into an internet subculture with unfathomable amount of heart and artistic prowess. I love every second of it and I highly suggest you go subscribe today.