Jul 31, 2020
Kids on Bikes is a deceptively complex game that lets players step into the role of protagonists in a classic coming of age story. It’s fun, quick, and able to express a wide variety of stories.
We found Kids on Bikes to be very accessible, thanks to the simple character creation system. Players can make a character in just a few minutes, even less if you pick one of the game’s many Tropes, which are character sheets with predefined skills, stats, and backstory questions. We did find the option to play as an adult to be a bit odd, since the game is called “kids” on bikes, but we could see scenarios where playing an adult character would make sense.
Making moves and rolling dice was also deceptively simple. Although it’s as easy as rolling the associated die of a stat against a difficulty number, the fact that failure is graded on a curve added an additional complication. For example, a player with a d6 in a stat find it all but impossible to complete a task with difficulty of 10, but can spend Adversity Tokens to at least make the consequences of failure less severe.
One mechanic that we found to be less accessible was the Powered Character. Although the concept of a shared character is interesting, in practice it was uncomfortable to simply take control of that character. We figured this would be less of a problem in an ongoing campaign where players are given more freedom to explore than a one-shot, however. In fact, we found that Kids on Bikes was most conducive to extended, sandbox-style campaigns.
Your mileage may vary when it comes to the thematic roots of Kids on Bikes. It’s very clearly inspired by media like Stranger Things, The Goonies, and IT. While these films hold an important place in American culture, they are historically focused on affluent, white communities. You have the freedom to play a game that reflects the true diversity of small American towns, but this may not be something you’re interested in.
Overall, we found Kids on Bikes to be a lot of fun, and was great at capturing the tone of the movies and TV shows that inspired it. It’s easy to begin, but could easily continue for a long time afterwards. You can find Kids on Bikes at Renegade Game Studios.