Developed by Balázs Rózsa and released in January 2000, Elasto Mania is a unique blend of platforming and physics, featuring a dirtbike and rider with floating wheels that you must carefully manoeuvre through each level. The physics in place are exaggerated, throwing up low gravity, infinite friction on the wheels, and the bike itself is completely 2D and can swap front and rear tires with the press of a button. The bike's weak point is the driver's head, and if it strikes the ground or any other object you must start the level over.
The main goal of each level is to collect all of the apples, and then you're free to drive into the flower, record your time, and move on to the next level. Some of the designs make this relatively simple goal fiendishly difficult, of course.
The bike controls with the arrow keys and spacebar. Up yanks the throttle, and if you hold it down the bike will flip over backwards and your head will hit the ground, forcing a restart. Down pulls the brake, and again, due to the exaggerated friction, holding the key will cause your front wheel to lock to the ground and a tumble will ensue. Left and right adjust your bike in midair, and it used mainly for landing the bike on both wheels to keep the suspension from jerking you in awkward directions. Finally, spacebar flips your bike completely, spinning the bike and driver around (displaying its 2D nature) and swapping the wheels. It becomes invaluable when you're balancing on small platforms and need to vault off in the opposite direction that you landed.
Despite its simple concept, Elasto Mania is often an extremely difficult game. Many levels require careful management of speed and angles in order to make certain jumps, and there is often a clump of ground overhanging ledges, forcing you to slow down for fear of cracking your noggin. Some levels even take advantage of the wheels' disembodied nature and require you to hit a jump, spin your bike around, and ride a thin ledge with your wheels on top and your rider hanging down below.
Getting the Game
The shareware/demo version of Elasto Mania has 18 levels and the full version brings the total to 54 and includes a level editor. It was $10 on the time of its release, though it's unknown if the game is still supported at this point.
Additionally, a steadfast community exists for the game, with replays, mods, tournaments and other information.