I’ve owned one BMX game or another since the 80s, whether it’s been the budget-prices BMX Racers from Mastertronic on the Commodore 64 or the stunt-filled BMX section of the classic California Games from Epyx, to the controversial adult title BMX XXX on the PS2, there’s been a diverse range of titles catering for every despite the apparent limited nature of what BMX games could offer.
In this instance, Curve have once again brought us another indie PC title across to the PlayStation family (certainly not a bad thing going by their impressive track record to-date) but is this one keeping in line with their usually high standards? The game itself is pretty straightforward – it’s spread across a series of short stunt tracks and all you have to do is ride on these from start to finish, performing various tricks and stunts along the way. Controls are pretty simple – holding down X pedals, the left stick controls the bike’s physical position (allowing for wheelies, backflips etc) while the right stick performs an array of stunts.
The game is split into stages, each with three difficulty levels. To progress through the difficulty levels you have to achieve a number of set goals on each. These vary from simply completing a course (getting from one end to the other), scoring a set number of points, or performing specific stunts or stunt combos with the goals becoming increasingly difficult. To throw a little variety into the mix, the scenery and tracks change between stages and more stages are unlocked as you complete more levels.
Gameplay wise, I really had a blast with this. I wasn’t too sure what to expect initially, but it brought back memories of California Games and the BMX event from that. It captures all the fun from that and has a great pick-up-and-play appeal to it. The controls are generally easy to get to grips with although there were times when I found them to be a little over-sensitive or too easy to perform the wrong stunt even when pushing the right stick in the correct direction. There was also one other aspect of the controls that I truly despised… the secondary tricks. The game offers two sets of tricks to perform – a standard set and a more difficult set and to switch between them you need to hold your finger down on the rear touch pad. It’s an unnecessary use of the touch pad for what could have been assigned to the L or R shoulder buttons (which are unused) and it’s left the game incompatible with the PSTV. It’s also an aspect that – in my case at least – pressing the rear pad accidentally on more than a few occasions because of the way I hold my Vita.
The only other thing, and it’s not really a gameplay gripe but more a social one, is the fact that the player character is a white male teen. Developers and publishers want to make gaming more appealing to a wide demographic audience and while I certainly don’t want to pander to the politically correct brigade, for a game like this there’s NO reason why there couldn’t be a choice for a female rider or to be able to change the skin colour. If there are choices for outfits, helmets and the bikes then why not the rider as well? It’s a minor niggle, but I am sure that if my daughter were playing a game like this she’d rather choose a female rider than a male.
Despite that, it’s a fun game and has plenty of life in it. There are enough tracks and challenges to keep anyone happy and certainly to get their money’s worth out of this one.