Back in the day I used to love nothing better than riding around on my BMX. All those bikes with gears and going for long bike rides wasn't for me, I just wanted to do bunny hops and jump over dodgy home-made ramps. Those days are long gone but thanks to Pumped: BMX I can still pull a trick or two, this time without worrying about breaking any bones.
Pumped: BMX is the brainchild of Adam Hunt, a keen BMX rider who was inspired by his love of the sport to try to replicate some of the fun on an app. He worked with some of the top UK BMX riders to ensure that it felt just right and the tricks were representative of the real thing.
All this work seems to have paid off. While, at first, the game may look like another side scrolling bike racer, similar to titles like Mad Skills Motocross, but this game is all about the tricks and pulling off some cool looking stunts while ensuring that you land back on the ground safely.
Because the game has been made by BMX fanatics, it's no easy ride and the tutorial is unforgiving, while still being fair. You'll need to learn how to time jumps correctly, how to get more air and then how to pull off some of the tricks. This will take time and the tutorial levels need to be unlocked before you can progress, but the excellent controls and easy trick system will go some way to helping your progress along.
The button layout has been kept simple; a pump button increases speed and allows you to dive at the right moment (in a similar way to Tiny Wings), while Spin does pretty much what it says on the label. Tricks are pulled off by a left virtual analogue stick which gives you a different trick based on the direction. It all works really well, meaning that the main challenge will be from pulling off the tricks rather than fighting the controls. In addition to these buttons, tilting the device can give you extra air or a longer jump, but it needs to be performed just before a jump. Tilting when in the air turns the rider slowly around, while holding the spin button at the same time spins them faster.
Pumped: BMX has a unique art style that sits somewhere between cartoony and stylised. Backgrounds have a lovely minimal detail to them without being too plain, but also help to keep things neat for the play area. The rider has some great animations which ensure that pulling off tricks on your bike is as cool as possible.
The levels are filled with tracks that all require a different strategy. Some have long jumps that need careful planning and others provide huge hills to give you air and plenty of time for tricks. Each one has a set number of tasks to unlock, from simply finishing a level to scoring a certain amount from one trick or performing a specific trick. These tasks give you stars once completed and it's essential to gain stars in order to unlock the next set of stages. This may be where a lot of players come unstuck, however, as tasks and tracks get progressively more difficult. Even though you can play any track in a stage in any order, unlocking enough stars in the stage can still seem like a daunting task.
All the game really lacks is high score tables, especially considering that it already has Game Center support for achievements. I'd love to see a high score challenge build up around the game as it seems so fitting given the way points are allocated for tricks. Maybe this will arrive in a later update.
So Pumped:BMX is not a game for the feint hearted and will take a lot of practice before you find your feet, just like the real thing. But stick at it and there's an incredible amount of fun to be had from performing some impressive trick combinations.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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