Pumped BMX Plus is a great little experience that could provide hours entertainment in bite-size chunks. Bust out grinds, manuals and mid-air trick combinations to reach the various goals in the level and unlock more difficult courses. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, read on for the full Pumped BMX Plus review.
Look and Feel
For a budget title on various platforms made by one person, this game looks pretty good. It’s not going to wow you with its basic cartoon art style, but it’s pleasant enough to look at and performs incredibly well. I haven’t had a single instance of it freezing or slowing down. My experience has been a great one. That, combined with how smoothly the bike itself handles, makes for an enjoyable time all-round.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s not a lot going on here, and the levels are short (which actually works to this game’s benefit) so it’s obviously not going to be too demanding technically, but it’s also not demanding much of your time or money either and yet still does a better job of producing an extreme sports game with goals to work towards than a full-priced, big publisher-funded product such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.
If it could improve on anything, perhaps some engaging background music would help it to be more immersive. Though I found myself mostly focused on not slamming face first in to a ramp, I did notice how empty the game felt on the ambient sound side of things.
The backdrops are a bit generic too. It’s somewhat unfair to be so critical of a small project from one person, but some more imaginative backgrounds would do a lot to keep people interested in my opinion. Forests, deserts and snow-capped mountains can only go so far these days.
As the person on the BMX, your job is simple: navigate the course in a classic left-to-right fashion and reach the goal at the end. You’ll have a set of three goals per difficulty level to achieve on the course, such as “High Score: 10,000” or “Do a Manual”, and completing these will unlock the more difficult courses.
As previously stated, the bike handles really well and the course layouts can go from simple to elaborate but never felt unfair to me. Some of the objectives can be tough to achieve, but it’s all about finding the right spot for that Manual-Spin-Manual transition. Trial and error is the name of the game. Except that it’s not. It’s Pumped BMX Plus.
You have several abilities at your disposal, all easily accessed via a controller. The ability to spin, pull off ordinary or special tricks and flips all come in to play. Later on, you also get access to a new mechanic that essentially changes the way the game is played with the “Boost” and “Racer” abilities. By pushing the left analog stick forward or backwards just before a jump, you can gain a height boost (Boost) or speed boost (Racer). You can retroactively apply these abilities to earlier courses to make completing Easy, Medium and Hard goals simpler, but the inclusion is more to do with how you’ll need to apply the mechanic in later tracks. Some jumps require a precision boost and the perfect landing on to the next ramp in order to make it safely to the subsequent leaps of faith. It’s seriously insane how in-depth such a basic game can be, but I feel Pumped BMX Plus manages to keep it simple whilst making you think all the same.
Without a doubt, my favourite inclusion is the use of a button to instantly restart a level. If you can tell the run isn’t going smoothly, you don’t want to wait until you crash, breaking every bone in poor cartoon boy’s body. Instead, one click and you’re reset to the start WITHOUT going back to a menu. Great decision. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after playing games like Just Cause 3 that forced its loading times and screens filled with text you’ve read already in its side-quests upon you, just having a game that says “Hey, go again at the click of a button” is a welcome breath of slightly fresh air.
You can customise your cyclist, though it seems there’s only a male option at this time. The various designs are essentially palette swaps too. I hope future iterations offer more diversity if they happen to come, but otherwise, it’s all well and good. Nothing special though.
All that said, it is the same thing over and over again. Though efforts are made to make the game mechanics more interesting mid-way through, if you’re not in the mood to run the same courses over and over to gain access to later ones, maybe this isn’t for you. Still, its asking price is more than fair for the fun you’ll have, even if you never return to it.
My only concern with Pumped BMX Plus is where do you go from here? Expand too much and it becomes what all of the awful extreme sports games have become. Don’t expand at all and the same formula will get tired, as it does indeed do in this game. Repetition without real change will inevitably become a little stale over time, but change too much and you’ll forget what you are. Either way, Pumped BMX Plus presented me with an escape from the huge, triple-A spectacles to enjoy a relaxing cycle through treacherous terrain, and I’m grateful for that. I absolutely recommend it.
Game: Pumped BMX +
Review Format: Playstation 4