Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” One of the things this means for computer games is that if you create something new, other people will copy your idea. They will often iterate on it and add new things. At the end of the day, though, a good idea is only your own for a short while. Of course, this is not always a bad thing. ID Software may well have been the first to create a first-person shooter, but it’s not like Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield are a waste of time. Pumped BMX Pro may well have been influenced by the Trials franchise but is it still worth your time and money?
Pumped BMX Pro is a 2D racer. As you can probably tell from the title, you ride a bike. However, unlike Trials and other games in the genre, you can’t pedal to gain speed. Instead, you have to ‘pump’ your bike to gain speed. This is done by pressing ‘A’ and then letting go as you jump and soar through the air. Once you’re over the down-ramp, press ‘A’ again and your bike is forced to the ground, and you pick up some serious speed. Reaching the end of the level is all about momentum. This isn’t like RedLynx’s game where you have to figure out the correct level of power and balance to get over obstacles that look impossible at first glance. It’s about maintaining your speed and pumping at the right time to increase your speed so you can make the larger jumps.
Another difference from the Trials franchise is that you are required to perform tricks. Each level has four skill challenges and two score challenges. The skill challenges range from something simple like complete the level to particularly tricky objectives like performing an opposite 360 double tailwhip followed by a toothpick grind into a manual and ending with a barspin. These challenges force you to try new things and look at levels in new ways. The score challenges are a more standard affair. Every level has an individual trick score challenge and a total score challenge. These are graded from bronze through to platinum. There are also leaderboards for each level so you can compete with your friends and other gamers around the world to see who can obtain the highest score on each level.
Visually, while the game is an improvement on Pumped BMX +, it’s still a little rough. Character models are OK. They get away with quite a bit because of the stylised look, but it’s not great. On the plus side, the backgrounds have been made far more interesting than the last game. There is a lot more detail there and some fun animations, like the animals. The trick animations are pretty good. The more basic tricks look particularly good. Some of the more outlandish tricks look less realistic. To be fair, though, if you were to pull some of the tricks possible here in real life, you would be wondering if they were helped by CG, wires, or something else.
While Pumped BMX Pro is not on the same level as the Trials games, it does still scratch the same kind of itch and does it at a budget price. The simplified control system (pumping, rather than accelerating and braking) doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a simpler game. It may not reach the controller throwing rage that some Trials levels elicit, but it is still quite challenging at times. The visuals may have moved forward from Pumped BMX + but still fall a little short. I found the music to be quite irritating after a while and ended up turning it off. At the end of the day, though, this is a game that won’t change the world, but if you fancy some more 2D racing action before Trials Rising arrives next month, this is worth your time and won’t put too big a dent in your pocket.