Pumped BMX + is a first for me: it is the first time in my journalistic career, that I have been unable to find a single redeeming quality of a game. I don’t make that statement lightly, I was even able to convince myself that the authentically sounding Pulse Rifle in Aliens: Colonial Marines provided at least a modicum of authenticity and could be safely listed in the “pro’s” column. Sadly, after a few hours of trying to fight my way through Pumped BMX + on the Xbox One, I have come up empty.
The Pumped BMX series started as a mobile game, Pumped BMX 2 was met with a great deal of success and fans responded to it well. Curve Digital, the game’s developer, has decided to launch Pumped BMX + on consoles, and sadly, it has not done well in the transfer. I think one of the main problems when porting or “reimagining” a mobile game onto PC and consoles, is the contrast in mind-set of the gamer. Most people will agree that playing a game on your phone or tablet is usually something we do while killing time: waiting on a bus, on the toilet or in-between Facebook posts, but console gamers, generally speaking, sit down to play a game as their primary activity. It means that a quirky and somewhat fun or entertaining game on a mobile, needs to be more than that when it hits a console, because the bar is set fairly high. This is where I think Pumped BMX + goes wrong, as a mobile game, something to kill 5-10 minutes at a time, it might be fine, but when I sat down to play the game on my Xbox One, I struggled to even reach the 10 minute mark.
In Pumped BMX + you (a generically cartoon BMX rider) have to play through a number of courses, accomplishing certain objectives such as performing a specific trick, scoring a number of points and of course, completing the level. It is a format that grows very repetitive when each level has three different sets of objectives: Easy Normal and Hard. It makes the game repetitive beyond belief as each new difficulty setting is not factored into the previous run. I played a level on the Easy setting, completed all of the objectives in one go, including scoring over 60K points, and when the Medium difficulty unlocked, it asked me to get at least 15K points, even though I had already met those objectives, because it was on the “easy” task list, it ignored my overall result. It was maddening as I needed to play each level three times while doing almost exactly the same thing. It isn’t as if you can choose to complete the Hard objectives right off the bat either, it all just seemed so redundant.
My main criticism of the game has to be the inconsistent control system. Your little BMXer will start pedaling at the beginning of the level by pressing the “A” button, that sounds fair enough, but he won’t pedal at any other stage, meaning if you happen to lose speed after a bad landing on a ramp, then you can’t make that speed back up. That wouldn’t even be too bad if the controls had any semblance of cohesion or consistency. Pumped BMX + wants you to release the “A” button at the top of a jump in order to get a small boost, the problem is that the difference in speed or height of a jump seems almost random. There were times where I could swear I done things exactly the same, the same tricks, the same run ups and the same timings to my jumps, but the results were drastically different. Many times I would fail to land on the next ramp and that meant the mission would restart. It was so frustrating, and happened on such a regular basis, that it was a real struggle for me to keep playing.
Most of the tricks available are activated by the right thumbstick, this means that the difference between a double barspin and two barspins is a fraction of a second, something that added to the tediousness of repetition: when Pumped BMX + wants you to do two barspins, it won’t accept a double barspin. I have seldom seen a game quite as pedantic as this.
Time and again I found myself thinking “if this was a mobile game, it wouldn’t be too bad”, and the graphics are no exception. The backgrounds are dull and lifeless, the scenery and ramps that you will be expected to ride on are dull and reused time and time again. It looks like a flash game, and that just isn’t OK on a current gen console. The lack of upgrading and customisation is another bugbear for me. There are no upgrades that can be unlocked, no high-scoring tricks that can be granted at a certain point. Everything you have at the start of the game, will be what you have at the end, except maybe your patience. The only customisation available is choosing what colour of BMX you want, if you want to wear a helmet and a handful of set outfits. In such a simple game it would have been nice to have more options available.
In my experience, many games of this nature have a decent soundtrack, with lively and upbeat tracks available, not so in Pumped BMX +. The soundtrack was bland and dull, once again encompassing everything that is wrong with Pumped BMX +. There was just no excitement in this title, no life, no vigour and no soul. It was a big let-down for me as I have enjoyed the Trials games since their first Flash game. I think that if Pumped BMX + was released on mobile then it would continue to have the warm welcome the mobile community have given it, but branching out into the console market is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and it is one that I fear Curve Digital, have failed in.
As a mobile game, Pumped BMX + may have been greeted with open arms and toasts of success, but as a console release it has failed. The gameplay is repetitive and maddeningly inconsistent, the soundtrack does nothing to add any life into the title and the graphics and scenery look like they are from a Flash game released back in 2008. It is hard to look past these faults on the Xbox One release and with no multiplayer or upgrades, it just isn’t worth your time. If you want a BMX game, stick with Pumped BMX 2 on your mobile device.
• Graphics –23/100
Overall – 20.75