Tuesday, February 5

Review: Pumped BMX Pro [Nintendo Switch eShop]


There’s always been a bit of a market for a good stunt game, though nothing since perhaps the days of Tony Hawk and a few others have truly broken through. The mobile space has prompted some new players to emerge, one of them being the Pumped BMX series. Though perhaps it will attract some attention from people who like to be challenged and don’t mind the grind, it has a few too many problems to make a major impression.


The gameplay is, for the most part, simple. You’ll move through a hilly course that presents opportunities to catch air. Work to get as much momentum as you can, try to come off the jump perfectly, perform any number of stunt combinations (to the game’s credit there are a ton of them) in the air, and then try to land on an incline in a way that will preserve your momentum for the next jump. As you progress you’ll begin to incorporate more stunts into your repertoire including grinds, manuals, and more. Each course has 4 objectives for you to reach, whether simply completing the course, performing a certain number of a specific stunt, or possibly pulling off a tough trick while a photographer tries to catch a snap of it.


The problems come into play in a few ways. Probably the biggest issue is with trying to maintain momentum, a problem that gets to the point that it becomes almost your entire focus, over even doing stunts. It really feels like you start each run with a maximum amount of momentum you can carry and all you can do is lose it over the course of the run. If you don’t release off the jump just right, or if you bump into something and don’t come down any incline as you land well enough you can forget nailing that next big jump. Nothing you do will get it back, you can pretty well just reset the moment you make a mistake. This often makes you become more cautious and hold back on your stunts and begins to beg the question of what the game’s goal is. It seems to be about stunts and having fun on the surface but somehow it gets mired in also trying to be a technical racer as well. Throw in some of the awkwardness of button combinations, needing to hit the left shoulder button to choose a tier 2 trick, which you then execute with the right analog stick, but then you’re also holding the right Z trigger to do a 360 at the same time? It’s awkward at best and tends to make you disinclined to try to do certain combinations because they’re simply uncomfortable to pull off.


The result is unfortunately that nothing ends up working very well in any direct. This title is in no way able to compete with the likes of Trials on the technical side and it manages to get in its own way to the point that it isn’t a light and fun stunt game either. Even if you do manage to get the rhythm of it all down the best you can hope for is just course after course with a checklist of tricks for you to do that are often a bit more lame than what you can pull off if you’re in the zone. Why limit yourself to 2 backflips when you can do a 720 Can Can into manual? Pumped BMX Pro just seems to have an identity crisis and should really make a commitment to one style of play or another, the current mix simply isn’t terribly satisfying.

Score: 6

Pros:
  • An abundance of stunts for you to play with and combine in any number of ways
  • A mix of technical play and stunts if that’s what you’ve been looking for

Cons:
  • The ease of losing momentum is a consistent bummer and affects what you’re willing to try to do since if you can’t finish the course none of it counts
  • Ultimately doesn’t end up working well as either a technical or a stunt racer
  • Certain combinations of tricks are simply uncomfortable and impractical