There are so many games coming at us each week, it is hard for one to stand out. Pumped BMX + is likely going to be one of those for most people, but for me, it stood out because of its similar look and style of one of my favorite series, Trials. I assumed this would be like the previously mentioned title, with a more cartoony look, and perhaps a focus on tricks instead of maneuvering. I was half-right in the end, but Pumped BMX + also doesn’t really explain the finesse of its systems resulting in frustration after frustration before fun is ever achieved.
On the surface, Pumped looks fairly simple. Ride down ramps, gain momentum, perform tricks and finish levels – nothing too striking. Scores are kept, and goals are achieved for each run. There is nothing complex about the formula. For anyone playing I recommend the tutorial. The trick system is a lot more complicated than it seems, and the bevy of moves is impressive. Pulling them off however, is where things become an issue.
Platforms: XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $2.99
Tricks are performed using the right analog stick. Holding it in various directions performs different tricks. They can also be modified with the bumpers as well as performing back and front flips by adjusting the rider. It all sounds great, but there is rarely enough air to perform the more complex ones as well as getting the speed for the next jump.
You see Pumped is all based on momentum. Players can gain speed at the beginning by holding the A button to pedal their bike, but after that, it is all based on angles and “pumping”. This is achieved by holding down the A button on a decline. This pushes the bike downwards, gaining more speed. It sounds simple, but is extremely complex in practice. Players have to be perfect. I failed constantly because of missing jumps. There are no second chances here, get stuck, and it is back to the beginning. Combine that with trying to pull of tricks while still gaining momentum and frustration ensues.
The game feels like it added a bunch of complex systems, but didn’t match the actual game to these systems. The results are a convoluted mess of frustration. The team also didn’t add a whole lot to differentiate it from its iOS counterpart. The game feels unbalanced and unfair at times. I crashed so many times during certain levels I just stopped playing. I didn’t feel like I failed because of skill, I felt like I failed due to poor design, and that is an instant turn off.
Pumped BMX + had the potential to be a solid recommendation, but it’s frustrating design and lack of fun really drag it down. I have no problem with mobile games getting the port to consoles; I just expect them to receive some care to make that port worthwhile.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.