GamingReview: Pumped BMX +

Review: Pumped BMX +

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After playing a 50+ hour RPG, you might want to unwind with something a little more laid back before jumping into the next AAA release. It was this exact thought process that led me to downloading a game called Pumped BMX + from my Steam library. Like many titles on my account, I have absolutely no idea how it ended up there. However, it seemingly appeared to fit the bill, so I decided to give it a shot.

Pumped BMX + is an arcade sports game developed by Yeah Us! and published by Curve Games. Structurally, it’s a combination of the old school Tony Hawk’s games, mixed with elements of the Trials series. It was released back in 2015, with a sequel subsequently coming out in 4 years later called Pumped BMX Pro. 

Simple but effective gameplay.

Simply put, the goal of Pumped BMX + is to navigate through different sets of obstacle courses. The courses themselves are comprised of numerous rails, ramps, gaps and barriers to jump over. This is easier said than done though, as each input requires expert timing and handling on the part of the player.

If you accidently crash into an object, fail to execute an ollie, or botch your landing, then you’ll be sent right back to the start of the level. There are no checkpoints either, meaning you have to best each level in 1 attempt. It’s a pattern that takes some time to get used to, but once you do, it is incredibly fun, satisfying and rewarding.

On top of this, each course also comes with its own set of unique challenges. For the most part, these are optional tasks that you can complete in your spare time. Although later on in the game, they do become mandatory to unlock certain levels.

The challenges usually require you to conduct a flashy trick on your BMX. Preforming these is relatively straight forward, as flicking the right analogue stick will allow you to act out the various stunts instantaneously. Landing the tricks can be a bit of a problem, as some of the challenges are very gruelling to pull off. Thankfully, all of these quickly become second nature to preform, after you’ve been playing for a while.

Character customisation and accessibility options.

Completing a set number of challenges will reward you with new abilities. These can provide you with things like additional upwards mobility, or shortening your take-off to sustain more speed. You also have the option of customising your character with a small selection of bikes, helmets and outfits.

Sadly, there is a worrying lack of option customisation. Those looking to do things like reconfigure their input layout, toggle on a colour-blind mode, or utilise any other accessibility settings, won’t have the choice to do so. This is a disappointing oversight by the developers, and one that ultimately alienates a lot of gamers. It’s something to keep in mind before setting out to purchase this game.

Basic graphics, but it does what it needs to do.

Pumped BMX + is very cartoonish in its presentation. The colour pallet uses a mixture of bright and inviting colours, all of which cultivate a visually stimulating experience. The, somewhat, decent variety amongst the environments ensures that you won’t be looking at the same thing constantly. This is especially welcoming during levels that require multiple attempts to conquer.

In addition to this, the 3D models utilise a low polygon count. While this was clearly chosen for technical reasons, it also matches the aesthetic presented by the colouration and texturing. Admittedly, Pumped BMX + does have a rather bland art style, typically seen in the likes of mobile releases. However, it’s executed well enough that it never really impacted my enjoyment of the game.  

A surprisingly great soundtrack!

In my life, I’ve played my fair share of games from lesser-known developers. One trend I’ve noticed amongst them is their habit of tagging on a sub-par soundtrack onto their games. Still, there are times where this expectation has been proven wrong, and I’m happy to say that Pumped BMX + is one of those times.

The OST is a varied collaboration between different artists. It’s rooted in electronic instrumental music, but crosses over into various subgenres. For example, the tracks by TIGERBLOOD venture into Trance and Dubstep, whereas tracks by Fork & Knife are rooted in spacious synthwave ambiences.

The unique styles that each artist brings to the table work exceedingly well together, with each of them serving the game excellently. It honestly sounds like a soundtrack you would hear in the background of the X Games. For those unfamiliar with this blend of music, I can imagine it sounds a bit overbearing at first. But once you overcome this hurdle, you’ll find a fantastic score within.

Conclusion

Pumped BMX + is an enjoyable game, even if it is slightly one dimensional. The gameplay is a nice merger of the Trials series and Tony Hawk games, with enough complexity to keep you entertained throughout. Artistically, it’s a fairly standard low-poly aesthetic, but serviceable enough in getting the job done. Its soundtrack surpasses all expectations, featuring a wide array of musical talents that is well worth the cost of admission alone. If you are seeking a title that is outside the norm, or one that will hold you over until the next AAA release, then I’d recommend giving this a shot.

SUMMARY

+ Enjoyable gameplay
+ Challenging courses
+ Outstanding soundtrack
- Basic art direction
- Awful option customisation

(This was reviewed on Steam. You can also find this on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and Xbox One.)
Lee Fairweather
Lee Fairweather
A lifelong video game lover turned games journalist and historian. You can find me playing anything from the latest AAA PC releases, all the way back to retro Mega Drive classics.
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Review: Pumped BMX ++ Enjoyable gameplay </br> + Challenging courses </br> + Outstanding soundtrack </br> - Basic art direction </br> - Awful option customisation </br> </br> (This was reviewed on Steam. You can also find this on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and Xbox One.)