My name is Catpee, and I have a problem: Panic button-pounding. Not ideal when precision jumps, spins and tricks are the order of the day. As a kid, I coveted the BMX’s my three older brothers had. Gender stereotypes were strong in the Pee family, and so I had to make do with a pretty pink bike with a stinky bell, while trying to bargain a turn on a much cooler BMX. As older brothers go, mine weren’t so bad and even helped me learn some tricks. Sadly, riding off the garage roof onto concreate and cycling into brick walls weren’t tricks I encountered in Pumped BMX +
Fortunately I did learn the art of flinging myself over the handlebars, a trick I managed to replicate in Pumped BMX + countless times. I spent a long time in the tutorial area, trying to perfect my bar spins, grinds, pump and decade, yet it was only the over the handle bars, landing in a heap on the floor trick I managed to get right every single time.
Feeling disheartened with my lack of BMX skills, and with the scary knowledge that holding the rear touchpad of the Vita (something I do accidently quite a lot anyway) increased the difficulty of the trick, I took to the main stage with a large amount of trepidation and prayed there wouldn’t be too many broken bones to deal with.
After the frustrations of the tutorial stage, I was pleasantly surprised that the main stages seemed to flow better, and I even managed to complete the first few levels without nutting the floor.
Each stage has three difficulty levels; easy, medium and hard, and each difficulty level has 4 challenges, such as completing the stage, scoring a certain number of points, score a certain amount of points on a trick and to achieve a certain trick. Thankfully you don’t have to achieve all the challenges on one run through, and you can go back and run through again and again until the challenges are completed. Pumped BMX + also allows you to skip stages and come back to them at a later date if you need to (and I did).
There are a few trophies to pick up along the way, but they will take some serious trick skills to achieve. A nice little extra touch is that most of the trophies are named after famous BMX riders; Chase Hawk, Matt Priest, Corey Bohan and Chris Doyle. This attention to detail pleases me! It is also worth taking note of the various costume changes that can be accessed via the main menu. Some of the trophies do rely on you wearing a certain outfit or riding a certain bike; nothing more disheartening that pulling off that perfect tailwhip to icepick to tailwhip manoeuvre (The Aaron Ross challenge) to discover you were on the blue bike when you should have been on the neon one for it to count.
The scenery is ever changing. One minute you are flipping tricks in a lovely summery woodland setting, the next in a freezing snow-drenched mountain. Although the weather and location changes often, the challenges remain the same. The music is a tad on the annoying side, but with no voice overs you can turn it off and rely on the text banners dropping down now and again to give you praise or insults depending on how you are doing.
Pumped BMX + is a fun little game, which if you don’t spent too much time stressing in the tutorial and take the plunge into the main game, becomes intuitive very quickly and pretty absorbing. With the addition of online leaderboards (I can safely say I am not featured anywhere on these) you can track your progress against other players. Pumped BMX + is a cross-buy and cross-save title, yet it seems perfectly suited to the Vita – it just feels like more of a handheld title than a big screen game, but this feature means there is something for everyone to enjoy, and enjoy it you will. Just don’t be surprised to find yourself settling down for a quick game and glancing up at the clock to find three hours have passed you by as you strive to execute that next trick.
K Nicol Rating – 7/10