It is very difficult to create a genuinely original game these days. Nearly every release has elements of other titles. Sometimes this is done lovingly, to pay homage to another IP. Other times, it’s done to try to offer an alternative, fill a gap on another platform, or be a blatant cash grab. The Pumped BMX franchise clearly owes a lot to the Trials series, but what category does Pumped BMX Pro belong in?
Pumped BMX Pro is the second entry in the franchise to make its way to Switch. It continues the 2D riding gameplay and focus on momentum. Unlike in other titles in the genre (like, say… Trials), you can’t power yourself along. You gain speed by “pumping” your bike at the right times. This is the core skill that you will hone as you make your way through the game. As much as you will need to perform tricks to achieve certain goals, if you don’t maintain your momentum via pumping, you won’t make it through the level. This starts off pretty easy, but you will soon find it pretty challenging to complete the levels. The thing is that if you don’t have enough speed, you won’t make the jumps. If you don’t make the jumps, the level is over and you have to start again
Each level has a series of challenges. There are four individual challenges as well as ones based on your score. The individual challenges range from merely finishing the level to doing a specific, complicated trick at a specific point. These really force you to change up your trick set and try out new things. There are two types of score challenge in each level, and they’re both graded from bronze to platinum. The first one is associated with your total score for the level. The other is for your highest individual trick on the level. Fortunately, you don’t have to achieve all of these challenges in the same run.
Visually, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. Despite being an improvement on the look of the last game, Pumped BMX +, the character models here look poor. I understand that some of it is stylized, but it just doesn’t hit the mark. The actual levels have a lot more detail than last time. Some of the background animations are particular highlights. The animations of the rider are not bad. Each trick is performed smoothly and has a sense of realism. The six areas that you race in all have a nice style to them, but it is still pretty basic. The game doesn’t look bad; it just doesn’t look particularly good.
Pumped BMX Pro is a game that will scratch an itch that Trials fans may have until Trials Rising arrives next month. While it can never match up to RedLynx’s brilliant racer, this is very much a budget title. The challenges on each level offer you an interesting way into the game and force you to try new things. Physics are used pretty well, and although they can be a little finicky, they are consistent. The visuals work well enough without being spectacular. However, this is a tough game. At the time of writing this, only two people had gotten past the first area, and I was the only one to reach the third area and beyond. If you fancy some 2D skill-based racing, then this might be worth a bit of your cash and some of your time.
A review code was provided by the publisher.