Ah, the iconic BMX bike – made a cinematic icon in the '80s thanks to E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, BMX Bandits, and erm, well, let's just leave it there. Anyway, here's a game that loves the "art" of BMX riding and has been developed by actual "BMXers" – and having been a hit on mobile devices, it hops onto the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita with some confidence.
Pumped BMX + is, as you'd expect, a seriously enhanced version of the original bike-'em-up extreme sports game. The graphics are shinier and the control system has been nicely overhauled in order to take advantage of the DualShock 4's increased range of inputs. It's still very simple to control due to its touch screen origins, but given the nature of this very site, we always prefer a real controller to any mobile phone input dynamic.
Gameplay sees you jump straight onto a virtual BMX and ride your way through increasingly challenging levels while trying to pull off trick combos to earn points. Curve Digital has included a highly recommended tutorial which will put you through some basic challenges in order to get to grips with the dynamics of speeding along (holding down X), jumping into the air (letting go of X at the right moment), and then using a combination of triggers, left and right sticks, or even the back panel on the Vita to perform cool tricks.
If Pumped BMX + sounds a lot like a Trials game without the motor attached, then that's because it pretty much is exactly that. It's easy to pick up and play at a basic level, but does require some thought and ninja reflexes to really hit the big high scores. Achieving certain score thresholds and pulling off particular tricks unlocks additional challenges on each course; this gives you the choice of sticking on one course and trying to nail all of the increasingly hard objectives, or skipping on to the next one with its initially easier options.
The BMX action and backgrounds all look good – there's a dreamy colourful edge to the whole game. As you progress you can unlock new bikes and equipment, too, and although it's pretty standard stuff, it keeps you going until you get bored. Alas, that's the main problem with Pumped BMX +: if you're not an avid rider or just have an average attention span, the chances are that you'll tire of the game before long. This is especially true when you hit the occasional frustrating objective that'll see you landing on your head far too often for it to be in any way fun.
Pumped BMX + doesn't really do anything particularly wrong, but it lacks that je ne sais quoi needed to keep its wheels going around. You'll happily bunny hop into this one for a few short sessions, but once you're done, you'll likely find yourself leaving this bicycle out to rust.