Beats the hell out of my old Schwinn.
I vividly remember days spent thrashing around on my BMX bike. As a teen, status
was measured not by jewelry or clothes but by Bullseye hubs and CW Racing bars.
I remember how cool it was when Z-Rims hit the market; plastic rims that made
wheels not only a little lighter, but when you came down hard, they would flex
and return to their original shape, saving the cost of new wheels (and the humiliation
of walking your bike home).
Before any of us had cars, we would meet in the parking lot of the local Lucky’s
supermarket and wreak havoc, weaving in and out of the parked cars, scaring
people half to death. But hey, there was a cool wall there with a smooth pitch
that we could catch inconceivable amounts of air from, and plenty of parking
blocks to do endos, bunny hops, and broncos over.
I have reminisced over those times for years now. I have always wanted to get
another BMX to rekindle that feeling of pulling off a clean tabletop in front
of my friends. And thanks to Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, I can finally
relive my youth vicariously through video games. It’s all there, the 180, the
foot plant, the superman, and hey, I can’t get hurt.
Dave Mirra BMX fills a niche in gaming that has needed a good game for
a long time…this ain’t no stinkin’ Paperboy (oh don’t get pissy, I
loved Paperboy, too). This is free roaming BMX action, complete with
dirt tracks, half pipes, empty pools – just the goods to fulfill any BMXers
Eleven different levels, most with secret areas, make for plenty of exploration.
Ten of the top riders, including Dave Mirra, Ryan Nyquist, and many other BMX
gurus are here, each with tons of bikes and outfits to unlock. This means hours
and hours can be wasted/spent jumping, grinding and flipping around the well-designed
Following other X-Sports games like the indomitable Tony
Hawk 2, Dave Mirra BMX throws you into a nicely rendered environment
and gives you a list of goals to meet. There is no particular order in which
to meet them, so long as you finish the list. And some of the goals are damn
hard…try pulling off three consecutive back flips across a six-pack of dirt
mounds. It ain’t easy.
There are three levels of goals to meet in each area. Complete the Amateur goals and move on to the Pro challenges. The Pro challenges usually award you with a little cookie, be it a new outfit or bike. Completing the Pro challenges is always the way to open the next level. If you prove to have balls of steel, then you can try the Hardcore goals. Pull a 900, jump over the flatbed car of a moving train, and grind across a phone line…if you can.
Control takes a little getting used to. The game sports a Trick/Modifier scheme,
a way of melding moves and modifiers into a vast number of combinations. I had
a hard time adjusting to the Trick/Modifier setup for the first couple of rounds,
but it soon became second nature. The system, as it turns out, is really cool;
it encourages you to create your own tricks, and saves them, automatically,
in the trick list for future use. After a few hours, I was creating devastating
new tricks. Try a “nothing 540 tabletop” on for size.
for those familiar with the Tony Hawk control configuration, you’ll be
happy to know that it’s an option. Kudos to Acclaim for knowing their audience.
Adding to the fun are tons of two-player games. Notables include “Longest
Skid” and a game of BMX H-O-R-S-E. My personal favorite is “High Five,” where
two players alternate doing a single trick, going for the best score. All points
from five tricks each are tallied and the winner gets to gloat. The alternating
method for two players is a great way of doing things, since split screen would
have sucked some life out of the good graphics.
To really get the adrenaline flowing, the soundtrack rocks! A blend of old
and new punk mixed with rap, ranging from Social Distortion to Sublime to Cypress
Hill, really gets you up. But like most games that feature a hip soundtrack,
you’ll eventually get sick of the repetition.
I grieve the loss of a track editor with this game. Acclaim included one in
Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000
(which, incidentally, saved the game from total failure), and rival Tony
Hawk 2 has one of the best level creators on the PSX. I really hope to see
one included in any sequels…hint, hint.
Which brings me to my next gripe. To pass the total point goals, all I had
to do was find an area with a lot of lips and grind around in circles, changing
the style every so often. This leads to incredible amounts of points with very
little effort. In this respect, the scoring seems off; pull a double back flip,
which is not an easy trick, and you get 2000 points. Grind around the edge of
a pool for 10 seconds, and score 4500 points. I felt ripped off whenever I landed
that perfect 360 Superman.
But overall, Dave Mirra BMX is a really good game. The levels are big
and well laid out. The single player Quest mode offers interesting challenges,
and the two-player mode is extremely competitive. It may not be a Tony Hawk,
but it sure ain’t a poser.