Mad Skills BMX Review

Mad Skills BMX is something of a semi-sequel to Mad Skills Motocross, an arcade-style racing game featuring motorcycles that is a bit like Nintendo’s Excitebike. Of course, rather than motorized two-wheelers, Mad Skills BMX’s conveyances rely on pedal-power to see their riders through to the finish line.

From the outset, you have a variety of riders to choose from, with several initially available and more ready to unlock for a 99-cent fee, except for the $3.99 skeleton rider. More riders (and tracks) will be available in due time, with some free and others coming at a premium, while those who can call themselves “one of the best in the world” will gain access to a rider that cannot even be bought.

Train track and field.

The controls are pretty simple to understand: You just touch the left side of the screen to pedal, and where appropriate, slide your finger up the right side to jump, and slide it down to land quickly. You can also gain speed by riding your rear wheel down hills and through whoops (a series of small bump-like hills).

Unfortunately, while the earlier stages are fairly simple to breeze through, the difficulty amps up a bit before too long. One mistake, and the biker you’re competing against will leave you in a dust storm of perfection, and you might as well start over. Making matters worse is the way the bikes seem to lose their speed and momentum as you progress. Early in the game, everything is fine, but before long, you’ll be facing the same jump alongside the other racer and wondering how he’s moving so much faster. There are some tilt controls included as well, but those don’t seem preferable to the touch controls.

The opening scenes of a sequel to 127 Hours.

Mad Skills BMX features four divisions (Novice, Intermediate, Expert, and Pro) with eight tracks each, for a total of 40 tracks altogether. Unfortunately, aside from some background changes between divisions, they have a real “seen one, seen them all” feel where gameplay is concerned, with the biggest change being the frequency of whoops and hills.

In addition, though there are many characters to choose from, it seems that the computer will always pick the same one. It’s a minor detail, but without a real-time multiplayer mode (the game instead supports an active leaderboard system), racing the same guy repeatedly doesn’t help the game feel fresh.

Heading downhill fast.

Music is provided by the punk band “Struck Out,” and it suits the game well. The game’s iTunes page boasts a way to listen to your own music while playing, but there is no in-game way to do this. Instead, you have to go into your music selection and start your playlist before entering the game app. The graphics are somewhat cartoony, though not in a particularly “kiddy” way, and are overall rather colorful and pleasant to look at.

Mad Skills BMX isn’t a bad game, but the steep difficulty curve and level of mastery required to win might be too much for some players. But those who can master the game’s nuances should find an experience suitable for some solid online leaderboard competition.

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