If you’ve ever owned one of those little finger skateboards and played with it to the point that it got confiscated by an angry teacher, you will have a good time with Touchgrind BMX. Touchgrind BMX lets you ride a bike using your fingers, and from there you can perform flips and stunts without enduring the agony of broken bones.
In fact, Touchgrind BMX is a successor to Touchgrind, a finger-controlled skateboard app that’s also from Illusion Labs. The premise of Touchgrind BMX is similar to its parent: you mount a BMX using your digits, navigate several rugged obstacle courses, and perform tricks for mad points. You must perform outlined achievements within a level to earn adrenaline, which unlocks more bikes, paint jobs, and more courses.
Driving your virtual BMX and performing tricks is arguably easier than learning how to pedal your first trike. Your middle finger controls your handlebars, and your index finger controls the speed of your bike. If you remove your index finger from the bike seat, you slow down. By swiping your fingers in different directions, you can pull off all sorts of cool tricks. An easy three-stage tutorial is offered at the start of the game to give you a good idea of how to pull off the game’s basic tricks (bar spins, tailwhips, flips), and goes on to elaborate how linking up those tricks can help you score big.
Don’t forget to stretch your fingers first.
The physics in Touchgrind BMX snap together nicely, and it’s not often you’ll miss a trick or a jump because of poor response. Every move you pull off just feels good, and you can’t help but swell a bit with pride when you rack up adrenaline and open up more neat stuff in-game.
There are a few issues with Touchgrind BMX, and alas, they’re heavy. If you’re playing on an iPhone or an iPod Touch, your fingers take up a great deal of the screen. This can make it pretty hard to see where you’re going, especially in later courses, which tend to be especially rock-strewn. Prepare to bounce off some immovable objects. It would be nice if Illusion Labs included a difficulty setting that could clear away some of the debris. It would also be nice if the game included a free-play mode wherein you could just toodle around on your BMX and practice the flips, jumps, and spins that are necessary to advance.
The achievement-based scoring system might turn off some players, too. If you can’t pull off the very specific list of commands that are issued in each level, you’re going to be stuck on the same levels and with the same bikes for quite a long time.
Despite its flaws, Touchgrind BMX is a nifty little time-waster with some very impressive graphics (and the game runs beautifully on a 3G, for a change!). Download it and give your fingers some much-needed exercise. Just don’t play it in class; getting your iPhone confiscated in class is a lot more inconvenient than the snatching of a mere finger-sized skateboard.