The whole BMX... well, I can't rightly call it a fad, because it's a thing -- a sport -- that, much like skateboarding, seems to have survived its own heyday pretty well.
BMX Simulator seems to have taken the Super Sprint approach to this event, with tiny participants sitting on their tiny BMX bikes all jonesing for a race around the seven or eight dirt tracks available in this game, fighting for victory and the glory that comes with it.
And what would a game like this be if it wouldn't allow up to two people compete in this game? Actually, with this game setup, I see no reason why the game wouldn't allow a third player on the keyboards, but that's probably just a nitpick. (Plus, it'd make it a bit crowded around said keyboard for reasons I'll go into a little later.) It's you... and a friend, if you're so inclined, and your goal is, much like the aforementioned cousin-in-spirit, to beat a somewhat tight time limit to the goal.
To do that, you have to master the awkward controls. The curved bends on the tracks can and will influence your controls somewhat as you race, and the way the competitors are presented by its sprites can often seem a little unfair, as the turning sprites differ from the ones where you ride straight ahead in whatever direction you're facing, which may lead to some oversteering or understeering, depending on the track, the curves or even how much you've adjusted to it. As such, BMX Simulator has a bit of a steep learning curve compared to more modern games. But on the flipside, it's encouraging to know that mastering this will at least give you an edge that won't be cheated by some kind of rubberband mechanic that have played a large part in ruining quite a few racing games of more... modern stylings.
However, that is not to say the game can be blatantly unfair, though. Well... maybe a little. Crashing is easy in this game. You will do so often, especially at first, and each time you do so will gnaw a little at your soul. But the most frustrating part of all this is that, yes, the computer controlled character CAN crash, but only against the backgrounds. If they hit you, however, they will quite happily leave you behind in whatever disgraceful heap you've landed into. This will lead to some particularly frustrating episodes where you, after working up a bit of a lead, crash and burn, only to be respawned just as the computer literally steamrolls you into the ground AGAIN, taking your lead and whatever composure you might have left over. And that is the day you will learn new phrases. Phrases you probably never knew before. Phrases that you will most certainly not repeat in front of your grandparents or the faint of heart.
As a final bit of nitpickiness, I would also like to address the control sceme of this game; namely the joystick controls. Funnily enough, I used to play this game with the keyboard controls -- it's a long story; mostly "we want to play Bubble Bobble but we only have one joystick" related stuff -- but that worked for me. I had already grown quite accustomed to keyboard controls. Anyway, for some reason, the joystick controls includes auto-brakes for some reason. Seriously, any time you're not pressing the joystick button to accelerate, your bike will apply the brakes automatically. For me, who had gotten accustomed to simply let my diminiutive character on his diminiutive BMX bike do the non-pedalling roll at times during some of the shorter stretches, this was extremely unwelcome, and not something I could actually alter.
Which is a shame, because BMX Simulator is a very fun game. Once you get used to the fiddly controls, you'll be zipping around the neatly designed tracks with gusto. Bring a friend, and it'll be even more teeth-gnashingly hilarious fun as you frantically try to avoid crashing into each other. (And if you thought getting your ass handed to you by the computer was fun, just wait until you also have to "untangle" yourself from your fellow competitor before even being able to put your mind back to the race itself.) It's actually kind of sporting of the game in that both competitors are better off NOT trying to play dirty, as the time limit on each stage is notoriously short. In fact, in the latter stages, it's better that you do not crash -- or even stray much off course -- at all.
|GRAPHICS - 7/10|
|The graphics are fairly simple in this game, the player sprites in particular. However, the tracks are generally really well designed -- each hay bale, each half-buried tire and each barrel easily distinguishable, the tires in particular through an ingenious use of shadows. The design in general is really easy on the eyes, and you even have a rather nice splash screen for the game itself. |
|SOUND - 7/10|
|The main theme of the game is actually a damn catchy tune in its own right, and one that you might be tempted to just sit and listen to. You might have to trick your Commodore in some way to be able to listen to the full loop, however, as waiting too long on the title screen makes the game fire up a test run on the first track. The in-game sound effects are limited to crash sounds and actual pedalling noise, which serves as a good indication of how fast you're going. Nice work altogether.|
|PLAYABILITY - 6/10|
|The controls of this game are, as I mentioned, fiddly. To dedicate yourself to this game means long hours of mastering it, and even then it's not a walk in the park. I have only vague memories of actually getting to the sixth or maybe even seventh track, and no memories of actually being able to complete it. The fact that the curves and bumps on the tracks will steer your BMX bike without your input is both a neat touch and incredibly frustrating, especially if you're playing with your friend and is caught up in a tense race against the tight time limit. Because if one of you doesn't manage to get to the goal in time, you're on your own against the computer after that, and it doesn't take ANY prisoners, if the many, MANY bodies in its wake is any indication.|
|OVERALL - 7/10|
|There is some actual polish in this game. It's a simple setup, and yes, I admit I think the game itself could be a little more generous on its difficulty. However, if you're the kind of person who like your game with a lot of carnage telling you when you screwed up, and screwed up bad, then this game is for you. BMX Simulator will happily laugh in the face of failure -- YOUR failure, and the fact that, even despite a piss-poor performance by you or anyone else, you'll still get the #1 trophy as long as you beat your opponent. As far as consolation prices go, that's gotta be one of the biggest and most painful kicks to the balls I've seen in any game ever.|