What, another Code Masters BMX game?! Yes, I'm afraid so. The programmer that brought you 4 Soccer Simulators has now come up with BMX Freestyle (76%). It's a great improvement on the original BMX game that had an overhead view and tiny bikes but BMX Freestyle is just too hard. All the graphics are excellent (what I've seen of them); well-defined bikes and backgrounds on most sections with the usual jolly Code Masters tunes and effects. The only problem is that it's almost impossible to get past the first section (wheelies), I did it once, only to foul up and squash my mates on the ramp section that comes after (splurt!). If you think you are skilled enough to do well, give this one a whirl.
In a way you can't really blame those Code Masters boys. BMX Simulator was their vastest seller, so it's not surprising that they keep trying to do it again with umpteen variations on that oh-so-successful theme. Bit boring for the rest of us, though, as yet another opportunity to perform wheelies, jump ramps, do the half pipe and so on appears on the shelves. Do we want to know any more? I certainly don't.
This game wants to be a sort of BMX equivalent of those Winter/Summer/World/California Games compilations, but it's infinitely more boring than any of those (yes, even California Games). It's all very slick, of course, but well past its Sell By date, and so rather stale and mouldy. Oh. hang on, I got that completely wrong — on the packaging David Darling says "They're all great - amazingly playable." Well, of course, how foolish of me not to notice. I think I better shoot myself in remorse. BANG!
Just what the world needs, you might think - is another BMX game. BMX Freestyle, thankfully, is pretty good, ignoring ridiculous novelties in favour of a good, basic stunt simulation.
The fabby, bouncy David Whittaker theme music and inter-game jingles are of a very high quality, though the in-game sound effects are unremarkable. The opening menu lets you choose your control method, select one or two players, and name the contestants; you then have to choose your event.
There are six events, some played simultaneously with a split-screen effect, some done in turn. Unfortunately, if there's only one player, the split-screen events have half of the display blank, which is a bit dull.
All the events demand a combination of joystick (or keyboard) co-ordination and precision with the fire-button. Animation and backgrounds aren't bad, but the main excitement lies in honing your BMX skills as you compete for the championship.
Event 1, Wheelie Trials, requires you to jump up on your back wheel, and travel as far as you can without toppling over backwards. Event two, Ramp Jumps, is more of the same - parallax scrolling backgrounds, joystick-waggling and fire-button bashing - but this time the aim is to leap over the ramps and make a safe landing.
Event three, is the Half Pipe. Each player has to ride from left to right inside the pipe, hitting the fire button to turn at just the right moment. The most turns in one minute wins.
Next up is the Tricks Track, where the aim is to pull off as many wheelies, spins and bunny-hops as you can without colliding with the many obstacles.
Next is Slow Race, where you have a vertical view of the track. You don't have to pedal here, just steer; veer off course or "stall" and you're out of the race The aim, of course, is to finish last!
Last event is quarter-pipe High Jump Here you take a run-up, pedalling furiously, and launch yourself into the air as you shoot off the end of the pipe. Again, you have to time your turn just right if you don't want to land in a crumpled (and disqualified) heap.
There's a comprehensive high-score table, and overall front-end design is fairly rad. I still reckon that if you're interested in BMXing, you'd probably rather be out there doing it than sitting at home simulating it on your Spectrum. Having said that, BMX Freestyle is one of the more sensible and enjoyable of the recent rash of BMX games, and it should shoot right to the top of the Christmas charts.
Author: Peter Williamson & Neil Adamson
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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