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We replay the classic BMX games and try to find out which one really was the best.

Words and video by Scott Connor

Nostalgia is defined by a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past. When discussing BMX video games, nostalgia is practically all we have. It’s been well over a decade (10 years, not the trick) since we’ve had a fully fledged 3D BMX game on any console. But why? Well, unfortunately for us, from the perspective of game publishers it’s just not deemed worthy to invest the time and money needed to produce a quality product.

The pinnacle of skateboarding video games was reached with EA‘s Skate series. They struck the perfect balance between realism and fun. However, after releasing three stellar and commercially successful titles, the development team behind the game was shut down and people have been campaigning for a 4th instalment ever since.

However, for BMX it’s been several generations of hardware since we last had a fully fledged game. The masses are hungry for such a game, that’s for sure.

Over the course of three articles we are going to replay what many consider the greatest BMX games ever made. We’ll try to form some objective opinions and see just how these games hold-up after all this time. Are they really still as fun as our monkey brains remember?

So, let’s get to it! Jumping straight in with quite possibly the greatest BMX game ever. A true classic that’s been marinating in nostalgia for almost 16 years. Yup, it’s really been that long…. 16 years!

First things first – respect to Dave Mirra, who tragically passed away in 2016. He will forever be loved and remembered by the BMX world. RIP Dave.


Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2

Oh man! Where to start… I’ve played this game more than any 30 year old should admit. Although I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard. It’s hard to believe that this was released in 2001 – that’s 16 years ago, half my lifetime! I’m attempting to put aside my subjective views on this legendary game. I need to look at things objectively, otherwise it’ll be a straight puff piece.

In the opinion of many riders who came up in the early 2000’s, Mirra 2 is the gold standard of BMX in gaming. Rightly so, as it’s still got a lot going for it, especially when you consider that it was released so long ago (in gaming terms).

That moment you drop in at Woodward to the sound of Gangstar’s ‘Moment of Truth’ is one that’s ingrained deeply into the mind of any rider from that era. Not to mention the other timeless tracks from Rage Against the Machine, The Cult, Black Sabbath, Sublime and A Tribe Called Quest, all of which are still being added to riders’ playlists today. (The less said about Sum 41 & GodSmack the better)

As expected, when replaying a game as old as this, it’s to be accepted that the graphic and animation qualities are going to seem antiquated. That is true, but by utilising modern computer technology I’m now running the game on my PC via emulation software. This enables me to upscale the resolution to 1080p with a buttery smooth frame rate of 60fps. These tweaks give the visuals something of a DIY HD remake and definitely help to make things easier on the eye by 2017 standards.

However, enhanced visuals can only make up for so much. It’s the feel of the gameplay and loose physics mechanics that start to show the true age of the game. We are living in the days of realism and intuitive controls, neither of which are really present here. But I can appreciate that, as the control scheme of Mirra was essentially a clone of the Tony Hawk games and at that time was the best available. There are some major flaws though – how can you allow for a flair from a bunny hop, yet not be able to tailwhip from a hop? It’s these mechanics that really let the game down.

Today’s riding style doesn’t translate well into the gameplay either, you just hop too high and move way too fast to be able to link up tech combos. It’s too clunky for such finesse. The same can be said for transitions, but that’s not too big an issue as you can boost 30ft out of a quarter, bust a no-handed nothing quadwhip and land flat as smooth as butter. #STEEZE

The game is still as fun as ever, that’s not changed. I believe it’s us and the expectations of the games that we play today that have changed.

The big question is – how does Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 compare to it’s biggest rival, Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 2? That’s a very good question. Check back in part 2 to find out…





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