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Mad Skills BMX review: Mad Skills BMX

If you like a serious challenge, this racing game has all the bells and whistles, offering plenty of free content and several tracks to thrill and frustrate you.

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Jason Parker
Jason_Parker.jpg

Jason Parker

Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

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Mad Skills BMX (iOS - Universal) is the spiritual sequel to one of my favorite games from a couple of years ago, Mad Skills Motocross. The game is similar to the original (and as addictive), but a different control scheme, new challenges, and upgraded graphics put this version in a league all its own.

Mad Skills BMX
9.4

Mad Skills BMX

The Good

<b>Mad Skills BMX</b> has beautiful graphics, tons of tracks to race on, and a whole new control scheme to make it one of the best 2D racers yet.

The Bad

The game is so challenging that some will quit out of frustration. Controls are so hard to master, you'll need to repeat levels several times to pass them.

The Bottom Line

If you like a serious challenge, this racing game has all the bells and whistles, offering plenty of free content and several tracks to thrill and frustrate you.

The graphics in Mad Skills BMX are a huge step up over the original. A closer viewpoint brings the bikes into greater detail and a sort of cel-shaded art scheme gives the racers and tracks a cartoonish but detailed look.

The folks at developer Turborilla recognize that the technique involved in riding a real BMX bike is quite different than that of motocross, and the game accounts for the differences with a new control scheme. You touch the left side of the screen to pedal, but it's the swipes and gestures on the right side that take the most mastery and make the game interesting.

Challenge yourself with Mad Skills BMX (pictures)

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On the first tutorial level, the game will show you with onscreen graphics how to perform the different moves. A swipe down and hold rushes your bike downward so you can get the most out of down slopes in the racetrack, but it also makes your racer perform wheelies -- the fastest way to race through what the game calls "whoops" (rolling jumps). A swipe up makes your racer jump.

A swipe and hold to the left or right while in the air performs a flip. Flips are a great way to get a little extra boost, because they give you 4 seconds of fast-pedaling adrenaline. For each of these moves, it's hard to master the timing to get the most speed out of every track, so expect a difficult learning curve in the beginning. Actually, expect a difficult learning curve the further you go -- this game is not easy.

Mad Skills BMX comes with 40 tracks across novice, intermediate, expert, and pro skill levels, each with their own 10-track pack. When you complete a track, you can continue on to the next even if you didn't win, but you won't be able to move on to the next skill level track pack without completing the previous pack. Like Mad Skills Motocross, this game quickly gets very difficult, so you'll have to master your moves to progress to the harder levels. I should note that for this reason, not everybody will enjoy this game, mainly because the frustration level can be quite high. But if you're up for a challenge and don't mind repeating levels to get a perfect race, you'll love this game.

Mad Skills BMX
Once you master the swipe-down-and-hold move, you'll speed down hills. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Unlike Mad Skills Motocross, this game has a multiplayer component. You can sign in through Facebook, then challenge your Facebook friends who own the game to a head-to-head match. In my early testing, nobody yet owned the game, so I'll have to update this review when I get a chance to challenge my friends.

The game also offers a few extras to round it out. You get some options for your character design, with complete makeovers and color schemes that really change up the look. You have the option to buy a few character designs through in-app purchase too, but the game comes with five variations so it's pretty easy to skip paying for more. The original game, Mad Skills Motocross, later received several updates for both free and paid map packs that only added to the fun and Turborilla promises the same treatment for this game. Like I said, the original was one of my favorite games a couple of years ago, for the action as well as the frequent updates, and this BMX version promises to be another great racing experience.

With tons of tracks, moves to master, beautiful graphics, and pinpoint racing timing, Mad Skills BMX is a great addition to any racing game fan's iPhone app library. If you like 2D racing games and real challenge, I can't recommend this game more.

Mad Skills BMX
9.4

Mad Skills BMX

Score Breakdown

Setup 10Features 9Interface 9Performance 10