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Touchgrind BMX Review
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Touchgrind BMX, a first-of-its-kind BMX stuntfest for iOS, has been released by Illusion Labs and is now available from the app store. The spiritual successor to Touchgrind (the skateboarding game), BMX utilizes simple finger gestures and ramp-laden courses to provide ample opportunity to show off some insane tricks and rack up megascores.

Touchgrind BMX Pros:

  • Terrific 3D graphics with detailed terrains and fun physics
  • Exciting level designs full of ramps and obstacles
  • Intuitive two-fingertouch control method that allows for easy trick maneuvers
  • New bikes, locations, and paint jobs unlocked via objective completion
  • Save replays and upload to YouTube easily

Touchgrind BMX Cons:

  • No in-game music other than on menus
  • Controls can be unresponsive and some maneuvers are difficult using recommended method
  • No sandbox or practice mode, levels are mostly linear
  • Fairly steep learning curve
  • No social gaming network integration

The Touchgrind BMX universe contains different environments, with all but the first locked at the start. You begin at The Docks in South Africa, then move on to Inca Hills in South America, Skyline in Asia, Northland in Europe, and West Pier in the Pacific. Polar Ridge appears on the map, but won’t be available until the next update. There are 9 different bike styles available, each with multiple paint styles. All but the first of these are locked from the get-go, too. The method by which you unlock the additional game content is by earning Adrenaline points when you complete Challenge Objectives on each level. Each of the dozen objectives earns a set amount of points, and new bikes, paint jobs, and courses are unlocked at various point intervals. The objectives are varied from simple goals such as performing a double barsprin or doing a crooked trick to difficult tasks such as beating the Illusion Labs record (well over 1 million points per level) to riding each course without slowing down or crashing (easier said than done in most cases). Big point totals can also earn you bronze, silver, or gold medals that bring additional Adrenaline points.

The control method is similar to Touchgrind, though adapted a bit for BMX bikes. You need to place 2 finger on-screen to make the bike go, one on the handlebars and one on the seat. The handlebar finger controls steering by dragging left or right, while the seat finger controls your speed. Removing the seat finger acts as a brake to slow the bike and allow for more precise control through narrow passages and through twists and turns. A set of tutorial videos walks you through the ins and outs of controlling the bike. Swiping and releasing the handlebar finger causes a barspin, and swiping and releasing the seat finger initiates a tailspin. You’ll need to touch-hold the screen again to “catch” the spinning bike part in the proper position, or else you’ll crash. Spins require you to swipe and release your fingers in opposite horizontal directions or swipe and release in the same vertical direction. Flips are performed by swiping without releasing in opposite directions, either horizontally or vertically. Crooked tricks require both a horizontal swipe with one finger and a vertical swipe with the other.

Combo tricks score more points, and varying your maneuvers will also be more beneficial than doing the same trick over and over. Scoring over 10,000 points on a single jump will increase the multiplier bar, key for getting huge scores. Of course, failure to land a jump properly or crashing into an object will eliminate your built-up multiplier and you won’t score any points for the failed attempt. Each course has a number of obstacles to avoid, with courses following a fairly linear path. There are occasional options to take a minor alternate route, but everything always comes back to the main line. There is no free roam option, as yet.

Graphically, Touchgrind BMX looks great, with detailed locations and plenty of jumps to enjoy. The camera view is from behind the bike, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and watch the riderless bike perform its tricks. The viewpoint actually moves with the bike, too, when you are doing flips, mimicking the real-world feel of your whole body twisting with the bike. The game is not yet optimized with Retina Display support, but this should be added in an update. The bike styles and paint jobs add some nice visual variety, though nothing in the way of alternative stats for control, speed, jump height, or anything like that. The physics feel very accurate, and faster swipes result in quicker spins for big point totals. The menu soundtrack is pretty catchy, though it stops during the actual game, leaving you with only the sound effects from pedaling, landing, or crashing the bike. We would have enjoy an additional backing track during levels or the ability to play our own music.

The controls are strictly gesture-based and they work well for the most part, but we did feel that there was a good deal of unresponsiveness, as swipes wouldn’t trigger or some maneuvers are plain difficult to pull off. Using your index finger and middle finger, as suggested by the instructions, makes it near impossible to swipe in opposite directions. We found that using our thumbs made these types of tricks easier. There also appears to be some type of auto-targeting system for selecting pathways. Some courses have two or three jumps close to each other, but some are near-impossible to steer into, as the bike gets pulled into another almost every time. Also, because of the positioning of our fingers/thumbs on the screen, you are naturally obscuring a good portion of the course at all times, which is kind of a bummer, though a necessary evil for its unique control scheme, we suppose.

Replay value is great, not only for its pure addictiveness, but clearing all objectives should take a while and maxing out your scores could be a never-ending effort to squeeze every last point out of the game. There is also a very cool replay feature that allows you to watch your previous run using a whole lot of cinematic camera angles, as well as upload your best ones to YouTube or Facebook to show off to your friends. There is no social gaming integration, so checking out other people’s YouTube runs is the best way to gauge how you compare to others. It also would have been nice to have a practice area or free-roam mode to perfect your skills, rather than having to do so from within the actual game. For $4.99, Touchgrind BMX provides a solid 4-Dimple experience for the X Gamer in you.

Touchgrind BMX Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2011-05-30T22:07:28+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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