All extreme sports games owe something to Tony Hawk. That much is certain. Without the immense popularity of THPS there would probably not be much of a market for other similar games like Road Champs. So we thank you Tony Hawk for breathing new life into a tired genre and paving the way for more games where you can do tricks off of ramps. This allows us to do realistic things that we would never be allowed to do in real life without severe injury. With that said let's move on to the review.
After that intro you are probably thinking, "Another Tony Hawk clone. Big Deal." But I assure you that Road Champs borrows very little from Tony Hawk and actually has a completely different control scheme and feel. Taking more from Excitebike than Tony Hawk, Road Champs offers course after course of challenges that must be solved before the next level is to be played. This can get a bit annoying if you are the free spirited type, but if you are fine with the game directing where you go, then you will have an enjoyable time.
You start off slow, very slow, with training lessons. You learn how to turn the bike and how to do basic tricks off of each of the ramps. Then you learn more complicated tricks as well as grinds and stalls. Then it gets really complicated and you have to do monster tricks that require several button combinations. Then when you have mastered all of the tricks for a certain session you are put to the test and are required to do all of the in a certain amount of time. After you complete all of the training courses you can go on to the challenge levels with all of the new-found trick knowledge.
This process reminded me of the Karate Kid movie where Daniel is required to do a number of tasks (wax-on wax-off) that seem pointless until he realizes that he is being honed into a fighting machine. All of the training tasks in Road Champs are repetitive and seem to be unnecessary until you get onto an actual track. Then the training really begins to show as you bust out monster scores and have a real sense of control and how to navigate each of the courses.
The control in the game is probably where the game shines the most. With only two buttons and a controller at the developer's disposal they have managed to create quite a few different tricks and options in the control. Plus all of the tricks were capable of being pulled off without too much effort. After the training missions I was well versed in the control and it was never frustrating or annoying. Since there are so many tricks it feels like you have a multitude of options whenever you are approaching a ramp. Different kinds of ramps provide different trick options so on one level you could navigate the entire field and never repeat a trick.
The only problem that I saw in the game was the lack of diversity in the levels. Streets with ramps is pretty much all you are going to see. Actually I should clarify. The backgrounds are diverse and colorful but the foregrounds are streets with ramps. I understand that BMX's have a bit more limitations than other forms. It is not like skateboarding where you can do tricks off of anything, though maybe it should be. Where are the dirt mounds and pools? Why can't I grind on the fences? Thoughts for Road Champs 2.
I have to say that I really enjoyed Road Champs much more than I thought I was going to. The game is laid out very well so that it provides you with a growing experience not just levels to do tricks on. You have to practice and hone your craft in order to become a true master. Plus the game is packed with so many levels that you will find it difficult to complete them all especially if you just sit down to play. It possesses challenge without too much unnecessary difficulty and rewards you often. I wish I could say the same for the impossible-to-control-hard-to-score-points gameplay of Tony Hawk 2. Yes, Road Champs is a game that you can finish and feel like you really accomplished something. As the back of the box states it is truly the Ultimate BMX Experience!
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