Check out Acclaim's response to the controversy detailed below. Click here.
Acclaim officially changed the name from Dave Mirra BMX XXX to simply BMX XXX last August, signalling a difference from the Dave Mirra franchise. Dave Mirra 3 will be published by Acclaim, although not developed by longtime Dave Mirra developer, Z-Axis, who have been bought by Activision.
Announced on October 15, 2002, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and KB Toys have all stated they will not sell BMX XXX in their stores, citing the game's bawdy humor as inappropriate. Wal-Mart spokesman, Tom Williams, stated, "We're not going to carry any software with any vulgarity or nudity-we're just not going to do it." Acclaim spokesman, Gregory Fischbach, stated the retailers had missed the point of the game, which is a spoof. Certainly this view is supported by our own experience speaking with Shawn Rosen, producer on BMX XXX, at this year's E3 show.
It is interesting that these retailers are putting their collective foot down about a game featuring nudity and sexual innuendo presented in a humorous manner, yet they have no problem stocking their shelves with the many, many games featuring explicit, graphic violence. However, this dichotomy has been an aspect of American culture throughout the 20th Century, and showing people getting their heads blown off has never been as inappropriate as showing people getting it on.
A source close to GameDaily, a videogame industry newsletter, has said that the PS2 version of BMX XXX may be toned down, although Xbox and Gamecube versions of the game will remain as lewd as ever.
BMX XXX is set to release November 19, 2002.
What can we do with the extreme sports genre? Sure, there are games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Amped that really make the simulation experience sublime, but what about all the other extreme sports and athletes. Activision has a pretty decent lock on the simulation genre with their O2 series. SSX took snowboarding to the fantastic edge of hyperreality, sidestepping any real comparisons with simulation oriented titles, and to a large extent that's what Jet Set Radio did, too. THQ has tried to break out of the mold with Dark Summit and Toxic Grind, both of which incorporate a storyline. Many companies are trying to satisfy (or seize, depending on your point of view) a market made up of people who love the extreme sports culture more than the sports themselves. So it wasn't surprising when I met Shawn Rosen, a longtime Producer on the Dave Mirra series by Acclaim and Z-Axis, and he described the latest installment, Dave Mirra BMX XXX, as "kind of like GTA3."
It is kind of like GTA3, but let's not take the comparison too far – GTA3 is built around cars while XXX is built around bikes, and although it lacks in the gratuitous violence area, Dave Mirra BMX XXX is a much badder game than GTA3. And the gist of Rosen's comparison focused more on how both games strive to offer a freeplay style rather than boxing gamers into the standard level-oriented play (although in XXX the freeplay is divided into levels such as Monaco, Las Vegas, and the Dam). The game has shed many of the traditional trappings of the Dave Mirra series, and although the trick and riding systems are all there (and beefed up, even), this is a very different kind of experience. In a pitch meeting I might sum it up as, "GTA3 meets Howard Stern on bikes."
Let's lay it all out on the table right away – I could tell you about how Mirra's game was always better feeling than Hoffman's and the solid parts are still here. Better even. I could tell you about support for online rankings and trading custom parks online. There is a feature that allows you to view challenges through the eyes of the computer AI, making it perfectly clear what you should do in the game. I could tell you about how the graphics engine has been improve and everything is looking a bit spiffier, and in general this game seems like a good successor to the Dave Mirra series. But what you really want to hear about is how Dave Mirra BMX XXX pulls out all the stops and offers loads of swearing, tasteless jokes, random insanity, and actual, nekkid, real-video-not-game-graphics footage of strippers. So there you go. All of that is there. It's not hidden; it's no extra easter egg; it's completely, obviously, blatantly, there. According to Rosen, the ESRB told him he could keep a "Mature" rating on the game as long as it does not feature coitus, which would warrant an "Adults Only" rating, and all three of the console biggies have been notified. It looks like XXX will actually happen.
We don't want to condemn a game before it is actually released, and we may not even want to condemn it afterward. But some folks are very turned off by the limited details we do know. Create a rider is there, and you can create female riders. That's OK, but what upsets some folks is that you can ride your female character topless and you have control over breast size. Also, the "boob jiggle technology" is on par with the DOA series which might send you over the top if you're squeamish about things like that. I can sympathize with the equal rights issues here – shouldn't we be able to take the pants off the guys? Why not?
Gameplay has you starting in a city, cruising around doing tricks. You have no set goals until you approach a non-player character. Each NPC will give you a challenge. Complete the challenge and something exciting will happen. For example, you may come across a prostitute. She will ask you to do tricks. If you fail, she says something along the lines of, "You suck more than me." If you succeed she shows you her breasts. This is a relatively simple task. Some scenes are much more complex involving things like street cleaners, bums, children peeing in pools, flipping giant power switches, etc. In general everyone is really foulmouthed and absurd. Some tasks involve getting add-ons to your bike, like the one that requires you to attach the leaf blower to your bike and shoot it towards the guy who just mumbles "Blow me!" all the time. Complete enough challenges and you open new sections of the city, making for eight major levels overall. As you progress you'll find lots of easter eggs. For example, ride into Scores ("It's Howard Stern's favorite strip club," Rosen bragged during our meeting) and you can pay strippers to get naked. You'll need to do a lot of tasks to earn the bucks it'll take to get them to go all the way, but you can.
Oddly enough, Dave Mirra BMX XXX just might prove that you don't have to offer lots of homicide to create an involving experience on par with GTA3. Wacky mayhem and general bawdiness could do the trick. Rosen and his team seem to have that angle, hiring professional comedy writers to create the script, and I have to applaud him for that. I believe that sometimes barriers like these just have to be broken for the sake of breaking them. What can I say? I really dug Conker's Bad Fur Day. I don't think videogames harm the youth, and I don't think things like South Park or Black Sabbath do either. Rosen exudes the right attitude for the game, aware that people will rail against it and that other people will line up to buy it. My biggest worry about Dave Mirra XXX is that it won't live up to its Meatballs and Revenge of the Nerds aspirations and will become a watered down pseudo-transgressive crapfest like American Pie. If we're going to get on this ride, then the ride better be good, dammit. Don't wuss out on us, Acclaim.
Dave Mirra BMX XXX will be pissing off moms everywhere this Fall.