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by Activision

4-01.jpg (9489 bytes)The success of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater seems undamagable. No matter who has done ports of the game and what system it has shown up on (except GBC, but we’ll let that slide), it is always good. Such was the way with THPS2 for the Game Boy Advance, which kept me playing all summer. Unfortunately, Activisions O2 lineup (Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX, Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder, and Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer) has not matched the glory of the THPS franchise. Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX was a disappointment on the PSOne, and it’s much, much worse on the GBA.

2-01.jpg (9722 bytes)Of course the game looks great. It features bright, colorful graphics that are easy to see, and the riders look like they’re actually doing the trick they’re supposed to do. It also features all the riders from the PSOne version, including Hoffman and seven other pro BMX stars. The large number of riders to choose from, and the replayability of each pro career, would be a major boon if the game were worth playing through once, which it isn’t.

First picking up the game, it seems impossible to play, as if something seriously went wrong with the control. After running through the tutorial it turns out that the control isn’t so bad, but something went seriously wrong with the whole basic concept of the game. Playing Pro BMX, or even Pro Skater, is all about freedom and freestyle. You want to ride wherever and trick off whatever obstacle you see. Unfortunately in MHPB you are stuck trying to work within the constraints of the game design.

5-01.jpg (10046 bytes)Each level is presented in an isometric view, similar to THPS2 on GBA. What is very different is that you have almost no control over the movement of your bike. You play the game on horizontal lines, and you can only switch between horizontal lines when you are on the flat, and then you can only switch between lines very close to you. So, for example, if you wanted to reach the exit of a ramp, you may have to traverse the ramp three or four times before you can actually move your rider down far enough on the screen. Add in the complication caused by the isometric view (various entries, exits and obstacles get hidden behind various others), and you’ve got a really not fun game.

It doesn’t matter that the graphics are pretty great or that the tricks are easy to pull off and look really cool. The game defeats you before you even begin. Going through the tutorial mode you slowly realize the horror you’ll experience at the hands of this ill-thought control scheme. Because the whole game is about riding your bike, there’s no way to avoid the insanely crummy controls.

3-01.jpg (10344 bytes)MHPB does feature some good multiplayer options, but the link requires another cartridge and, again, you’ll be riding that bike the whole time. I cannot stress enough how little fun it is wrestling with this game, and the effort takes away from any joy you might experience playing it. Unless both you and your friend are huge, and I mean HUGE, Mat Hoffman or BMX fans, it would be cruel to recommend a purchase on this game just to play multiplayer.

Overall, Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX is a flop. While a GBA port similar to THPS2 would have done the trick and made this another great title, the bizarre decision to keep the control as awkward as it was on the GBC ruins the whole package. I do enjoy extreme sports games, and I was looking forward to this one, so it’s with deep sadness (and possibly optimism for the sequel) that I warn any and everyone away from MHPB for the GBA.

Shawn Rider   (12/11/2001)


Ups: Nice graphics.

Downs: Incredibly limited movement; frustrating isometric perspective.

Platform: GBA