App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Here’s how to best enjoy Trail Boss BMX: Put some headphones on, start playing your favorite Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack (or make your own), and go to town. This BMX biking game captures so much of what made those arcade-y skating games so fun without feeling like a cheap imitation.
In Trail Boss, you ride a bike through ridiculous outdoor courses that feature lots of ramps for you to do sick tricks off of. These courses are linear, but the goal of riding through them isn’t just to finish. Each of these courses has sets of challenges for you to complete on them, like landing specific tricks, riding through gates, hitting targets, or scaring birds off the course.
You won’t necessarily complete all of these challenges in a single ride, but that’s ok. Trail Boss encourages you to replay its courses, and it’s designed accordingly. Any given course takes less than a minute to complete, and hitting the restart button puts you right back at the beginning of a course almost instantly.
Ramp up the challenge
Just like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Trail Boss requires that you complete a certain number of challenges before unlocking new courses. As you get further into the game, you can also unlock additional challenges for old levels, meaning you’ll always have reasons to go back to the game’s old courses and you’ll almost never find yourself needing to replay a handful of levels to make forward progress.
Also as you get further into the game, Trail Boss unlocks additional tricks. There are multiple tiers of air tricks in addition to a “skid” move that allows you to earn points without being airborne. These new tools allow for new challenge designs to emerge later in the game, which prevents the experience from ever feeling too stale.
Close but no cigar
It’s kind of amazing how well Trail Boss channels the spirit of the Tony Hawk games while still maintaining its own, unique identity. That said, there are a few things that Trail Boss could do to elevate the experience.
The first of these things is personality. Trail Boss is mechanically interesting and competent, but it doesn’t quite have a distinct style or attitude. Playing it with some classic skater anthems certainly helps, but even then, Trail Boss can occasionally feel a little flat.
Secondly—and perhaps more important—is the game’s controls. Trail Boss has you tap the sides of the screen while on the ground to steer your bike left and right, but then swiping on the left side of the screen controls tricks while doing the same controls your rotation while airborne. This isn’t necessarily a bad system, but it is a little unintuitive, to the point that I have to play a few practice runs to reacquaint myself with the controls each time I play.
The bottom line
Trail Boss BMX understands the appeal of the Tony Hawk games, and finds smart and interesting ways to make that kind of game work on mobile. It may not make quite the same impression on you, but Trail Boss BMX is still great fun.