reviews\ Dec 30, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 - GBA - Review

Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 is unquestionably the perfect example of a 180 degree turn.  We all know how the GBA version of  Dave Mirra 2 turned out.  But what surprised me -- and will likely surprise you -- is how incredibly entertaining Dave Mirra 3 is.  What Full-Fat didn't do before, they've done now, shoving more BMX biking goodness into the game than you can shake a pro skater at.  Even more surprising is the fact that they did it without having a console version to base the game on!

There are many gameplay aspects worth mentioning, but first I'd like to give Full-Fat some major kudos for creating all-new levels for the game.  Technically, the levels are 2D, but they give the illusion of three-dimensional gameplay by having a number of layers for the player to climb.  The best way to describe each level would be to call it an extremely intricate mountain, one that's filled with ramps, pipes, half-pipes and several grind-able objects that you can use to make it to the top.  I don't know if these are scaled-down adaptions of the levels being created for the console versions, or if they were designed entirely for the Game Boy Advance.  Either way, there's no denying how good they are.

Because of the 2D design of the game, there are times when you'll be standing below a building, but it'll appear as if you're standing right next to it.  Then you try to ride toward it (thinking you'll be on the roof) and end up slamming into the side of the building.  Tiny dots outline your biker, allowing you to see him even when the view is blocked by a large object, but it takes a little bit of time to get used to.

This is easily forgotten though, thanks to the game's superb controls.  Tony Hawk 2 GBA might have finally met its match.  Maneuvering your biker around each level is as easy as a game like this can get.  If you have any experience at all with extreme sports games, you'll have no trouble getting the hang of Dave Mirra 3. 

Newcomers may find the controls a bit odd at first, especially the jumping.  The camera angle stays the same throughout the whole game, regardless of which direction you're riding in.  This makes landing jumps a little different from what console players may be used to.  If you hop off a ramp that's pointed toward the left side of the screen, then you must land with your bike positioned in that direction.  Since the GBA can only produce a limited amount of polygons, there wouldn't have been any other way to create this game -- or any other extreme sports title on the system -- without a control setup like this.  It seems strange at first, but once mastered, you'll jump and land tricks naturally without even thinking about it.

Speaking of tricks, Dave Mirra 3 has a great list of tricks (1000+!) to perform, and a nearly endless list of combos that can be created with them. 

Dave Mirra 3 also uses a clever trick upgrade system.  By performing any trick eight times, its level will rise to 2 and the points earned for performing that particular trick will increase by 25%.  Perform that trick an additional 16 times to increase its point value by another 25%.  Each trick can reach level 5, increasing their total point value by more than 100%!  Trick points still diminish temporarily when performed consecutively during a run, but with this new upgrade system in place, players won't be wasting their time if they feel the urge to pull a Front Peg Grab several times in a row.

Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 is a must-have Game Boy Advance game.  Freestyle BMX biking fans looking for that special game to complete their collection can end their journey with Full-Fat's unbeatable sequel.  Even Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 can't compare (in some aspects).  The levels are all-new and extremely well designed, and there are more of them than you'd expect (eight in all).  The gameplay is faster and smoother, and the soundtrack is packed with a small selection of old and new rock songs from REAL artists (Green Day, Saliva and New Found Glory, among others).  Yeah, there's still a time limit, which is surprising considering how well the console versions of Aggressive Inline played without one.  But like Tony Hawk 2, you don't usually feel rushed, and most of the item-collecting objectives (find five spray paint cans; find five tools; find the letters to spell out M-I-R-R-A, etc.) are easy enough to complete within a few runs.  Full-Fat should be given a round of applause for creating a sequel with so many improvements.  If you were lucky enough to receive some cash for Christmas, Dave Mirra 3 is where it should be spent.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8
Dave Mirra 3 is an enormous improvement over the previous game.  Even if you don't like extreme sports games, chances are you'll enjoy this one.

Graphics: 7 
Dave Mirra 3 definitely looks better than its predecessor, but it doesn't really do anything to push the graphical limits of the GBA.  We've seen these graphic techniques before, and we'll probably see them again.

Sound: 8
Saliva, Green Day and New Found Glory, along with N.E.R.D., Sludgefeast, Ten Foot Pole and Taking Back Sunday provide Dave Mirra 3 with an enjoyable soundtrack.  You don't get to hear the whole song (perhaps due to their large, megabyte-devouring size?), but as with Aggressive Inline, vocals are used, and the sound quality isn't too bad.

Difficulty: Medium
Dave Mirra 3 is both easy and challenging.  It's easy to perform tricks, and it's usually not that hard to spell "M-I-R-R-A," but somehow or other it's still pretty challenging.  More often than not, the last objective in a level is the hardest to complete!

Concept: 7 
BMX games have been done before on the GBA, but never this well.  The addition of the trick upgrade system is great.

Multiplayer: 7
As usual, the single-player mode is where the real fun lies, but if your friend has a copy of the game and his own GBA, you can link-up for some two player action.

Overall: 8
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 is an incredible sequel.  I am astounded by all of the improvements that Full-Fat made to the game, and they did it in a relatively short amount of time.  Christmas may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to another present.


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