Mad Skills BMX
Tricky to get to grips with, but a fine competitive racer.
Physics racers are a bit of a mixed bag on mobiles, and we've yet to see a game successfully marry precision touchscreen controls with the physics engine experience of console heavyweight such as Trials. Many have tried, but only a few have managed to deliver a satisfying experience.
Next up for the challenge is Mad Skills BMX, and the first thing that will strike you about the game is how incredibly pretty it is. The artwork has a very crisp cel-shaded look to it, and the animations look great as you leap and spin your way over the game's many courses. There's a catchy soundtrack too, although if you have a low threshold for teenage boy-band rawk you may find it a little grating after a while.
Starting off in the Novice levels, you'll race against a reasonably forgiving AI competitor with some simple leaps, hops and valleys to negotiate with directional touchscreen swipes. Win enough of these races and you'll get to move on to the Intermediate stage, with Expert and Pro tracks to be unlocked later on. If you're impatient, you can unlock every stage by spending a little additional cash.
While the levels are all nicely designed, it's the replay system that adds the most fun to the game. Here you can either compete against your previous best ghosted time, or even take on the might of your Game Center friends. It's a great way of adding longevity to the game, even when you've completed the many and varied obstacle courses on offer in the single player campaign.
Where this racer falls down a little is the break-neck speed with which you're introduced to the controls. In the space of a couple of opening levels, you're given swiping instructions that'll see you leap, bunny-hop, flail and jump across the landscape, with barely a moment's pause to practice before the next one is hurled at you. It makes for a unfriendly introduction, and the poor pacing will put a lot of newcomers off the game. A pity, and a disservice to the over-riding quality found elsewhere in the title.
If you have the patience to master even the very basics of the game, then we certainly recommend taking Mad Skills BMX for a ride. Learning curve aside, it's one of the most competent competitive racers available on the App Store, and the multiplayer and ghost-racing components will give you considerably more value for money than the majority of the competition will.
What's Hot: Great level design, and a competitive replay system that will keep you coming back for more.
What's Not: An awkward learning curve holds the game back from its potential.