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Game Profile
Game Boy
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 19, 2002
Dave Mirra BMX Challenge

Dave Mirra BMX Challenge




More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on February 06, 2003

Review: THPS2 graphics + THPS3 gameplay + BMX license.

It is a pity that Mirra 3 on the GBA brings absolutely nothing new to the genre and platform, because it is an all around solid game.Mirra 3 comes to the GBA in lieu of BMX XXX that was released across all three consoles not too long ago. Acclaim, wisely acknowledging that the GBA's hardware and target audience are incompatible with XXX's crude humor, profanity, and shocking nudity, decided to instead spawn a new game in the venerable Dave Mirra series. Despite being a new game, this title is based off the quite dated Mirra 2 GBA engine, which while still functional, has been trumped twice over by the last two Tony Hawk handheld iterations. Interestingly enough, Mirra 3 throws out the newest generation of extreme sports gameplay to create a throwback to previous years' styles, mainly, a classic career mode that retains the confining two-minute time limits and small number of objectives and goals that must be completed. This game has much more in common with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and (unsurprisingly) Dave Mirra 2 than Aggressive Inline or THPS4.

In Dave Mirra 3 you take your character through a career spanning nine giant BMX parks loaded with the types of goals you would expect from a game of this caliber. Dave Mirra (or one of four other professional bikers), or one of three riders you create, will have to run through two minute clocked sessions, busting grinds, air tricks, and overcoming obstacles in order to accrue a set amount of points, or collect certain items. From a gameplay standpoint, there is nothing new in Mirra 3, and even the parks, though fun, offer nothing we have not already seen time and time again. Fortunately the trick system is more robust than ever, featuring improved and realistic animations. The only issue that mars the experience is a relic of Mirra 2 on the GBA: too critical collision detection. You will particularly feel it when trying to link a line of grinds, as your timing and positioning must be much more exact than you would expect, having played other games in this genre. On a multiplayer front, a two-player mode similar to Aggressive Inline has been incorporated, and does freshen up the experience.

While the gameplay is a throwback to yesteryears' iterations of popular and successful extreme sports handheld titles, unfortunately, so are the graphics. The characters look even worse than the THPS2 GBA debut, which came out on the system's launch. Constructed of only a few unshaded and untextured polygons they look decent enough in game, but on the character select screen, they look unforgivably bad. Both THPS3 and the recent THPS4 on the GBA feature polygonal models with decent textures that help to flesh out the graphics. There is no valid reason for Mirra 3 to lack this technology, though perhaps it is unsurprising given that the game engine is relatively unchanged from Mirra 2. On a positive note, the stages look nice and are vast, giving fans a lot territory to explore and trick off of.

Easily the most significant improvement over the previous game in the series is Full Fat's faithful implementation of licensed music in Mirra 3. Licensed songs from Green Day, Sludgefeast, Ten Foot Pole, Saliva, New Found Glory, and N.E.R.D. round out Mirra 3's soundscape. The songs do not show up in their entirety but consist of 45 (or so) second-long looping samples of their most popular songs. The quality of the recording and playback on the GBA is unrivaled, especially through a good set of headphones. The only problem with this selection would be if you were not a fan of the musical styles these songs encompass. From a technical standpoint, the decision to not include a randomizing player in the game is disappointing. Each stage defaults to a song, which will loop endlessly until the stage is completed, or the player manually selects another song, an aggravation either way. As amazing and impressive as it is to listen to coming from a GBA, the music's implementation simply was not thought out well. It bears mentioning that most of the sound effects you would expect to hear from a BMX extreme sports title show up faithfully in Mirra 3.

Bottom Line
Honestly, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 for the Game Boy Advance features many innovations and improvements to the handheld extreme sports genre. While it is true that Aggressive Inline pioneered these ideas on the consoles, THPS4 successfully carried them over to the Game Boy Advance. For that reason, going back to the style incorporated in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3 lends itself to a stale, though admittedly fun experience. Mirra 3 accomplishes much of what it sets out to do, and as such is an engaging and rewarding experience. However, anyone hoping for something new in handheld extreme sports, or at least expecting a game that redefines BMX the way THPS4 redefined skating will be disappointed by Acclaim's newest offering.

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