Review: I like big bumps and I cannot lie...
Forget those cheap plastic toys of the past that would lure you to your favorite fast food joint. Go to Burger King to pick up a Whopper, some fries and a drink, and leave with a video game for a paltry price. What a novel idea! BK's game lineup covers three unique titles, and between the two that feature (and are primarily for) multiplayer, Big Bumpin' easily trumps the other, Pocket Bike Racer. While not quite as complete as the single player-only Sneak King, Big Bumpin' delivers a bumpin' good time that harkens back to every childhood fantasy: unleashing a bumper car like a crazed lunatic.
Before you can take the action to the mean, colorful boards, you need a driver. Bumpin' features the same roster found in Pocket Bike Racer with King, Whopper Jr., S. Chicken, and Brooke Burke the available riders, and a few additional humanoids to round off the list. The ?create character? feature would lead you to believe that you can invent your own driver, but this shallow feature merely lets you edit the most insignificant aspects of the current lineup. You can change your driver's hair color. Or, you could also change the color of his pants. Or, you could even change the skin tone. Amazing! What a misleading and pointless feature. But the rabbit hole goes deeper, because the game reboots when you try to exit back to the main menu, forcing you to skip through the game's opening splash pages all over again. Apparently Burger King's motto ?Have it your way? only applies to their food.
Each minigame was designed with four players in mind, so the game excels more in multiplayer than single-player, but the aggressive, unpredictable artificial intelligence will still challenge those who tackle the game solo. In free ride, you can get the hang of each game's main objective. And once you feel fit, you can enter a tournament. Finish a tournament with a respectable placing and you'll unlock further tournaments and additional cars. Yes, Big Bumpin' contains a lot of bumpin', rammin', and knockin' into other bumper cars, but alas, not every mode is about bumpin' the life out of the next driver, although the barbarian in you will inevitably come out no matter the situation.
Bumpin' Hockey, which is more or less life-sized air hockey meets life-sized pinball, is an example. While the proverbial hockey fight isn't one of its included features, this mode still puts a fun twist on hockey. You maneuver a big puck with your bumper in hopes of guiding it into your opponent's goal. It's air hockey at its finest. Between the goalposts are life-sized pinball bumpers that will quickly change the puck's momentum if touched. You'll also find regenerating power-ups, changing the dynamics of the game and the ball. One power-up turns the puck into a nearly immovable anvil. Another one allows you to latch onto the puck and drag it behind you via a bolt of magnetic energy.
These equalizers add flavor to the game and present an interesting conflict for players: Do you attack the puck to score, duck out of the action for a power-up, or play the role of goalie? Or do you try to juggle all three tasks at the same time? The other minigame that employs a puck is Own the Puck, which implores players to keep control of the puck to reach a preordained score. Things can get messy when trying to fight for control with four bumper cars all clustered together and knocking each other back and forth, especially because these areas are ridden with maze-like obstructions. It's a nice change of pace from hockey, but isn't nearly as enticing.
The rest of Bumpin's games are more battle-driven and use life meters in one form or another. Last Man Standing is arguably the most entertaining of these, forcing players to ram others into spinning blades, nudge them over timed trap doors, or knock them completely off the arena's edges. Considering all the potential hazards, this particular bout normally ends in a matter of seconds. Obviously the last man standing is named the victor. Another game, Power Surge, makes players reach a charge point on one side of the arena, then make it to the deposit point without first being taken out by the competitors. And lastly is a game called Shockball, Bumpin's take on ?hot potato.? When time expires, you don't want to be the ?it? driver. Like Bumpin' Hockey, every mode generates power-ups to give players an edge, be it a speed boost, an impenetrable force field, or a magnetic charge. Individually, these games would grow old quickly. But collectively they contain enough variety to prevent Bumpin' from underachieving, in regards to its remarkably low price. And in spite of the game's brevity, the ability to play online against others in ranked matches adds a nice temporary diversion.
Bumpin's simplistic rules are complemented by an even simpler set of controls, or should we say, ?control?? Those with a short fuse can honk away all they want, but Blitz Games can't toot their horns about much else with its controls. See, the A button is used to ram, and there you have it. That's it. So simple even a caveman could do it. So with only one tangible function, all you have to worry about is maneuvering your bumper, an easy task thanks to the their tight handling.
While the fun with Big Bumpin' justifies its $3.99 billing, its technical aspects tend to be more reflective of its bargain-bin price. It's safe to say that, from a visual standpoint, Bumpin' won't be in the running for any awards. The lighting effects are about the only upside, but even those are easily trumped by most first-generation PS2 and Xbox titles. But more importantly, the frame-rate is reliable no matter how intense the action may become. As far as sound goes, expect your everyday sound effects coalesced with an assortment of carnival music and basic rock tunes--but no familiar Burger King melodies, unfortunately.