Mirra, Mirra on the wall, who art the fairest of them all? Sporting the official likeness of professional BMX guru Dave Mirra, Acclaim's Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX offers eight courses of stunt-biking excitement, as well as a number of challenging multiplayer modes. Because Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is the only BMX stunt-biking game available for the Game Boy Color, at least for the next few weeks, it pretty much wins the "fairest of them all" contest by default. Thankfully, the game's huge 3D isometric environments, fluid animation, and intricate trick system make such a designation easy to swallow. The game's not Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 by any stretch of the imagination, but - if you'll pardon the pun - it's a fairly enjoyable ride.
Playing Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX is easy enough. Select career mode and you're off to the races. You'll then find yourself on a bike planted in the middle of a grassy field. Pushing up on the directional pad pedals the bike, while a gentle nudge left or right steers. As you amble along, checking out the colorful 3D environments, all of which are ripe with grass, trees, ramps, rails, and other assorted goodies, you can't help but feel awestruck at the level of graphical detail in the game. Ramps, walls, trees, and buildings are all intricately designed, not only for visual enjoyment but for gameplay usefulness as well. Indeed, with a tap of the A button and a push on the directional pad, you can take advantage of whatever happens to be lying around to perform such tricks as no handers, tail whips, inverted X's, 360s, and a whole host of other assorted skill maneuvers. In all, the game offers approximately 60 tricks for you to learn and master, some of which must be unlocked through the collection of on-course tire icons. Later levels bring you to such places as a rail-laden schoolyard, a half-pipe-heavy shopping district, and a shed-filled backyard circuit, each of which looks more wacky and wild than the course before it, while at the same time bringing new challenges. If you're going to unlock all eight of the game's tracks and upgrade your bike, you'll need to complete the three mission goals for each track, which is where the game's replay value comes in. There's a three-minute time limit for each course, and for the most part, it's impossible to fulfill all three mission goals in that time. Thus, you'll be returning to each course a few times to do such things as collect five spray bottles, perform three 360s, or accumulate 40,000 points.
Once you get past the game's flashy FMV intro and drop-dead gorgeous visuals, you really have to ask yourself if Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX plays as well as it looks. For the most part, yes, but there's a steep learning curve waiting for you, as well as a few naughty quirks mixed in for good measure. Performing tricks is as easy as hitting the A button combined with a direction, but most tricks have a delay in executing. If you think you can race up to a rail and grind it, think again - you're going to need to jump a second or two sooner than you'd like. Speaking of racing, learning to steer the bike itself is a daunting task. The darn thing both accelerates and steers just like a racing car, meaning that turning the wheel keeps the bike spinning in circles, while you're shooting across the track doing zero to 40 like a madman. If you give yourself time to acclimate to the control's and the undersensitive trick system, though, you'll find that Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX plays at least as well as you'd expect a handheld stunt-bike game to play.
Don't let the game's multiplayer minigames fool you - its real value lies in the career mode. Although you can delight yourself on any of the game's courses with stunt scoring and combo competitions, the game's multiplayer offerings aren't very deep. Imagine a turn-based practice mode that lacks link-cable support, and you won't be too far from the truth. With that said, a little bit of a learning curve and a few pieces of paper for recording passwords is all that stands between you and the game's career mode - a faithful rendition of BMX excitement if ever there was one. Just don't expect much in the way of sound. A few lame music tracks and two landing sound effects are all you get. It may not be perfect, but Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX plays well and looks awesome - two traits that will no doubt put it under many a tree this holiday season.