Freekstyle Review

The racing itself is fine, but the flawed trick system makes things more simplistic when it should have added more depth.

Freekstyle is a freestyle motocross game that bears the branding of EA Sports Big, Electronic Arts' extreme sports label, though aside from its packaging and soundtrack, it's actually a pretty cut-and-dried racing game--a game which, ironically, runs into its biggest problems when it tries to incorporate some extreme-sports-style mechanics into the gameplay.

The gameplay is what you might expect from a freestyle motocross game.
The gameplay is what you might expect from a freestyle motocross game.

The game sports three different modes--circuit, single race, and multiplayer--but all three are pretty much identical in content. The circuit mode is broken up into 10 different competitions, each consisting of several races that you'll need to place first in before you can advance to the next competition. When you first jump into the game, you'll likely spend all of your time in the circuit mode, since that is where you can improve the stats of your bike, as well as unlock new bikes, tracks, and riders for the single race and multiplayer modes.

The track designs in Freekstyle mimic the feel of freestyle motocross courses, with dirt tracks, huge jumps, and lots of serpentine turns. Though the tracks have a basis in reality, the track designs get more extreme and the settings get more outlandish as you progress through the circuit mode. The gameplay is what you might expect from a freestyle motocross game on a handheld system, combining straightforward racing with a simple aerial trick system. All of the tricks are performed using the shoulder buttons, and the game is able to squeeze a pretty surprising number of tricks out of just two buttons.

The benefit of pulling off tricks is that it adds to your boost meter, as well as your freek meter, which, when maxed out, will give you several seconds of unlimited boost. The game rewards you more for pulling off multiple tricks in a row than for holding a single trick, though it doesn't reduce the value of a trick that is performed over and over again, which is where the primary problem with the trick system lies. The "cliffhanger," which is performed by pressing both shoulder buttons, can easily be performed two or three times during a jump, and it nets you a whole lot of boost, eliminating the need for you to vary your tricks even slightly. There are some other little bugs that keep the gameplay from being as enjoyable as it could be, such as when you wreck against invisible boundaries while airborne or when you collide with another rider in the air and actually bounce backward.

Freekstyle's graphics use crude polygonal riders on prerendered tracks, which you'll view from an isometric perspective. The visual style is obviously cribbed from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the GBA, though the games have little else in common. The riders, though simple, do their job effectively, and the animations as you careen around corners and pull off aerial stunts effectively convey the feeling that you're always on the verge of disaster. The tracks look fine, though you'll notice lots of graphical elements reused in different environments.

The riders, though simple, do their job effectively.
The riders, though simple, do their job effectively.

The most technically impressive aspect of Freekstyle is its soundtrack. Though the in-game sound effects are mostly limited to the rather tinny howl of the bikes' motors, the soundtrack features lengthy samples of a half-dozen or so of the songs featured in the console version of Freekstyle. It's remarkable, and similar to what a few other games have pulled off, though to what extent this will thrill you will depend on how much you like heavy metal, since most of the songs fall into that genre of music.

Freekstyle on the GBA is a fair facsimile of its console counterpart, though it suffers from several issues that its bigger brother was not subject to. The racing itself is fine, but the flawed trick system makes things more simplistic when its actual intention is to add some depth, which is unfortunate, and it makes the game less recommendable than it would have been otherwise.

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Freekstyle More Info

  • First Released Jun 17, 2002
    • Game Boy Advance
    • GameCube
    • PlayStation 2
    While it's not the motocross equivalent of SSX, EA Sports Big's first excursion on dirt is worth a look for those who enjoy a stiff challenge.
    Average Rating472 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Full Fat, Page 44 Studios
    Published by:
    Destination Software, Zoo Digital Publishing, EA Sports, Electronic Arts, EA Sports Big
    Arcade, Driving/Racing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Comic Mischief, Mild Language