Toy stunt bikes, skateboards, and their accessories have firmly ingrained themselves into society's everyday kitsch. In the checkout line, at the toy store, while you're paying for gas - they're everywhere. So it only makes sense that someone would give the fad its own video game, which is exactly what Activision's Road Champs BXS Stunt Biking aims to do. Surprisingly, the game isn't just an attempt to cash in on a passing trend - it's also a decent addition to any stunt-bike aficionado's collection.
Getting into Road Champs is easy enough: select training mode, and you're off to the races. The game's career and tournament modes are off-limits until you complete all 26 training stages. It may sound annoying, but the practice is worth it. There are more than 50 tricks to learn, combine, and master, and unless you learn the game's advanced techniques, you'll never survive the main tournament. Performing tricks is remarkably easy: accelerate to build speed, then perform a directional pad motion or button press just prior to or after you reach an object. If your timing is right, all manner of no-handers, grinds, double bar spins, fufanus, and vertical nose pinches await your viewing pleasure. Overall, 27 unique environments are spread out across 64 stages of competition in Road Champs BXS Stunt Biking. A simple four-digit password system keeps it all in check.
Just like the game's solid gameplay, Road Champs' graphics and sound don't disappoint. Be it the tinny wisp of the wind, painful crash noises, or the catchy bass-laden soundtrack, the game's audio does its job - even if not spectacularly. The game turns in a similar showing visually. Developer HotGen didn't bog itself down with high-color cutscenes or FMV snippets. Instead, it has created a highly animated biker sprite and placed him in a number of colorful cartoon-style environments, a formula well suited to the game's underlying task: the performance of death-defying stunts. The choice to use a series of two-dimensional planes within a three-dimensional environment is also a trade-off that ultimately benefits the game.
If there is any real drawback to Road Champs BXS Stunt Biking (besides the fact that it doesn't break any new ground), it's that the game is a bit light in the way of overall variety. The game's three modes - even though each offers different locales and tasks - feel too much alike. Furthermore, 64 stages may seem like a lot - but once you're done, you're done. And quite possibly in three hours or less. Despite this one major flaw, however, it's a darn good ride while it lasts.