Breaking My Backlog #10 – Pumped BMX+ (Kind Of)

Breaking My Backlog is a semi-regular features on in which I attempt to complete my entire backlog before buying any new games. You can read more about the quest and see my backlog here.

This game is a mess. It’s a half-baked Tony Hawk Pro-Skater clone, but with half the complexity and none of the fun. You ride a bike down a hill, hit a few ramps, do a few tricks and try to complete a handful of challenges each course. None of the levels are as long or as interesting as THPS, your speed and control make zero sense, you only have one option of character, and the graphics and music feel generic and boring.

Don’t play this game.

I don’t want to talk about Pumped BMX+ anymore, though. I want to talk about Jason.

I met Jason in sixth grade in Mr. Roth’s class at McKinley Elementary School in Gering, NE. He was a fan of comics books and video games, so we hit it off immediately. He became my best friend, and that friendship continued even after I left the school. During our teenage years, we diverged quite a bit in our interests. I wrote, he drew. I continued to play video games and read comics books, he started skating.

It was during this time that I first played Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater.

I don’t exactly remember what led to it, but I ended up at Jason’s house, where he wanted to show me his new skating game. I had played skating games before, but nothing quite like this. There were not only multiple characters and stats, but all of the characters were actual skaters I had heard of, and a few I had even seen in skating videos I had watched at Jason’s house during previous visits.

He showed me the kinds of crazy tricks you could do in the game, lining up trick after trick, racking up high score after high score. We listened to the brilliant soundtrack featuring many punk and alternative songs I still listen to today. We played that game for hours that day, and I loved every minute of it. I never got any good at the game, though, certainly not as good as Jason. Even to this day, I’ve watched speed runs of THPS, but I’ve still never seen anyone as skilled at the game style as Jason was. That was Jason. He threw himself into whatever he wanted to learn, and he mastered it. He was a phenomenal artist and a great skater. He was a good guy, and he was a great friend. He was a better friend than I probably deserved.

Jason died a few months ago. Some years ago, he was hit by a car while riding his skateboard. He experienced multiple fractures and internal injuries, and he was even in a coma for a little while. He’s lucky to have survived the accident at all, and after multiple surgeries, he was still in a lot of pain. Eventually, he was able to walk, but I don’t believe he could ever skate again. I’m not sure on that last point, though, because by this time, Jason and I had kind of grown apart. There was no animosity or anything, at least not to my knowledge, but our interests had diverged so much that we just kind of drifted away. We were still friends on Facebook, and we still talked on there periodically — mostly about politics — but we certainly weren’t best friends any more.

When I heard he died, my heart broke. I had always intended to reconnect with him at some point. I had wanted to introduce him to my wife. I had started writing more, and I wanted to connect with him on an artistic level. But, none of that would ever happen. I had missed my chance, and I would never have that chance again.

When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 came out, it was bigger and better than its predecessor. The levels were larger, they added movesets. They added characters and unlockables, and the challenges were even more off the wall. I again played this game with Jason, and he was again better at the game than me. By the time I got there — not even days after the game came out — he had already beaten most of the challenges in most of the levels. He had mastered using the manuals to link street tricks together, and his score for a single trick was running higher than his level high scores in many of the THPS1 levels.

That was the last THPS game I played with Jason. I played a few of the later ones in the series, but I was never any good at them. I’m not sure if Jason played them, but I’m sure if he did, they didn’t give him much of an issue. Jason threw himself into whatever he wanted to learn, and he mastered it. He was always so fucking good at what he wanted to do.

I don’t really know where I want to go with this, or even if I want to go anywhere with this. I haven’t processed Jason’s death all that much. Certainly not like I should have. I just played a stupid BMX game which reminded me of a great skateboarding game which reminded me of a good friend, and this is the result.

Backlog Update:

The first of the month has rolled around, and Twitch Prime has given me 4 more games. Unfortunately, they’re four games I don’t have. Also, fortunately, it’s four games I don’t have.

Total Backlog: 240 243

(The Pumped BMX+ image is from the Steam Page. The THPS image is from Wikipedia.)

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