In the late eighties, BMX Airmaster was released by TNT Games and developed by Sculptured Software . That is the version of the game I own. The game would also get a release by Atari after they acquired the rights to the game. Those versions of the game are exceptionally rare.
Firing up the game you will notice two things. The game has wonderful graphics and really nice music. The audio and graphical work on this game is top notch for the Atari 2600. Some of the graphics in the Ramp Jump portion of the game are some of my favorite for the system.
In the game, you take the role of a BMX Superstar, competing in 3 events. The Half Pipe, The Quarter Pipe and the Ramp Jump. Your goal, successfully navigate these various events and do as many fancy tricks as possible while doing so. Although you need to be careful with your timing. You only score points when you stick the landing. So timing is essential.
To start the game, you pedal the bike by moving your joystick left and right to build up speed. You won’t get off the ramp unless you are going fast enough. When you are in the air, you want to perform as many tricks as possible and then safely bring your bike down.
Each event has different timing and points. The Half Pipe can go for 90 seconds and you can really get some air. Move fast enough and you will get up into the clouds.
The Quarter Pipe is similar, but you only have 3 attempts as opposed to 90 seconds. This is my least favorite event. It feels like a slowed down version of the Half Pipe.
The Ramp Jump should be the most boring of the three events. Gameplay-wise it is. You fly through the air and try to land on the a other ramp safely while pulling tricks along the way. For some reason, maybe it is the amazing background art, or maybe jumping off ramps is just awesome, but I find this part just as fun as the Half Pipe.
When you complete the first 3 events, you will go onto the next round. At this point, the difficulty increases. So you will need to landing your bike becomes more of a challenge and you will be forced to pedal harder to get some height to do tricks.
Released in 1989, BMX Airmaster for the Atari 2600 is a great looking game with advanced gameplay. Unfortunately, the release in 1989 is deep into next generation console territory. So by the standards of the day, this game looks a bit primitive. Still it is a great game and worth tracking down for your collection.