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BMX Airmaster - The Atari Times

BMX Airmaster

Before there was Matt Hoffman's Pro BMX, there was...
by Dale "Deiru" Culp

September 29, 2003
Produced by TNT Games, developed by Sculptured Software, and written by Adam Clayton, this extremely rare game saw release on the 2600 in 1989.

The basic premise is simple; compete in three different events, racking up as many points as possible by doing as many stunts as possible. And yet, the depth of this game gets quite complicated as you could literally play it for hours on end, always trying to improve, always trying to outdo yourself but especially, trying to outdo your friends.

The first event is every mother's worst nightmare - the half pipe. Fan of the X-Games will recognize this setting right away. You right up and down the inner sides of this thing trying to build up enough speed to launch your frail body into the air...and if that just isn't dangerous enough for you, you can also flip, twist, wheel spin, etc. The more tricks you do, the more points you get, the more your friends will have good reason to destroy you. After a set time, your run is over and, assuming you survived without losing your 4 lives, you move on to the next location.

The second event is a runway with a quarter pipe at the end. Basically, you ride as fast as possible and launch yourself into the air...again, doing stunts. This time, you get three chances to either do something really cool or just pack up and go home like a whiny loser.

The last event, and I use the term "last" loosely, is a pier. On this pier, or dock, or whatever, are two small ramps separated by a gap. You ride as fast as possible, launch off the first ramp, do some "sick tricks," and hopefully, land safely on the other ramp, riding it to the ground and then partying like the BMX GOD you wish you were before doing it two more times. Bones intact, your score is totaled and you move on to...the half pipe again. This continues until you've used up all your lives, which is why I used the term "last" loosely. You're not done till you're dead. Forget Skate or Die, this game gives a whole new meaning to "XTREME"!

There are 4 modes, Arcade Standard, Arcade Advanced, Practice Standard, and Practice Advanced. The Advanced modes a little less forgiving when it comes doing stunts. The same rules apply all around, but it's somehow easier to wipe out and the scores are higher. The real difference is between the Arcade and Practice modes. Arcade makes you run the gauntlet of all three locations while Practice allows you to do as many runs as you like in each location. You get four lives and the Half pipe level has the same set time, but when you've finished, you can either move on to whichever event you want to try next, or try the same one again. Practice mode is great for honing your skills, but it also makes challenging friends easier since you might just want to see who's better at one particular event without having to go through the whole game. There's a two-play mode where you and a friend take turns after each event, bail, or attempt, but I found it unnecessary to use it. We just wait until each player is done and write down the score...it let's them "stay in the zone" instead of worrying about who's next.


The graphics are, at their worst, utilitarian, while, at their best, somewhat pleasing to look at. In other words, you can tell you're a kid on a bike, you can tell that's a half pipe, etc. They do exactly what they need to do without any kind of sparkle or shine. Really, anything more would just be a distraction. Some nice effects are thrown in here and there but again, it gets the job done. I give 'em 80%. Not the best, but certainly not the worst.

Music & Sound

There is some music. The first bit of music is the theme song at the title screen. It's kind of catchy, actually. Other music comes as a sort of "staging" music, between events, letting you know that the event is either over or waiting for you to begin. Again, not bad, but not really something you want to have to hear for long.

The sound effects are rather pedestrian...again, doing what they "gotta do." When you pedal and spin you get this scratching noise. Landing tricks gets you various bell and whistle type sounds, while a ringing noise accompanies the score tallying up. Pretty much what you'd expect.


Controls are pretty well thought out. Hitting the button starts you moving while wiggling the joystick to the left and right in rapid succession causes you to accelerate. Once in the air, the four main directions (up, down, left, and right...as though I need to tell you) cause you to flip and rotate on various axis. Holding down the button while moving the joystick causes you do other kinds of tricks, like a wheel spin, putting your arms in the air (and possibly waving them like you just don't care), putting down the kick stand, and leaning forward. All these tricks and flips add up for some serious points and that, my friends, is the whole point of the game, now isn't it? 100% -The limited "1 button" controls were brilliantly used. It limits the amount of overall tricks you can perform but needs no explanation. You could easily figure this game out without ever reading a manual.


Playability is a HUGE factor here. You'll find yourself playing this again, and again, always trying to improve your score, always trying to fly higher, faster, do more tricks, more combos. You'll find yourself trying to squeeze in "just one more game," hoping each time that "THIS time" will be "THE time..." the time you get the ultimate score and a chance to rub it in everyone else's faces. Whether it's self-improvement or a raucous good time, there's a lot of reasons to love playing this game. I've played this game a lot over the years and it's nice to see a game that still poses a challenge.


I love this game. But, I'm giving it a 99% because, as great as it is, I wish there was more. That's the game's only flaw. It holds a lot for such a small package, but it leaves me desperately wanting more.

Yes! There is a title screen!
This game has some of the nicest graphics ever seen on the 2600.
Flyin' high!
Riding down the dock.
BMX Airmaster
System: 2600
Publisher: TNT Games
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 100%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 99%

Reader Comments for BMX Airmaster

Very cool game! by Gregory D. George on 2014-03-20 23:25:57
This game is amazing for the 2600! If there were more colors on the character you'd mistake this for a NES game! It's lot of fun (even though it gets repetitive after awhile.)
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