Application Review: Touchgrind BMX

Just three years ago, after Illusion Labs formed, they decided to venture into the iPhone gaming industry. Back then, it was really easy to create an instant classic, especially if the game was made with quality in mind. Touchgrind came to life on November 26, 2008 and became a huge hit. Illusion continued on the success of this game with other lesser-known games like: Foosball, Labyrinth 2, and Sway.

Nothing was really known about the evolution of Touchgrind. Two-and-a-half years after Illusion released the original Touchgrind, they decided to release the next generation of the game; this time, going about the biking route with Touchgrind BMX. The game offers great gameplay, gorgeous graphics, ample audio, rich replay value, and a big bang for your buck.

Gameplay and Controls

Touchgrind BMX offers a rich and revamped gameplay that offers much more than the original version. The game as a whole feels more like a minigame, or an arcade game, than a full-fledged game that the major developers like EA and Gameloft make. This arcade game scheme works very well for mobiles. There really isn’t any story to this game; there is no need for one. The game itself is just biking, BMX biking to be exact. You go through various courses biking and doing crazy tricks that one wouldn’t even imagine doing in everyday life. These include:

  • Backflips (two types)
  • Frontflips (two types)
  • Barspins
  • Tailwhips
  • Rotational spins
  • Crooked tricks
  • Combos of the above

Ironically, you can’t actually grind in the game. It kind of feels like they left something out, especially knowing the name of the game is Touchgrind. As you progress through each course, you can perform tricks at each ramp. The harder the tricks, and the bigger the combo, the more points you get. If you score 10,000 points in one trick, your multiplier goes up. If you bail, you lose your multiplier. Touchgrind BMX is exciting, fun, and adrenaline pumping. The gameplay is really well thought out by Illusion, which is something that I’ve grown accustomed to.

You can perform some crazy tricks that would send chills down a pro’s spine.

Now, it wouldn’t be fun if you just rode around and did tricks for the fun of it… Actually it kind of would. However, Illusion still believes that this is a game, and games have unlockables. Throughout the game, you work your way earning adrenaline points by getting high scores and doing challenges. These adrenaline points unlock bikes, paint jobs, and new levels.


Challenges earn you a number of adrenaline points; you are awarded a medal for getting a high score. Each medal gets you 35 adrenaline points.

The controls are similar to the original Touchgrind controls. They are designed specifically for the touchscreen, and would work well anywhere else. You simply tap, swipe and hold, or just swipe your fingers to do everything. The control scheme does take some getting used to, but after a while, it just seems natural. All the tricks can be done with simple swipes.

The controls in this game are just swipes and taps. There are tutorials to teach you how to master every flip and spin.

Illusion Labs did it once again. Their Touchgrind name lives on in the form of BMX, and it’s just as fun as its predecessor. Although you can’t grind, you can flip, whip, and spin yourself out of your mind doing everything your mother would be opposed to since it could cause you to… Well, die. The game is fun to play with exquisite controls that are natural from the touch to the swipe.

Gameplay and Controls: ★★★★★

Graphics and Presentation

Illusion Labs was able to continue to offer the great gameplay they offered in the iPhone OS (remember when it was called this?) 2.0 days. Well, in the days of iOS 4, we have the Unreal Engine, and even then, we have games that still look stellar without it. Touchgrind BMX is one of those games that can still hold its own against the Unreal Engine.

The graphics are nice and colorful with great detail, and the framerates are high on my iPod Touch 4G. The textures that they use are really high quality and look amazing. They aren’t perfect, but are really close it. The edges on the graphics could use some smoothing and the bike itself should have a shadow; Illusion gave buildings and everything else shadows, the bike is the only thing that doesn’t get one.

The in-game graphics look superb and are retina ready.

The menus in the game are brilliantly designed. The main menu is a globe, you simply scroll though the globe to go to and select the level you want to play; quick and simple. The other menus are creatively designed with a grungy, skater feel to them. Carrying on with Touchgrind, the BMX version continues with its great, refined menus that are simple, colorful, and a joy to navigate.

The menu is uniquely designed to offer quick and easy access to the main game.

Illusion Labs has put up some great graphics for iOS, and it shows. Except for a few minor things, the graphics in this game are beautiful. The menus are cleverly designed with a unique style to them.

Graphics and Presentation: ★★½


There is an abundant amount of audio in the game, which is always a nice thing, but this game is still missing a thing or two in the audio department.

When you first load up the game, you notice the skater-style, booming music that has a beat to it. I liked it, and was looking forward to hearing the rest of the background music (BGM) that the game would incorporate. I was bewildered to find that the game had no other BGM; not even for the actual game. That being said, you aren’t given any music while you actually ride, which can kill the game. Play your iPod before entering this game and play some banging beats of your own.

The sound effects are really nice in the game. They are amusing, and add to the arcade, laid-back feel of Touchgrind. You can hear the bell on your bike (if it has one), every bail you make, and every mistake you make, and even the tires screeching as you land sideways. The sound effects are a really nice as it adds some amusement to the game.

Even with the lacking BGM, the game still gives users’ superb audio that is abundant and full. However, the lack of background music while you are playing can kill the overall excitement of the game as a BGM would really add much to the game.

Audio: ★★★★

Replay Value

This game is surprisingly addictive and the unlockables really make you want to keep playing, no matter how aggravating it gets. The game starts out really easy, then turns up the difficulty making it a great challenge for even the most serious gamer. It’s really fun, and the in-game challenges can keep you busy for a while, especially knowing that you unlock stuff as you complete them. The game has plenty of replay value, but could use some online leaderboards or head-to-head multiplayer to really push a player to their limits. It does get repetitive after a while, but it’s still fun.

The game offers you plenty of things to unlock as you go about your business in the game, keeping you playing and striving to get it all.

Replay Value: ★★★★

Value for the Money

Five dollars is a steep price when it comes to iOS apps, especially considering that the price of apps has deflated since 2.0. The original Touchgrind currently goes for 5 dollars in the App Store as well, so I don’t see the price of this game going down. The gameplay is superb and addictive, it’ll keep you busy for hours; I know it’s taken a huge part of my life already. The graphics are made with speed and stability in mind. For five dollars, you get lots for your money.

Value for the Money: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

Illusion Labs really put forth a big effort to bring back the Touchgrind name to the App Store years after its original first jump into the App Store. They did a great job on the game. The game is a joy to play and will surely kill hours of your time. Now, just don’t try this stuff at home… or at least wear a helmet when you do it.

Final Scores

  • Gameplay and Controls: ★★★★★
  • Graphics and Presentation: ★★★★½
  • Audio: ★★★★
  • Replay Value: ★★★★
  • Value for the Money: ★★★★★

Overall Score

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.

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