Everyone knows about Evel Knievel, the legendary stunt performer who took America by storm during the ’60s and ’70s. This American daredevil was famous for his incredible motorcycle jumps over various obstacles, such as trucks and buses. We all know that Evel was pretty cool guy, but have you ever wanted to be as cool as him? Well, you can’t, but you can play his appropriately-titled game, Evel Knievel. The best part is that you can pretend to be Evel without setting a record for most broken bones. You might break your device from frustration, though.
Brought to us by Barnstorm Games, Evel Knievel is an Android action game that has you racing in a variety of levels based on the titular stuntman’s career. The gameplay is similar to those motorbike games where you constantly have to adjust the balance and acceleration of your bike or, in this case, you risk letting Mr. Knievel die in the virtual world, too. You definitely don’t want that to happen, so what you’ll do instead is navigate a bunch of obstacle courses with ramps, loops, and flaming hoops. After you get past some of the early levels, the later ones start incorporating multiple paths into the course, which gives you more options to finish them course if you happen to miss a jump or two. Regardless of what obstacles are in the level, in true Evel Knievel fashion, they all end with a big ramp jump.
For me, the coolest part of Evel Knievel is its historical accuracy. Now, before you think I’m insane for praising a biking game’s history, let me explain how the levels work. At the beginning of each level, instead of just having a name for the course, there’s a date. Being curious, I looked up the dates, and they actually correspond to the real-life stunts that Evel Knievel pulled off. Also, do remember the big ramp jumps that I mentioned? Those are also based on the actual stunts. The stages that take place in January of 1966 do indeed finish off with a ramp jump over a couple of pick-up trucks. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s a nice tough that really shows that Evel Knievel isn’t an effortless cash grab. The jump at the end of each level puts you into slow motion while a quote from Evel plays, which is usually “I did everything by the seat of my pants.”
Funnily enough, Evel Knievel cuts off the second part of that quote, which is “That’s why I got hurt so much.” That is a much more relevant quote for this game. The levels ramp up (ha!) in difficulty fairly quickly. If I remember correctly, the third level is double the size of the first one and with twice as many obstacles. As a result, you will be crashing quite a lot. The crashes are almost horrifying, or as much as they can be within the game’s bright aesthetic. The reason they’re so terrible is because the Evel Knievel‘s sound quality is pretty good. Honestly, I’ve cringed at the sounds my crashes made, and watching Evel’s body contort and crunch made each failure all the more disheartening. It got pretty frustrating after a while, but the game is still fun, for the most part.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many Android games, the controls pose a problem. However, it’s not for the usual reason of the touchscreen hindering the gameplay. Far from it, actually. The touchscreen controls are responsive and suit this game perfectly. The issue is that, in midair, the controls are reversed. In the vast majority of these bike-balancing games, the right button makes your bike go to the right on the ground and clockwise in the air. In Evel Knievel, the right button makes your bike go counterclockwise. This has messed up more of my jumps than I can count. You eventually start to get used to it a bit, but the option to change the controls would have greatly improved the game.
As it stands, the lack of control customization is a fairly annoying flaw, but it’s really the only thing wrong with this action-packed racer. Evel Knievel is a very solid Android action game that lets you strive to be Evel. It even adds the usual mobile game features like coins and missions, which can unlock new bikes and helmet. It doesn’t change the gameplay in a huge way, but it adds some extra incentive to replay some levels. It’s not groundbreaking, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do and honors Evel Knievel in the process.
Is it Hardcore?
The controls make the game unnecessarily frustrating, but it’s a pretty decent Evel Knievel simulator otherwise.