Relive his spectacular career, starting with a humble 250cc Scrambler jumping Rattlesnakes and Lions, working your way up to insane jumps like 13 London Buses and the Las Vegas Casino Fountain on the 750cc Ultimate.
Have fun doing wheelies, flips, loops and many other stunts. Negotiate flaming hoops, springboards, cranes and many other exciting obstacles.
Evel Knievel is undoubtedly one of the more ridiculous pieces of American pop culture. I don’t mean ridiculous in a bad way; just that it seems equal parts silly and awesome that someone could make a career out of jumping a motorcycle over increasingly large numbers of crazy things like buses and sharks. That weirdly fascinating balance of absurdity and danger are on full display in Barnstorm Games’ Evel Knievel , to the point where I’m not sure how seriously I should be taking any of it.
I mean, on the one hand, it’s a fairly straight-forward Trials-like motorcycle game where you need to control your acceleration and speed over various jumps and hazards. It was apparently made in partnership with the late daredevil’s son, Kelly Knievel, and each level seems to be loosely based on a specific jump he did in real life. It has all the makings of a bad ass stunt game paying tribute to a beloved icon from the 70s. On the other hand, the entire game is done with a pretty cartoon-y “event flyer” look, and the ragdoll physics on Evel are kind of hilarious sometimes when you crash. Plus, right before you hit the massive jump that closes out each level, you can hear Evel’s voice booming down from the heavens with real quotes like “I did everything by the seat of my pants!”
Basically, the whole thing is an awkward cross between real-life tribute and goofy little bike game. That’s kinda why I love it, though. Sure, I cringe when “I love the feeling of fresh air on my face!” echos around the arena as I fly over a box of snakes. And I also cringe (for a different reason) when I undershoot a jump and my face hits the bottom of a platform, sending my body flying through the air and landing on some flaming barrels in a crumped mess. But it’s all done in such a fun, un-ironic way that I couldn’t help but get swept up in the silliness with a stupid grin on my face.
Of course, it helps that the game itself is incredibly solid. I’ve played a lot of these motorcycle games over the years (the App Store has basically been drowning in them since day one) and they usually range from super wonky to nightmarishly challenging. Evel Knievel manages to find a near-perfect balance between those extremes with gameplay that’s a tad slower (with shorter levels) than others, while still providing a hefty challenge in the later stages.
The game is controlled by simply tapping on the right to accelerate and the left to brake (and reverse). Once you’re in the air, the right side of the screen lifts your front wheel and the left lifts your back, allowing you to line up your landings properly and pull of largely unnecessary (but still cool) flips and wheelies. The controls are as reliable as you’d hope, and the overall feel of riding the bikes is just fantastic. In fact, I almost prefer the earlier levels that are significantly less challenging simply because riding over the more basic bumps and ramps is surprisingly satisfying compared to the complicated hazards you’ll be tearing your hair out over later in the game.
That’s really the only complaint I can come up with for the game, actually. It can be downright brutal when you’re trying to get silver and gold medals on certain stages, which is pretty much required in order to afford newer bikes and progress further in the game. Acquiring those medals often takes a fair bit of guesswork as well, since you never really know what motorcycle is best for any particular situation as they don’t list any stats anywhere. Usually I’ll end up using my latest (and presumably “best”) bike, but it’s almost impossible to gauge how fast you should be taking the final jump when you revisit earlier levels since it’s mostly off-screen when you finally pull up to the ramp.
I can’t think of very many real life individuals who would make great video game characters, but Evel Knievel is surely one of them. Evel Knievel is a fun, worthy tribute to the legendary daredevil, even despite one or two weird choices (that ghostly drawl will surely haunt my dreams). It can be pretty frustrating when the medal times suddenly get really tight, and your expensive bike keeps overshooting everything and crashing on contact with the ground. Even still, with great controls, strong physics, and dozens of increasingly crazy levels, it’s easily one of the most satisfying side-on bike racers currently on the App Store.
Game: Evel Knievel | 1.99$ | Universal app | Download