There was a moment in Bomb Rush Cyberfunk that made me feel like I was a bonafide skateboarding pro. After earning enough rep on the streets by spray painting tags, I was finally facing up against one of the rival crews known as 'The Franks' in the setting of New Amsterdam. Naturally, since nobody knew who I was, I had to prove to them I could tear things up on my board by beating them in a crew battle challenge. The task at hand had me perform tricks to try and earn a higher score than my opponent within a two-minute time frame. I had only just started to get the hang of using my skateboard after completing some smaller head-to-head challenges, and this felt like a tall order for someone fresh on the streets. But as it turned out, I proved them, and myself, wrong.
Once I started grinding on some railings, I used my boostpack to jettison across it and lean into tight corners in order to earn myself some hearty multiplier bonuses. As I went, I furiously mashed the X, Y, and B buttons on my Xbox controller to perform a flurry of slick tricks. While I found myself transfixed by the sight of my skater Red doing frontside grinds and smoothly spinning as I went along the railing, I briefly looked up to see my score skyrocketing. Heck yeah. When my time was up, my score was far higher than that of the Franks' and I felt like I'd really done my crew proud. Challenge completed.
So much of Bomb Rush Cyberfunk takes me back to a time when I used to watch my sister play Jet Set Radio Future on the original Xbox console, and that's no surprise. This may not be an official sequel to Sega's rollerblading adventures released in the early '00s, but developer Team Reptile's spiritual successor feels as close as you could get to it. With its distinct style and incredibly funky music, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is a very fun homage that moves to its own kind of beat.
Head in the game
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk begins with a prison break in a police station, which tutorializes all of the basic skills and features. You start off with a pair of inline skates that pop right out of your oversized shoes, which quickly becomes my favorite means of getting around, but you'll also get the chance to use a skateboard and BMX bike to perform tricks later on. Since you take on the role of a graffiti writer, you're also quickly shown the ropes of tagging, with noticeable outlines on walls to mark areas you can spray paint with different designs. Just as I'm about to break out of the prison with the help of my newfound companion Tryce, the militarized police catch up to us. Suddenly I'm in a battle against a flying, jetpack-using cop, which puts all of the skills I've just learned to the test.
After the showdown with the airborne copper, the story truly begins... And you better believe it escalates quickly. I literally lose my head and awake with a cyber-style replacement. Before long, I've joined the Bomb Rush Cyberfunk crew, and I'm on a mission to hunt down a fellow by the name DJ Cyber to get my head back. With the goal of raising my rep to catch the attention of rival crews, I set about spray painting around the boroughs of New Amsterdam and take on a series of challenges against the rival crews. Without wanting to spoil too much, the story is wonderfully weird, with a cast of colorful characters and memorable crews to encounter. As things progress, you can even switch up what character you're playing, which keeps things feeling fresh.
The police will pop up throughout the story, and sometimes bother you on the streets thanks to a heat system that's not a million miles away from the star system in the likes of GTA. As you spray paint around to earn more rep, you'll draw the police's attention and they'll come running after you. To fight back, you essentially use the trick buttons to pummel your foes and you can even spray paint and tag them. While its spin on combat feels a little clunky, it makes sense that it incorporates all of the skills you use to skate around.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is ultimately at its best, though, when you're getting lost in exploration. The vibrant streets of New Amsterdam serve up ample opportunities to do slick tricks and grinds across railings, walls, and even rooftops. And there's a puzzle-like element to working out how to reach areas higher up, too. On several occasions, I've had to experiment around to work out how to get to a taggable spot.
Jet Set Radio fans won't want to miss Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, but even if you're not familiar with the former, it's well worth checking out. It really feels like a playground for you to mess around in, and doing tricks and stunts is just downright fun - especially when you're accompanied by a funky soundtrack that adds to the vibe.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is out now on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and Switch. See what exciting releases are ahead with our roundup of upcoming indie games.