Bumpy Road: An Arcade Game With a Love Story

The best arcade games aren’t just challenging or visually stimulating — they tell a story. Bumpy Road is an arcade game that harnesses the arcade game trifecta: It’s challenging; it’s (very) visually appealing; and it has a story element with charming characters.

In the game, you guide an older couple (the game creators describe the pair as “a couple in their autumn years”) as they take a drive, and it’s your job to safely maneuver them through each course, helping them to collect memoriesto tell the story of their past. Ready to turn back time? Click “more” to put the pedal to the metal.

Getting on the Road

In Bumpy Road, the road is, well, bumpy. You swipe your finger across the road behind the vehicle in order to raise the road so that it becomes a slope, rather than flat ground. The slant then moves the car forward. Wash, rinse, repeat. Tap the road below the car to make it jump. And, as with most arcade games, if you’re going to have to make a long jump, you have to try to build up some speed first.

Bumpy Road begins with a tutorial to show you how to move the car and make it jump.

Bumpy Road begins with a tutorial to show you how to move the car and make it jump.

As you drive along, you’ll probably notice the incredible cityscape graphics in the background. Each scene is like a beautiful painting of a European city, with elegant towers, windmills and cottages. I can’t say this often about a game, but in my opinion, the background imagery in Bumpy Road is one of the best parts, so take a look around every few seconds as you play.

The Gizmos

As the couple’s automobile continues along, you’ll notice a good assortment of doodads, officially coined “gizmos.” The gizmos can look like levers or buttons, etc., and each one has a different effect on the automobile or the surroundings. Along the course, you’ll also see warning signs, which are triangle-shaped and feature an exclamation mark. These signs mean a hole is coming up, which you’ll want to avoid, since they bring the ride to a swift end.

Every gizmo you collect on your drive has an effect on the automobile or on the surroundings.

Every gizmo you collect on your drive has an effect on the automobile or on the surroundings.

In your screen’s top right corner, you’ll see the Pause icon. In your screen’s top left, you’ll see what Bumpy Road calls the Gizmo Meter. As you travel, it will automatically decrease, and if it hits zero, guess what: game over. Of course, you can fuel the Gizmo Meter by collecting more and more gizmos!

And you do want to collect as many gizmos as possible, since if you max the meter you get a special reward. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s say if you did max the meter, the reward might be a danger-free bonus ride. And if it were a danger-free bonus ride, I would say you probably want to collect as many gizmos as possible in the bonus ride to make it last even longer. All conjecture, though.

The Scoreboard

Any and all points you acquire during a ride are totaled at the end, and if you did well, your score will be displayed on the scoreboard. Speaking of the scoreboard, you can head there by tapping the crown icon in the top righthand corner from the home screen.

The Scoreboard displays the top five scores plus game statistics.

The Scoreboard displays the top five scores plus game statistics.

There you can scroll forward or backward to view game stats in addition to the top five high scores for the Evergreen Rides and Sunday Trips, as well as the Journal, which keeps track of amusing statistics such as the number of joyful leaps, gizmos found, butterflies seen, fireflies admired, croissants eaten and distance traveled.

Your Options

You have two course options available from the main menu: Evergreen Ride or Sunday Trip. Within Evergreen Ride, you can select “Spring” or “Autumn,” which changes the background and course aesthetics to fit the season. The goal in Evergreen Ride is to drive as far as you can.

Sunday Trip is a danger-free drive; however, in Evergreen Ride you'll want to avoid falling into holes!

Sunday Trip is a danger-free drive; however, in Evergreen Ride you'll want to avoid falling into holes!

In Sunday Trip, you can choose Classic, Sprint or Marathon, and there are no holes to watch out for or fall into; the objective is simply to reach the finish line as quickly as possible. You will see gizmos with plus signs, and others with minus signs. You want to gather as many of the first kind as you can as they give you speed boosts; the latter are brake gizmos and will slow you down. Also, collect the clock gizmos for another surprise at the end.

In the Evergreen Ride, you can select Spring or Autumn, which changes the course's aesthetics.

In the Evergreen Ride, you can select Spring or Autumn, which changes the course's aesthetics.

The third main menu option is called Memory Lane, and there you can view all the pictures you have collected in the Evergreen Rides. The images are depicted as being shown on a projector screen, adding to the vintage look of the animation. Collecting all the Memory Lane pictures may not be a priority for some, but sentimental types might appreciate this aspect of the game, which tells the story of “L’Harmonica.”

Final Thoughts

Bumpy Road may not be for hardcore arcade game enthusiasts, but I don’t think that’s its targeted gamer-ship. Bumpy Road is a charming little adventure for those who appreciate games that present a challenge, but not too much of a challenge, and incorporate a sentimental element. Not to mention, the artwork in the game is truly beautiful.

In an update, I’d like to see the addition of of a few more courses — continuing the autumn and spring options with summer and winter would make sense. Also, the story of L’Harmonica being told through the collection of pictures is a unique concept. I think adding more stories could be a neat idea and would continue to make gameplay interesting.


Summary

Safely guide a couple in their autumn years as they take a drive, collecting memories to tell the story of their past.

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