You might have to go back a few years to prove it, but there was a time when the equation "Dave Mirra + video games = sweet" was true. A couple of excellent-playing Game Boy Advance Dave Mirra titles were the best of the bunch, but the Xbox and PlayStation 2 have both seen decent games starring the famed BMX biker. Unfortunately, Dave Mirra BMX Challenge for the PlayStation Portable is another in a line of more recent Mirra-themed games that simply aren't worth your time or money.
BMX Challenge features a couple of single-player modes, including exhibition, quickplay, and a career mode that is laughably short. Career mode is split between two series: race events and trick events. The race events are incredibly simple, and even after finishing the novice mode and graduating to the pro difficulty level, only the most uncoordinated player will come in at anything less than second place. With some dedication, you can finish both difficulty levels in around two hours, and then it's time to move on to the trick series.
To be fair, there is more challenge to be found in the career mode's trick events, if only because the tricks themselves are varied and the point totals you'll need to pass the later levels are demanding. Using various combinations of the directional pad and the PSP's circle and/or square buttons, you can pull off tricks such as tailwhips, turndowns, and flips, among many others. If you are close to a rail, you can press the square button to jump and the triangle button to grind on the rail, while you pay attention to an ever-wobbling balance meter. In fact, grinding is the easiest way to rack up trick points; one of the easiest exploits in the game is to quickly press the jump and grind buttons in succession to build up your trick-point multipliers and then grind for as long as you can. Because your balance meter resets each time you restart the grind, you can pass several trick levels in the game simply by grinding on rails. Trick multipliers don't stack up when you pull successive tricks on each end of a half-pipe, which is an odd design choice, so your best bet is to seek out the longest rail and get to grinding.
None of these events are helped by BMX Challenge's atrocious physics. For example, in race events you can flip your opponents around 180 degrees simply by touching them. Collision detection is not consistent, as you can drive through certain objects (such as bushes and trees) untouched, but ramming into other objects (such as cafÃ© tables) topples you off your bike and costs you precious seconds in the timed trick events. While the basic movements of the bikes and riders are decent, the fact that you can grind around 90-degree corners or sharp hairpin turns at full speed--or warp directly onto a rail even if you aren't really on top of it--looks and feels ridiculous.