Pro Gymnast Review

Powder your palms, it's time for the Pro Gymnast in you to get out there and do some sexy flips. Or faceplant.

With the Olympics postponed just like everything else, if you’re a bit of a swinger – the safe kind, Pro Gymnast might be the next best thing without the cost of a gym membership that you’ll never use. Let’s swing into action. Ahem.

I LOVE a character customisation screen, but the one here felt a little redundant. You can choose from several presets then fine-tune with a wealth of customisations, but they don’t seem to make much difference or have no real function.

Coming to the face adjustments, the character continually moves his head about so any changes have to be quick for you to notice any changes. Also, objects were protruding out of my character’s cheek, and he had such dead eyes that I decided to get on with it. I felt a little deflated.

Pro Gymnast Review

When it came to the gameplay, however, Pro Gymnast was great. The physics are pretty damn good and rag dolling your gymnast about is massively satisfying. One massive elephant in the room is how to deal with landing. If you hit the deck, it’s not game over and instead, the counter continues, and you wiggle your body on the floor like a fish out water. I can’t show you in a static image, but I was able to do the worm on many occasion.

But landing is the least of your worries as the controls do take some getting used to. It’s not that they’re bad; on the contrary, Walaber Entertainment has come up with a unique control system. Unfortunately, on my part, I felt that I need to have the dexterity of a watchmaker to perform them.

Pro Gymnast - Character
Moi. Ish.. Source: Screen capture

First of all, you can swing the left or right stick to move your shoulders or legs respectively. Gain enough momentum, and you’ll be on the path of launching your character into orbit and performing some spectacular moves – if only you can get to the buttons in time.

Swinging 101

There’s a lengthy tutorial which teaches you the fundamentals. It’s one of those rare tutorials where all of it is useful, and you shouldn’t skip any of it. It’ll start with some seemingly mundane tasks like dropping to the floor in time, but then that evolves into slowing down time and jumping on mattress-like slides to launch onto another obstacle.

Without any dialogue or story, naturally, the game feels very witty and in many ways, charming. Juxtaposed with the, sorry – awful character creation, the graphics in Pro Gymnast are excellent – the animations even better. While I do love me a character creation tool, the gameplay is fundamental, and here, Pro Gymnast doesn’t disappoint.

Pro Gymnast - Plank
Plank. Source: Screen capture

It’s a linear process as you work your way through many events. It’s not the competitive side you would see in something like the Olympics. Still, you will be given tasks like a bit of a setpiece challenge of flipping your character to the other side of the screen, perhaps collecting the bonus piece of chalk too to get all the medals and collectables in the level. They’re optional, of course.

The Technique

One of the reasons why I like the game so much is that it’s so infuriating and you can’t seem to get your character in motion, yet you keep playing again and again. Making mistakes is fun; completing the task even better. It’s a win-win. 

On one very early challenge, I had to manoeuvre my gymnast through a series of poles (I don’t know the terminology). To do so, I had to swing in full 360º spins and with enough speed to launch in the air than land, then catch the next bar. However, either I couldn’t get enough speed or would launch and grab the bar mid-jump, meaning my progress was taking me 10-15 minutes for one level.

Pro Gymnast - Belly flop
Going for a belly flop. Source: Screen capture

The developer, Walaber Entertainment, has an in-game video that gives you a tip on how to mimic the motion of an ice skater. The science, explanation and application are spot-on, then when it comes to doing it, I’d cock up again. With that said, I never felt like quitting, and it just prompted me to try harder.

With more than enough challenges to keep you going, and perfecting and unlocking the gold medals – be it completing a stage on time or with the highest score, Pro Gymnast is surprisingly fun. You need to stick with the controls, but in all honesty, taking turns with a friend or capturing and exporting some of your antics make this a delightful game.