In the year 2022, there is pretty much a simulator for everything on consoles. Farming Simulator, Tourist Bus Simulator and Road Maintenance Simulator are mixed in with the likes of Goat Simulator, DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game and now Pro Gymnast Simulator. The latter definitely falls into the category of ‘Includes the word Simulator in the title but is as far from a simulation game as you can imagine’. Sure, it’s a niche category, but it should also tell you everything you need to know about Pro Gymnast Simulator straight away.
About as far away from the gymnasium as you can possibly be, Pro Gymnast Simulator has likely never even laid eyes on a pommel horse or a balance beam. It has more in common with the Trials games, mixed with the difficult controller scheme of Surgeon Simulator. And with those awkward controls comes a game that is equal parts frustrating and laughably bad.
The left stick controls your arms, and the right stick controls your legs. Unlike Surgeon Simulator, this hasn’t been designed to be purposefully confusing, but it is a controller scheme that is very difficult to master.
You do at least play as a gymnast. Of sorts. Pro Gymnast Simulator is a ‘physics’ game where your speed and momentum matters. And how that gymnast looks is down to you, thanks to a – credit where credit is due – robust character creation. There is an unnecessarily large number of sliders from everything such as head size to gluteus width and leg separation.
All of this counts for precisely nought because for the rest of the game you will only see your character from the side on. So, unless you are making them gluts as large as possible, you’re really not going to notice.
Pro Gymnast Simulator is played from a 2.5D perspective where you are side on to view what obstacles are next. Much like the Trials series, you must successfully navigate from one side to the other. There is a decent tutorial to explain the mechanics and intricacies, but it essentially plays a bit like The Floor is Lava, with only a crash mat or a rope indicating a safe place to dismount. It is easy to spot the finishing obstacle thanks to a giant on-screen arrow. Actually, getting to it is another thing entirely.
There are two locations with which to do your ‘gymnastics’: California and Tokyo. Tokyo attempts to recreate their bay area but presents it all at nighttime so you can’t really notice it anyways. California takes in the sights and sounds of the various beaches on the West coast of America. The sounds used for the lapping waves give off a false sense of security as they appear to calm you down, but this game is anything but a relaxing experience.
Things start off easy enough with only one or two obstacles to navigate around. It won’t be long before you will be tasked with spinning through timed gates or trying to swing over huge walls. And you will reach a point where you will begin to question your sanity as the difficulty increases to quite frankly, ridiculous levels. There are the occasional fun levels, but these are mixed in with too many frustrating ones.
Hopefully, your sanity check rolls in during the first level, so you don’t have to subject yourself to this.
The physics are janky at best. Case in point: I ended up with 469000 points – roughly 447000 points more than second place – on the Trampoline Arena Challenge level, largely by rolling around on the trampoline as I had lost all momentum straight away.
If the tutorials are still giving you trouble, there is a practice area where you can perfect your skills at a variety of different spots. These can only get you so far though; no amount of practice can prepare you for some of the later levels. There is one literally called Mat Coaster, where you need to ride around on a crash mat to make it to the end of the course. This is actually one of the more fun levels, but also one you can’t really practice for.
If you are really enjoying the ugly side that Pro Gymnast Simulator brings out of people, then how about you create your own levels? There is a level creator within, and it is quite simple to use. You can choose from any of the obstacles in the game straight from the off, nothing needs to be unlocked, and create your hellish nightmares. The only problem here is that there is no option to share with the rest of the world, they can only be stored locally.
For all the above criticisms, there is a way to enjoy Pro Gymnast Simulator. Grab a few friends, copious amounts of alcohol and laugh the night away with it. It can be good fun with others, as you pass the controller, but there’s a chance playing single player will just leave you in a mess on the floor, uttering expletives you didn’t know you had in your vocabulary.
Pro Gymnast Simulator is very much like if the Trials games and Goat Simulator had a love child. The physics will let you down at some point, but I’m half tempted to suggest it has been purposefully designed this way. There is nothing pro, gymnastic, or simulator about Pro Gymnast Simulator. But, some gamers will live for this kind of stuff.
Don the lycra in Pro Gymnast Simulator on Xbox One
- Robust character creation
- Some fun to be had with friends in certain levels
- User created levels cannot be shared
- Very difficult controls
- Not very good physics
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - RedDeerGames
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 10 June 2022
- Launch price from - £16.74