Trials HD

I used to feel a little bad for Trials HD. When the line-up for Summer of Arcade was initially announced everyone seemed excited for everything except this game. I heard a lot of comments that it didn’t belong in there, that it was far too expensive, and that there simply was no interest. It’s amazing how fast the turn-around on this happened. Now that the game has been released, the buzz has completely turned and many are saying it’s the best release in Summer of Arcade so far, and I’m almost inclined to agree.

This game popped on my radar pretty quickly. I understood the basic concept but that was about it. When I saw the first trailer, my interest sky rocketed. I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a full purchase but was looking forward to trying it. About five minutes into playing the trial, I was sold and grabbed the full version immediately and have not regretted the decision one bit.

The concept behind the game is quite simple. You drive a motorcycle across a 2D obstacle course. That’s the goal, driving from point A to point B. However the journey there is one tough son of a bitch.

The whole game is based around the physics of driving the bike. The only controls are accelerate, brake, and using the left stick to maneuver the bike. It sounds simple, and it is in theory, but once you actually put those controls into action, it’s anything but. The controls work and feel great, and thank god for that because this game would be unplayable if the controls weren’t absolutely perfect.

The courses start out easy enough, with hardly anything to contend with other than maybe some slight inclines in the track. As you progress through the various difficulties you’ll be dealing with 90 degree drops, rings of fire, exploding barrels, steel cage balls, often all within the same track. Every track is completely unique from the others and not once do you feel like they are all blending together.

There is one mechanic that adds so, so much to the experience – the checkpoint system. You will never be more thankful for a checkpoint system than here. It’s executed well for two huge reasons: 1) the checkpoints are very plentiful, and 2) returning to the last one does not lead to any load times.

Even the slightest load time would cripple this entire experience. Thankfully there are really none to be found here. If you mess something up (which you will, a LOT) all you have to do is hit the back button to go back to the start of the level, or the B button to go to the last checkpoint. It happens instantly without breaking the flow of the level at all. I’m very thankful for this feature since I’m fairly certain my record for failures in a level is around the 200 mark. This game and I would be done forever had those checkpoints not made everything ok.

I think I’ve made it clear that the game is difficult, but it’s worth reiterating so that the point is pounded into all of your heads. If you are easily frustrated and terrified of a challenge, I would stay far away from this one. Once you pass all of the Easy tracks, all bets are off. However despite the difficulty, I rarely got so frustrated that I would give up. I would try again and again because I always felt that next time I would do it. With each attempt you usually figure out one small detail that will help pass that obstacle and there is an immense amount of satisfaction when you finally conquer a particularly difficult section.

In addition to simply beating the tracks, each one has a medal system, and getting all Golds should take anyone a good amount of time, although I must say some of you are crazy good as this thing.

On top of all of that, there is a track editor that I haven’t been able to mess around with too much but looks to be pretty in-depth. I can definitely see this feature keeping the community alive for a while.

There are also a series of Skill Games, which are essentially mini-games with each one having a specific goal. Each one of them also has a medal system and I really don’t think there is a weak link in the bunch, although some are more fun than others. Examples of some of the skill games: how far can you drive while dragging a cart full of explosives, flying through as many rings of fire as possible, flinging your driver off the bike so he breaks his bones while smashing down a huge staircase (a definite highlight) and more.

Although I can't say this is my favourite of the Summer of Arcade releases ('Splosion Man is gonna be hard to beat), I still really enjoyed this game, much more than I ever could have anticipated. It’s fast, fun, addictive, and has some absolutely fantastic physics. You easily get your 1200 MS points worth of gaming here. If you aren’t scared of a challenge, then definitely check out Trials HD.