Trials HD

August 28, 2009

Don’t let the motorcycle fool you – Trials HD is a puzzle game, and a darn difficult one at that. Sure you’ll breeze through easy on your minibike and earn a few gold medals, but eventually you will find your way to hard and realize that you only have one level left – King of the Hill. That level will teach you patience, proper leaning, and mandatory use of the brakes like no other. But you won’t get frustrated. Instant restart and a generous restart ensure that whenever you want to try that last segment again you can do so without waiting through 45 seconds of loading screen (ahem…Stuntman).

Controls are simple, but the courses you’ll be traversing are not. Armed with only the two triggers and the left analog stick you will find your way over ramps, massive jumps, controlled falls, 360 degree flips, and even a hidden bowling game. RT is gas, LT is brake, and the left analog controls your motorcyclists lean. RedLynx takes its level groupings seriously. Hard is, well, hard. The last track I completed took over 100 restarts. I’m by no stretch of the imagination an expert at this, but the lion’s share of those restarts were a single incline section where I just could not convince my motorcycle to hop in a very specific way. Pulling off those fancy maneuvers though, feels great and is one of the driving forces that keeps me coming back to the game.

It is possible to unlock every track by simply getting a bronze on the previous track. Bronze requirements are low: complete the track. Silver are harder introducing fall limits and time limits, and gold medals are the hardest of all. If you haven’t mastered a track then you won’t be bringing home the gold. And you’ll want gold medals because obtaining them is what unlocks new tournaments and skill games. Trials HD definitely pushes you to try just one more time with its unlocks for good performance and integrated leader board. There aren’t ghosts or anything, but along the top of the screen you’ll see your progress as compared to the next best racer on your friends list. I love leader board integration like this, and on a couple tracks that was what really pushed me to learn the route.

Also of note is the track editor. And this isn’t some pared-down “you can put a ramp here and a ring of fire there” affair – it’s the same editor that the devs used to create all of the in-game tracks, giving would-be designers very little limits to what they can do.

Finally, Trials HD is beautiful. If you’ve played Trials or Trials 2 as Flash games then you’re in for a treat graphically. Everything is crisp and detailed, boxes fall apart after you land on them, glass breaks when you drive through it, and everything in the game is a physics object. Run into that plank to knock it down, clear that railing or risk flipping your bike over, avoid the TNT crates if you don’t want your poor little rider to get blown across the screen, and press Y at just the right time to become a human bowling ball and knock down all the pins in the Jolly Jumper level to net yourself an achievement and a gamer pic.

Trials HD is addictive, difficult, and most of all, fun. I find myself suffering from “just one more try” syndrome every time I play it, and so far it is my favorite entry in the 2009 edition of Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade promotion.

Pros: Difficult but fair, gorgeous visuals, full-featured track editor
Cons: Can be frustrating
Plays Like: Stuntman, Excitebike
ESRB: T for teen

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.