So many ramps, so little time.
The Trials games by RedLynx have carved themselves a nice niche when it comes to physics-based motorcycle platformers and are an obvious inspiration for this 3DS eShop title, Urban Trial Freestyle, by Tate Multimedia.
However, to say that Urban Trial Freestyle has been inspired by the Trials games may be a little kind. Some may actually say that it is an outright inferior copy of the games. But where you draw the line between a copy and an imitation is entirely up to you. The fact still remains that Urban Trial Freestyle on 3DS (and also on other platforms such as PS3 and Vita) has the potential to be a highly entertaining game.
Gamers who have played the Trials games before will feel right at home here in Urban Trial Freestyle, but for those who have yet to discover the pleasure of launching a flailing bike rider into the air and watching as he lands face first on the lip of a ramp, here is what to expect -
The player is given control of a bike and rider. Pressing the A button makes the bike accelerate, with the goal being to reach the other end of a short course packed full of obstacles. Moving the stick moves the weight of the rider back and forth to adjust the balance, providing the most important mechanic to master. Simply by shifting the weight, the player is able to ride their bike up near vertical ramps, or land on an uneven surface after dropping from a massive height. Simply reaching the end of any course is sometimes a challenge, but doing so without falling off once is the real target that all players should be aiming for.
Players are also able to reverse the bike, restart from checkpoints and brake. In fact, in Urban Trial Freestyle, the brake actually proves to be much more important than in the Trials games, with the possibility of overshooting a jump very real. In some cases, this may feel like a cheap tactic as the player will not know what speed they need until it is too late, ruining a good run. However, it is part of the game, so pick up your crumpled heap of a rider and get back to the start, knowing a little bit more about the track that awaits.
Of the tracks, there are some 20 odd spread across different worlds and themes. The tracks are well varied and provide their fair share of surprises to keep the player on their toes.
There are two modes available, allowing the player to approach each track from two different angles. The first mode will see the player racing through the course to finish in the fastest time possible, with penalties for crashing, whilst the second mode is all about performing tricks during the run. Players are awarded a star rating when they finish, and achieving a full five stars on a track is a formidable challenge, especially as the game progresses.
Special challenge levels can be unlocked by getting a good rating, allowing the player to try their hand at something a little different. These levels, which can include limited fuel runs as an example, are only a gimmick but provide a nice break and reward for doing well. There is also a course editor which lets players get all creative and design their own courses. A nice addition, but the inability to share created courses severely limits the fun.
Progression through the game is rewarded with cash, which can also be found through the levels. This money can be spent on new gear for the rider and bike customisation. However, the options available are limited to only a few items.
Visually, Urban Trial Freestyle looks alright. It seems to be a bit rough around the edges, even for a 3DS game, and there are a fair few graphical glitches, but there is plenty of detail and the 3D effect is quite good.
The gameplay itself also has a few glitches, and a few moments where the physics of the game seemed a little off. Things are certainly more floaty than expected, and this takes a little while to adjust to. But none of this really affected the enjoyment of the game.
As a Trials clone, Urban Trial Freestyle doesn’t fall too short of the mark. There are a few problems that slightly tarnish the final result, and the game could certainly have used more polish. But all in all, Urban Trial Freestyle is an entertaining little title that fits very well on the Nintendo handheld.