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Urban Trial Playground

Posted by GG Goblin On April - 9 - 2018

I did a Stoppie.

The Urban Trial games have been around for a few years now, offering the precision of a Trials game with the speed and pick up and play enjoyment of games such as OlliOlli. The latest title out of the Tate Multimedia stable is Urban Trial Playground, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch, and it takes the action to the sun-kissed California coastline. Bring on the sun!


Urban Trial Playground is a stunt bike racing game where the player simply moves from left to right through an obstacle filled level. While the gameplay only takes place in 2D, the levels are presented in 2.5D, with a beautiful sense of depth as the player whips along at high speed. Occasionally, the perspective changes in the level, making certain sections stand out, while also potentially throwing the player off their rhythm. With glorious beaches and beautiful sun-filled skies, the setting for Urban Trail Playground is the perfect antidote to the current British weather.

Moving from left to right across the screen may seem fairly straight forward, but Playground drops in a familiar mechanic where the player is able to have their rider lean forward or back on the bike. On the ground, this can help the player keep their balance and speed, or pull wheelies. But in the air, after jumping from one of the many makeshift ramps that appear in each of the levels, leaning back or forward will not only allow the player to angle the bike for the perfect landing, but also to do the various flips that constitute the tricks in the game.

There are two other mechanics that the player will need to know about to be successful in Playground. The first is the handily assigned front brake, used for performing Stoppies where the back wheel rises from the ground. The other mechanic is another commonly found in bike or skateboarding games, where the player pushes the left stick down and then flicks it up just as they take off from a jump. This gives the player a pop as they begin a jump, giving them more air and more time to perform flips and the like.

Racing through each level at high speed and without any mistakes is great fun. The game moves fast and there is a fluidity that makes a perfect run feel simply sublime. Popping from a jump means more time in the air and thus a slower finishing time, while different routes through a level can affect the time. Even riding along in a wheelie will affect the finishing time, so there is a lot to think about for the speed runners.


However, there is also the matter of scoring big, which will involve not only finishing quickly, but also pulling off tricks. Getting the big scores will mean combining both speed and an endless combination of tricks in each of the short levels. Levels are scored with stars, and with some levels looking for speed while others look for a high score, players will have to switch up their tactics depending on what is needed.

It is very easy to zip through a level and then move onto the next, but there is always a reason to head back and retry levels. Each level has certain set goals, which can be as simple as finishing without a crash, or much more complex such as performing a number of forward flips before the end. There are also collectibles hidden in each of the levels, giving the player yet another reason to head back in and search a level. With more than 50 levels in Urban Trial Playground, there is plenty of content to keep the player going.

There is a small amount of unlockable customisation in the game, where the player can not only get new bikes, but also upgrade their bikes to make them perform better, making better speeds and higher scores available in the levels. There are also options to make the rider look even cooler than they already do. There are not massive options, but what is there is a great incentive to keep playing.

Urban Trial Playground is a brilliant fit for the Nintendo Switch on the go. It is easy to pick up and play while offering plenty of depth for the more accomplished player. However, Playground also makes great use of the Switch’s multiplayer functionality by offering split screen play for two players across a selection of different modes, including the excellent Tag mode in which one player gets a head start and the other must catch them. Playing with another player is very exciting and a great addition to the game.

Urban Trial Playground is a lovely looking game, and runs very smoothly, which is no real surprise given that this is only the latest game in a long running series. There are limitations to the game, however, in the number of different tricks that are available to the player. The trick list is very basic and once the player has mastered the flips, wheelies and stoppies, getting a high score becomes quite easy. The game would definitely have benefited from more tricks, but at least this way keeps the game quick and accessible.


Urban Trial Playground is a side-scrolling stunt bike racer with more emphasis on racing, and less on stunts. Lacking the puzzle element of the Trials games, Playground is easy to play and enjoy in quick hit game sessions. Urban Trial fans will know what to expect, while newcomers will find some nice and easy arcade stunt action in Urban Trial Playground.




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