Holy cow. How come I never knew this game was so simple, yet so addictive, and replayable? Trials, as a series, has been around now for some time. I remember going to a few PAXes and seeing the Ubisoft booth hopping with people playing the game on big screens, while actual BMX riders did stunts in a half-pipe. I remember thinking, that’s cool, but it’s probably not for me. Flash forward a few years and here I am ready to espouse the glory of Trials Rising, the latest game from Red Lynx and Ubisoft in the cult hit franchise. This is our Trials Rising review for the Nintendo Switch.
The conceit is simple. For those who were as blissfully unaware of this series’ allure as me, Trials is a physics based side-scrolling racer. You ride a motorcycle, R propels you forward, L puts on the breaks, and the left and right stick tilt your rider front and back (to balance on hills and to do tilt in mid-air). Each course you’ll ride on is more outlandish and ridiculous than the last, with death-defying leaps, falls, and tons of moving pieces and parts that always keep you on your toes.
It’s odd, but you can compare Trials to a game like Super Meat Boy or even the now-on-hiatus Prince of Persia. You’ll fail a lot but it never feels cheap or too difficult. It’s always easy to tell that any crash or fault you come to is due to your own inadequacy. And that’s the beauty of Trials. You can reset a level with the push of a button, as most races are done asynchronously against ghosts of other players. There is online world-wide multiplayer, but the main draw for me was trying and retrying the many course scattered over the world map, and trying to best my friends’ times and scores.
Oh, and then there’s the other genius of Trials Rising – a full-on creator mode that lets you make and sell your own cosmetic items for in-game currency on the marketplace. And yes, there’s a track creator too. Those can be shared, a constant stream of new and difficult content to play with, though the base game is absolutely filled with tracks and challenges too. There are already two planned expansions to the game, one due in April, another in August (I believe), and both can be bought for a mere $20.
Trials Rising caught me by absolute surprise. It’s not without its faults. Controls can sometimes feel too touchy, but often result in hilarious rag-doll crashes. Visuals on the handheld mode look jaggy as heck and just not up to par with the far better looking docked mode. But that’s a limitation of the port, no doubt. The punk and metal-infused music is top-notch, and the hilarious nature of every course is simply some of the best level design in gaming.