The motocross stunt slash biker murder simulator has a perfect home on Nintendo’s box of joy
A lot of games have high body counts – Dead Rising offered achievements to players who killed an entire town’s worth of zombies, for example – but the Trials series has a particular line in merry motorcycle-borne mortality that would easily startle someone just expecting a simple biking game. I played a lot of Trials Fusion, the last game in the series, and I racked up a frankly alarming number of misadventures in that time (although the game does heavily imply that the riders are clones, which is a whole other kettle of ethical fish). There are two reasons for the amount of biker blood on my hands – firstly, courses in Trials games are tricky and even a successful run will usually end very badly for your rider. Secondly, Trials games are roughly as addictive as illegal narcotics.
The tricky manoeuvres required to navigate a Trials course are complemented by a zero-load-time restart/checkpoint system that helps to keep your frustration levels low by ensuring that you’re back to action within seconds of a fall, even if you choose to restart the entire course. Add to this a medal system and challenges and suddenly you have a twitchy “just one more try” bike-based puzzle platformer that keeps a light-hearted atmosphere throughout. All of this is getting to the main point that I’ve taken away from playing the Trials Rising open beta over the weekend, which is that this game being on the Switch is going to destroy my life. And I’m okay with that.
Trials Rising doesn’t offer anything especially new in terms of core gameplay – you guide a stunt bike rider through a course of ramps, flips and tricks while trying your best to beat a gold medal time, handily represented on screen as a ghost rider for you to chase down. The courses are new, and involve real-life locations from all over the world, so if you’ve ever wanted to ride a motorbike through the Valley of Kings this is your chance. As you ride you earn new bikes and new customisation options, and there are (of course) lootboxes full of cosmetics. What is new, though, is the gameplay experience offered by the Switch. Trials Rising is a game that is entirely based on quick play – you pick it up, you load a course, that’s it. No extraneous loading times or excess fat on the gameplay loop. Couple this with the Switch going from standby to in-game in under five seconds and you’ve suddenly got the ability to give that course another try in any spare minute and a half of the day, anywhere you want.
There are other nice things that Rising does on the Switch – one of my favourite little details was how the right joycon vibrated when the front wheel hit and the left when the rear wheel hit. It may be that the Xbox and Playstation controllers offer similar left-right vibration, but the joycons being separated really makes it a clear and useful piece of tactile feedback that can help you make micro-corrections to your course to help you shave those extra couple of seconds from your time. It also looks great in handheld mode – I still see a lot of people being unsure that the Switch can perform well in portable mode, but Trials Rising is an excellent example of the incredible portable experience that the Switch can offer.
The open beta was missing some of the features that the full game promises – the course creator, bike customisation and online play – but from the short amount of time I had with it I can tell that I’m going to see a lot of ragdoll physics in my near future.
These impressions are based on the Trials Rising open beta for the Nintendo Switch (screenshots taken from the Trials Rising press kit). The full game is out tomorrow, 26th February.