Developed by Finnish company Red Lynx, Trials HD is one of the real gems of the Xbox Live Arcade. Referred to as a 2.5D game (It’s 3D but played on a 2D plane, movement is restricted to forwards and backwards like a traditional platformer) the player rides a physics based motorcycle through a series of levels, while navigating a variety of obstacles. The objective of Trials HD is really simple; complete the courses as fast as possible with as few a crashes (called Faults) as possible.
“Out of the box” Trials HD comes with 35 courses for the player to navigate, each designed with the level editor. They can be replayed as many times as desired, allowing the player to attempt to go back and improve their previous results and earn platinum medals (the highest medal one can earn – get all platinum and you are a god among men). There are also tournaments available to the player that put combinations of courses in a series which also has a medal rank system similar to the individual courses, the difference being that the time it takes you to complete the tournament and the amount of faults you’ve picked up across all courses will factor in.
In addition to the individual courses and tournaments, there are also a select of ‘skill games’. Skill games differ from the normal courses in that you’re not out to go from start to finish! One of the skill games is ‘King of the Hill’. The objective? See how far you can get up the ever increasingly difficult slope. Another of the skill games merely requires you to build up speed then crash, to attempt to break as many bones as possible. Ever seen a movie where a person/dare devil rides a motorcycle inside a ball cage? Trials HD offers something similar, however, you are required to get the ball rolling and see how far you can get without crashing. A variation of that sees the player atop the ball.
As I mentioned earlier, all the courses in the game were made with the Level Editor that Red Lynx have packaged with the game. What does mean? Well, not only can you design your own levels but knowing we are using the same tool as the developers, through the standard courses we can see just what we can achieve with the right amount of time. Through Xbox Live, you can share any courses you’ve created with your friends, or download any that they might have made. Of course, for the competitive types, Trials HD lets you see how you measure up to your friends on the various courses you can play as well.
Since it’s release in 2009, Red Lynx have also gone on to release two DLC packs for Trials HD (both of which are available for 400 MS points each), Big Pack and Big thrills, which combined have added over 60 new courses to the base game, as well as some new variations of skill games. The new courses also added in objects not previously seen in the game which means for those who like to use the Level Editor to build their own courses, they have all new toys to play with.
This game for me, highlights just how good an arcade game can be on Xbox Live. Despite only being played on the 2D plane, the graphics are visually stunning, better than a lot of non-Arcade titles. The controls are deceptively simple but don’t degrade the difficulty at all. It’s also one of those games that seems to blend entertainment and hair pulling frustration together well. Some of the obstacles will make you question your manhood (if you’re a man) when you fail repeatedly to get past them. This only seems to add to the sense of satisfaction when you complete one of the harder stages. At least until you notice that one of your Xbox Live friends just beat your time..