Back in 1995, my parents bought a Macintosh Performa 6116 as a family computer. It was the first real permanent desktop computer for our home, not a borrowed unit from one of the schools where either of my parents taught. Now that we had a computer that I could take a little more ownership of, and which connected to the still-unfamiliar internet, I began to discover just how much the World Wide Web had to offer. This was back when Hotmail was the cat’s meow, Netscape was the premier web browser, and “pirating” was still limited to knocking over a boat and stealing its cargo. Because digital media law wasn’t really a thing yet, shit was just out there for the taking, so long as your modem and hard drive could handle the file-size. I utilized this new-found magic to get video games (… and porn, but everyone used the ‘net for porn back then. Actually, everyone uses the internet for porn now. In fact, I’m surprised you’re reading this instead of looking up porn). One such game was called Trials.
That first iteration of Trials was a motorcycle and a line across the screen. The motorcycle’s throttle and gears were controlled with the mouse, and the line had various bumps and ledges which acted as obstacles. It was pretty fun at the time, but thinking back on how the mouse button changed gears and the cursor’s movement dictated throttle, and there was no control over which way the rider leaned (or maybe there was, and I just never knew about it), playing that game today would totally suck.
Fast forward to 2009 (when I had long forgotten about that crappy little motorbike game on my parents’ Macintosh that went obsolete before the iAnything was launched), RedLynx released Trials HD. I downloaded the demo on a friend’s recommendation, and something about it was familiar, but it wasn’t until the third or fourth track when I had that moment of clarity and realized I had played this game 14 years earlier. Upon further research, I found out there had been various flash games with the Trials formula, and even a full release for Windows in 2008. I wasn’t disappointed that I missed out on those earlier games, but it was nice to know that there was some history behind this incredibly addicting game that would overtake my summer and annoy the shit out of my girlfriend.
The first time I nailed a clean back flip in the demo for Trials HD, I was hooked. Soon after, I bought the full game and continued looking for huge jumps and ridiculous stunts to pull off. I’m a big fan of giant ramps and inconceivable distances to jump over, like Evel Knievel jumping Snake River Canyon or Danny Way over the Great Wall of China (the movie Hot Rod has a special place in my heart), so this game catered to me directly. After earning all the gold medals I could and beating all my friends’ records, I started playing less and less of Trials HD, until it eventually became a fond memory of a game that no longer appeared in the “Recently Played” tab of my downloaded titles.
Everything I hoped for in a sequel to Trials HD came to fruition in Trials Evolution. To be fair, “everything I hoped for” wasn’t much; it mostly boiled down to more tracks and multiplayer, which further distills down to just multiplayer, since a sequel to any game without new levels is just the same game all over again (I’m looking at you, Madden NFL franchise). On top of real-time local and online multiplayer, RedLynx also added Track Central, a feature that can make the game seemingly endless for the competitive perfectionist. As in HD, Evolution has a track creation system, allowing players to design tracks from their own head. However, where HD only let you upload tracks to your friends list for them to play, Evolution allows for public sharing and retrieval. Track Central even breaks down the player creations by ‘Highest Rated This Week’, ‘Highest Rated All Time’, and ‘RedLynx Picks’ among others, so no one has to dig though piles of shit tracks with no quality or challenge for something worth playing. It’s clear that a lot of effort goes into tracks created by our fellow players, and some of them are better than those from the core game.
Something many might not notice is the tighter control on the bike itself. That is not to say the controls in HD were bad, but there were plenty of times I found myself pissed off at HD about how under-responsive the Scorpion bike was compared to the hyper-sensitive Phoenix. However, Evolution seems to have found a wee more middle ground between the two, and repeated crashing now frustrates me more with myself than with the game.
Evolution also has bigger jumps, like really big fucking jumps, with enough hang time to make me apprehensive about how I plan to land them. I know it shouldn’t matter how I feel about my little virtual motocross dude-bro, but when I fuck those up, I have to try them again, and that makes for a slower time. This often results in re-starting from the beginning of the track so I can try for a faster overall time, and even if I nail that big fucking jump’s landing on this attempt, I might not hit the next one so cleanly, which means I’ll start the track over again… and you can see where this game gets mildly addicting.
Should you play this game? Maybe. I know it’s not for everyone, but those who get into it tend to just fucking love it. If you have an Xbox 360 that is connected to the interwebs, then I highly suggest you download the demo for Trials HD. If you don’t like it, let it go. But if you find yourself playing the same track over and over again for a faster time, then get the whole game and do your best to clear it (try to best my times while you’re at it). When you’re ready for more tracks and online competition, Trials Evolution will be waiting.