And yet, I never want to stop playing.
Without a doubt, the original Trials was one of the purest examples of true Xbox Live Arcade ingenuity. Taking a concept that had already done the Newgrounds rounds, Trials found a faithful following in the corridors of the infamous flash-game site and did so by way of its oddly impressive physics and endless replay opportunity. And because falling off was hilarious.
The very mention of the game’s looming XBLA release sold it to me, and like hundreds and thousands of other players, I fell in love with the stylistic approach to launching a bloke 300 feet off a motorcross bike and watching him limply rebound off pieces of concrete until his body more closely resembled a collection of small pieces of splintered wood in a bag.
To round off what was already a complete package of challenging, addictive gameplay, with enough variation in the form of its mini-games and harder levels to keep you playing until your thumbs became faint outlines replaced mainly by dust and frustration, they through in a level editor.
In hands as infantile as my own, the level editor was merely an additional way to make poor old Helmety McDriver plummet to his incorrectly perceived death. However once a particularly talented friend of mine got to grips with it, it became a treasure trove of utterly, incomprehensibly, hilariously impossible tracks that kept a room of us laughing until we couldn’t see.
How do you improve upon such a winning formula, without sacrificing even an inch of that core-mechanic that captured everybody’s hearts the first time round?
You do everything that Evolution has done. Bigger, longer, more exciting tracks, with a multitude of explosive, awe-inspiring scenic set pieces. Evolution is bigger, but just as focussed, triumphantly bringing the concrete industrial setting of the first game to the great outdoors and beyond. And it’s not only the setting that’s gotten all ahead of itself. The level editor lets you MAKE GAMES. Full games. Variants of classic formulas like Kula World and Bloke With Ski’s on, as well as FIRST PERSON SHOOTERS are all possible with the unfathomably malleable editor that comes bundled with the only game on XBLA.
Thing is, there is no possible way that your doctor would endorse the intake of Trials Evolution. He’d recommend against it infact. He’d say it’s bad for you, and if you play it too much, you’ll end up a furious, quivering shell of a man, who squandered his riches on replacement pads and thumbs.
The nightmarish addition to Evolution is the ghost markers of all your friends’ runs. In the original, they were secreted tidily within the distance meter right at the top of your screen. Easy to ignore. But not anymore. A small collection of white, labelled dots hover tentatively above your head whilst the starting counter ticks down, and then BANG. They’re all gone. Should you momentarily manage to catch up to them, you become so entangled, so blindly fixated with maintaining your lead, all essence of accuracy, balance and self-preservation go hurtling out of the window, and you end up scrambling down an almost vertical drop, scraping your face along the floor desperately trying to regain any idea of control before clipping some peculiarly positioned explosives and are sent flying into space never to be seen again.
Or. Something. You know.
In summary, Trials Evolution is infuriatingly, disparagingly, despicably brilliant, and I hate it. Buy it immediately, if not sooner.