Before E3 2018, I had never played a Trials game before. I had rolled my eyes a bit at Trials of the Blood Dragon a few years ago and forgotten all about the game that seemed to be just about crashing motorcycles into increasingly absurd obstacles. But with the announcement of Trials Rising for Nintendo Switch and a chance at a hands-on demo of the game, I gave it a shot. And I'm so, so glad I did.
Trials Rising is the kind of goofy insanity that we need on the Nintendo Switch. You'd think a game where you fail constantly, over and over, would be stressful. But Trials' zany tricks and frequent checkpoints proved motivational, rather than frustrating, even for a novice like me.
What is Trials Rising?
Trials Rising puts you in the seat of a motorcycle on a series of increasingly insane courses. Movement is in 2D and you can only control four things: gas, brakes, leaning forward, and leaning backward. Everything else is up to the game's physics and silly obstacles, which means you'll crash a lot.
At the beginning, your goal will probably just be to learn the courses and get to the end of them at some point. Frequent checkpoints give a slight time penalty for death but otherwise plop you back right before the obstacle you failed to cross, so if you just ram into things enough times, you'll eventually make it. But ideally, you'll learn from your mistakes and start to understand how best to speed up, brake, and lean to overcome more and more difficult trials. And believe me, they get difficult.
What kinds of trials are there?
Once you can manage to make it through the courses, you might want to consider tackling the challenges set to you, improving your times, and competing against other players. As a reward, you'll unlock neat swag to wear while riding, like a horse hat. Simply improving your time across a trial will net you bronze, silver, or gold medals. Other rewards can be gleaned by completing challenges thrown at you such as performing a certain number of flips, finishing a course with fewer than a set number of crashes, or beating a specific time.
There are plenty of courses at multiple levels of difficulty, including one so extreme that I wasn't able to get past the second obstacle. The more you play, the better understanding you'll have of the game's physics and how to manipulate them to overcome obstacles. Speeding trains, barrels of explosives, huge loops, piles of junk, and international landmarks are just some of the crazy trials you'll have to overcome to finish all the courses with a gold and prove yourself a trials master.
How do you play?
While Trials Rising can get very challenging, it's also remarkably simple to understand. You accelerate to move forward, but you don't just want to keep you finger on the right trigger the whole time. There are times to let off the gas, and times to brake--for instance, there's a crazy jump in one of the stages onto a rolling obstacle that you can only make if you let off the gas with precise timing, then floor it once you land.
You'll also want to lean forward into loops (usually) to ensure you don't slide back, then lean back to keep yourself from tipping forward on jumps. Balancing on your bike will take practice, and leaning back is far more sensitive than leaning forward, so you'll need to take that into account. But Trials is generous with practice--it's hard to get discouraged.
You'll be able to select from multiple types of motorcycle, but by far my favorite was the tandem bike. You can play co-op with another friend on the same bike, but you'll need to coordinate verbally to ensure you're not leaning opposite directions or countering each other's actions. Once you understand how the physics work, partnering up is a fun added challenge.
It sounds like you die a lot...so, is it fun?
In my 30-minute hands-on demo at E3 2018, I had a blast despite never touching a Trials game before. Trials is beginner friendly and so utterly silly that it's impossible not to laugh at the stupid ways you flip over, fall off your bike, crash into ramps, and blow up (you will blow up a lot). Even the customizable outfits get ridiculous, and the courses also become increasingly more absurd the further you get into the game. It's fun alone, even more fun with a friend, and by far one of my favorite surprises I checked out during the show.
When can I start crashing?
Trials Rising is planned for launch on the Nintendo Switch on February 28, 2019. It will cost $39.99.
Curious about Trials Rising? Ask your questions in the comments and I'll help you out!
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