As I’m sure most people who grew up in the heyday of the NES will tell you, one of the most awesome games available was Excitebike. Not only was Excitebike a cool little racer with a surprising amount of control over the positioning of the bike and temperature, but there was also a design mode where the player could build their own tracks. Even by today’s standards, that’s pretty cool.
We have a modern day spiritual successor to Excitebike in the form of the Trials series, and now that awesomely addictive series comes to your 3DS with everything you’ve come to expect, including a full track editor. HOURS of your time will be eaten away by this game, no joke.
For those that are new to the series, the Trials franchise debuted on XBLA in the form of Trials HD. The game, and all the other Trials games after it, featured an addictive concept; get your biker from Point A to Point B and traverse an entire level of obstacles in between while controlling the pitch of your physic-based motorcycle. The game is presented with 3D graphics but at heart it’s a 2D side-scroller. Players can only move forward and backwards, or the occasional up and down when your bike is launched into the air.
Urban Trial Freestyle brings all of that to the palm of your hands and adds a surprisingly bearable 3D effect to it all. I would say about 80% of the games I have played for the 3DS give me a headache with the 3D. I almost never use it, with the exception of a few games like Super Mario 3D World and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Urban Trail Freestyle has an awesome 3D effect that actually works really well in adding a convincing sense of depth to the game. This is especially noticeable with drops, which can be vertigo inducing…in a good way.
Urban Trial Freestyle’s main “campaign” is broken down into two parts; a score/trick mode and a time attack mode. The score/trick mode scatters a bunch of tricks throughout each level that the player must perform, such as flips, longest/highest jump, speed checks, etc. The better you do on these tricks, the more stars you put towards your final score at the end of the level. Much like mobile game scoring (for example, Angry Birds’ three star system), UTF scores each level on a 5 star basis. Do poorly, get fewer stars. Do well, and get more stars. Simple. You’re not going to hurting for variety either, as UTF offers up 45+ levels spread across five diverse cityscapes.
The time attack mode does away with all the tricks and just asks the player to get from beginning to end as quickly as possible…which is no easy task considering all the obstacles are still there. Because physics plays such a major role in the base gameplay, getting from A to B is going to force you to tear your eyes out with sheer frustration. You’re always being forced into steep climbs, sheer drops, loops, moving sections of the level, springboards…you name it. Add to that the fact that you have to feather the throttle and brakes regularly, lest you want to flip yourself over repeatedly. It all adds up to a nice challenge.
There is also a very light multiplayer mode included in the form of racing against your own or your friends’ ghosts, and also leaderboard challenges. Nothing too fancy here, but it’s nice to have the options if this sort of thing interests you.
Then there’s the track editor. Honestly, while the gameplay to any Trials game is a load of fun, the real reason to keep coming back is to build more and more elaborate tracks, and this game is no exception. I still remember the glory days of the older Tony Hawk games where you can build your own levels, and UTF pretty much puts them all to shame. Pretty much anything you see in any level (and them some) can be put into your level. Let craziness ensue!
Urban Trial Freestyle is not a particularly long game if you only take the single player modes into consideration. While there are a lot of levels and different bikes to build, the main “campaign” can be completed in probably just a few hours. Obviously trying to 5 star each Stunt and Time Attack mode will eat up more of your time, but this shouldn’t be a game that will take you longer than a day to complete if you really choose to sit down and play it all the way through.
No, where the value of UTF lies is in the track editor, because if you think about it, UTF doesn’t have 45+ levels across 5 cityscapes; it actually has endless levels. You just need to create them, so those who itch to design the craziest levels, have at it!