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Terrific Tribulation- Trials HD Reviewed

Trials HD for the Xbox 360. Developer: Red Lynx, Publisher: Microsoft ESRB: T

Having played a myriad of similar physics-based puzzlers, ranging from Space Bikers to a Thrillville: Off the Rails minigame, I didn’t immediately take notice when Trails HD was announced for the Xbox Live Arcade. However, when word spread that the title would include a course editor, anticipation grew. Could this be the spiritual successor to Exitebike, a game that augmented its brilliant motocross-inspired gameplay with a potent construction tool?

Although Trials HD’s focus in on environmental navigation rather than pure racing, in many ways the two titles are shockingly similar. Both simplify racing by confining it to a 2D plane, where the focus is keeping your bike’s wheel parallel to the track. After Trials HD’s initial load, the titles near-absence of load times, make the game feel like a classic cartridge-based affair. Unlike the twenty-four year old NES game, Trials HD players must also control the balance of the vehicle’s rider, leaning front and back for stability. This small nuance, coupled with a robust physics system, gives the title a unexpected amount of depth.

The game presents five main difficulty levels, extending from Beginner to the maddeningly difficult, Extreme. Each rank presents ten stages, commencing with a tutorial, with the remainder ramping up the challenge suitably. Once players enter the third stratum, the game moves from a relaxed affair, to an arduous test of precision and patience.  One stage required players to cautiously balance on a rolling plank, moving frantically a rollercoaster-like track. Later, that same stage defied players to navigate between two huge steel spheres separated by a pit of fire. While each challenge has multiple checkpoints, a reliance on the devices typically bars the player from achieving a gold, or silver medal.

Fortunately, a press of the back button instantly sends the player back to the start of the stage, giving the often neglected key an unrivaled workout. From this rapid attempt-fail-restart loop, Trails HD slowly get its claws around you, and before long, the player has a restarted the stage a hundred times. Using a limited asset set, the designers gave each stage a distinctive feel, incorporating a number of puzzles skillfully in each zone.

Trials HD’s level editor skillfully has two complexity settings allowing novices and veterans to construct a playable contest in minutes. The feature’s one drawback is that levels can only be shared directly with people on your Live lists. The title inexplicably limits sharing stages with ‘friend of friends’, eliminating the possibility of incredibly imaginative levels being circulated virally.

Despite the game’s obsessions with explosions, chain-reactions, and sweeping courses, the title’s framerate maintains an unwaveringly sixty frame per second output. The game’s visual palette is wonderfully moody, with plenty of shadows and grime, with just enough illumination from lamps, detonations, and the player’s headlight to keep things from being prohibitively dark. Trials HD’s camera typically does a proficient job at keeping both the protagonist and the ground in view at all times.

Trials HD is the quintessential European gaming experience, offering players a fastidiously programmed diversion that holds a remarkable amount of depth, and nearly insurmountable challenge. Once the game’s fifty levels and mini-games have exhausted their novelty, the course editor ensures interest for a supplementary duration, easily warranting the games fifteen dollar price. While controller-throwing types might lack the patience for some of the game’s grueling difficulty, as others encouraged to play Trial HD’s demo. Just make sure you have enough Microsoft points banked for when the obsession hits; for many, a short Trial just won’t be enough.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Best Summer of Arcade game by far. I played until the AM, and I’m paying the price today.

  2. Haha. I also miss the old Euro games. I miss the demo scene as well.

  3. The demo felt like Trackmania to me. Is that a European game too?

  4. Whenever I se the title, I think Trails, not Trials.

  5. Looks good. motorcycles and explosions are foll of win.

  6. I heard one of the Rebel FM’s said it was harder that horseshit.

  7. Isn’t Ubisoft european? There games are always American, esp. the Tom Clancy ones.

  8. Elasto Mania says welcome to 2009.

  9. Wait you can only share levels with friends? Why Microsoft, why?

  10. You might have dyslexia dude.

  11. Looks cool, will they bring it to the PS3?

  12. Yeah, I have a feeling MS put that in place. God and Gates only know.

  13. I heard this game is $10 somewhere, but where. Anyone know?

  14. Are you in a warehouse or what? The graphics make it look like Jigsaw’s crib.

  15. I’m picking this up for sure.

  16. The games sound great. I miss the balls-hard challenge of the NES days.

  17. The team is based in Paris.

  18. Amazon. But it’snot for sale right now.

  19. They seriously need to patch this. Can you even make a penis shaped level?

  20. Game is hard as hell.

  21. I’m really enjoying the demo.

  22. This is getting really, really quick, but I’m loving it so far.

  23. Hows the music and sound effects in the game?

  24. You’re not kidding. Great review.

  25. What is the bolt in the first pic for?

  26. Unlocked medium as its getting harder.

  27. 1200 points. I wish it was 800.

  28. Like someone said Amazon has it for $10.

  29. It the last level inferno II even possible. I tried it 100 times.

  30. One of the best XBLA games I’ve played. Great review.

  31. Anyone notice games are getting toucher these days?

  32. Amazing game. Loved the review!

  33. I just spent an hour and a half with the demo. Seemed like minutes. This game is dangerous.