"Warning: Lousy Slogans Will Cause Nausea. Read With Caution"
When I first picked up Trick Style, I noticed that on the back, next to some juicy looking screenshots, was the slogan "Got the skills to get ill?" Little did they know, a wave of sickness washed over me. I imagined a room full of marketing executives in suits and ties, reading through a slang dictionary. "Trust me Mr. Tate, all the hip kids love this new lingo."
Being the devoted soul that I am, I read on, "Carve it up all over futuristic Manhattan, London and Tokyo." Choking back the bile that I could feel trying to race up my throat, I popped a refreshing mint in my mouth and continued my ordeal. Sadly, I happened upon the ultimate sin, "Speed is cool but sick tricks rule!" Ill? Sick? The mint, valiant though it was, was not nearly enough. I spewed up chocolate cheery brown and egg-yolk yellow. We had to call the cleaners. Acclaim would be well advised to do the same.
Trick Style is a new hoverboard racing game and the first Dreamcast to PC port in history. It could be, if it worked, a light and entertaining racing game that wows with flashy graphics and amusing stunts. That is, like I said, if it worked.
You fire up Trick Style, negotiate its simple console based interface, select a racer, grab a hoverboard (think Back to the Future part 2, but with colorful streaks like in Akira), and then you begin to race around in something called the Velodrome (what the hell is it with 'dromes' anyway?). This is an arena from which you can select a race or compete in challenges to gain access to more flagrant stunts.
Once you learn the basic controls, master the basic stunts, and get a feel for things, you might very well try out a race. You and five other racers compete over medium-length, linear (non-looped) tracks located in future versions of London, Manhattan, and a flying Tokyo.
By now, you will have definitely noticed the slick graphics. Using an updated version of the Renderware engine used in Redline Racer, Criterion Studios, developer of both games, has created a very slick graphical package. The textures are sharp and clean, not exhibiting any of the blurryness common to N64 or Playstation ports (Dreamcast is good for something you know). Colored lighting is well implemented, character design is varied, track design is typically cool, and the special effects, such as the color trails left by your Hoverboard, Homeworld-style, are nice enough to look at. Still, you can't help but think that a game intended to put to good use the power of the Dreamcast could do far better.
Control is also a pleasant matter: your racer responds quickly, and you should have no problem pulling off some cool maneuvers in no time. The game spends a good deal of time forcing you to exploit environments like half pipes to really get a hang of the more advanced maneuverability. There are four basic stunt buttons (Ollie, SpeedLuge, Spin, and Drill), and these effects may be strung together to pull off more impressive stunt combos. There is also a stall control for extending the duration of some stunts, and a tight turn control for pulling all those tricky 90-degree angle turns.
It should be noted though, that the game is winnable even without using any stunts. You typically only have to learn stunts to get future stunts, which are cool to look at but will and up slamming you into a wall more often than giving you the advantage.
Playing Trick Style can be reasonably, though not extravagantly entertaining, (it being basically a gimmicky racing game, nothing too new). But it would be more entertaining if you could play without the game crashing, which sort of shoots the whole thing in the foot, causing it to fall down a flight of stairs, out onto the street, where it is run over by conventional cars which do not float above the ground.
Trick Style suffers from complete system freeze, hard-restart crashes. This happens more frequently with certain 3D cards, although there is a patch now that makes it run better. This makes the game a great exercise in frustration, especially when it crashes just as you are about to finish in 1st place, which is Trick Style's one and only victory condition, no Bronze or Silver medals here. Beyond that, there are some 'loading' times where your screen goes black and the computer does nothing for about 2 minutes. I'd guess it's probably just mentally preparing itself for the eventual forced restart.
Want to race online? No way. The only multiplayer supported is a split screen view that seems even more crash prone than the regular game.
Add that to the lackluster sound (except for the voices of the racially stereotyped characters, which are downright aggravating), and you end up with a average, unimpressive, at times frustrating game that needs a more serious patch than the one currently available. The flashy graphics just aren't enough to satisfy, and the tricks are nice, but unnecessary. Don't bother with this one until it works better, and the irate Asian racer no longer passes you while saying, with full chop-suey accentuation, "sooo suuu meeee!" It's almost as nauseating as the slogans on the box.