A perfectionist's wet dream: retry, retry, retry!
Trials HD is a painful game in many aspects. As soon as you press start and begin your first level, you'll instantly know why: It immediately throws you against one apparently insurmountable challenge after another, all of which leave you in a bloody mess until you get them right. But let's not jump to conclusions - Trials HD is a beautiful-looking high-definition version of the simple yet devilishly difficult Internet sensation Trials, which puts you in the pilot's seat of an off-road motorbike placed in crazy two-dimensional stunt tracks that become increasingly harder as you progress through the various circuits.
[image1]Levels are all about racing against the clock and your friends' times. Crashes are inevitable, but don't set you back much, as a quick press of a button teleports your mangled body back to the latest, conveniently placed checkpoint so you can try again. And believe me, you'll try and try again, multiple times, since some levels are merciless. On the other hand, this game rewards dedication and determination, giving special gifts like more levels, gamerpics, and tools for the level editor as you get better times and progress through challenges.
The main challenge in lies in its 50 trials, separated into a variety of difficulty classes that begin with an introductory tutorial phase. This structure of stage progression works to your benefit, since Trials does not pull any punches when it comes to testing your patience and muscle memory, as its simplicity provides an immense amount of depth in the form of how you tackle the jumps and hoops in order to get better times. Not all levels have a single path to the finish line, nor is there a formula to getting a perfect time or a gold medal every time.
[image2]The amount of control your rider has seems pretty limited at first - you can tilt forward and back, accelerate and brake your bike - but the game's fine use of physics is all you need to get through every challenge. The only upgrades you can expect to get are new gear, and even then, a speedy bike isn't always the answer for a particularly complex challenge.
After you get through the main Race mode, you can put your talents toward stunt levels that provide a wide range of crazy challenges, like maintaining the speed of a gigantic spiked ball with your bike for as long as possible - one my personal favorite cringe-inducing moments.
Trials HD also gives you a level editor, which will be the game's lifeline in terms of post-game content for dedicated players. The amount of customization is just about as complex as we've come to expect with similar level editors, and will and will allow sick creators to torture players with nearly impossible tracks.
[image3]It's easy to put Trials HD aside with the excuse that "it's just too damn hard" or that "it's cheating", but for those with a taste for challenge, it can prove to be an incredibly addicting experience, one that will last you a while if you are the type who wants to be on top of every leaderboard. As an aid, it includes a database of the top players' saved replays that include the precise button presses and techniques used by the top time 'trialists' online. While this in time will contribute to a lot of repetitive videos of the same time trials by people itching to be on top, like Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts' similar feature, it's a fun gimmick if used sparingly.
RedLynx might just have hit the jackpot with Trials HD as the longest lasting game in the Summer of Arcade lineup, rivaling even 'Splosion Man in terms of length with its level editor. It'll be a matter of seeing if the community is up to the challenge of keeping the game alive with custom and unique tracks, and if that happens, I will be trying a lot of these tracks. Or, as in most cases, retry them.