If you’ve ever indulged in a little of Redlynx’s Trials series, tried your hand at some Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or dabbled a little with Hello Games’ Joe Danger on last-gen consoles, you’ll have a good idea of what Urban Trial Tricky is attempting to aim towards. Tate Multimedia has created a messy mish-mash of all three here, with cartoony characters taking on urban stunt ramp courses filled with obstacles, jumps, trampolines and see-saws that you’ll traverse on your motorcycle as you attempt to grab some massive air and pull off all manner of spectacular tricks whilst avoiding wiping out. It’s a decent enough effort and for its budget price there’s a fair amount of content to keep you busy but, unfortunately, there’s an overriding scrappiness to the whole thing that makes it hard to truly fall for hard this one – which is ironic given how often we busted our faces off its virtual concrete.
Urban Trial Tricky starts out by giving you a quick tutorial in how to move your bike around the screen and it’s straight out of the Trials playbook with accelerating and decelerating mixed with shifting your weight around in order to stay balanced or pull off wheelies and stoppies. Beyond this, there’s a dedicated jump button which you’ll use to clear small obstacles and, more importantly, hold in as you speed up ramps, letting go as you summit in order to launch yourself extra high and gain enough hangtime to pull out a big fat combo of slick tricks.
Using the left and up D-pad buttons in various combinations whilst in the air, or mid-wheelie or stoppie, your rider can perform a bunch of tricks of varying degrees of difficulty that will earn you points and pulling off ultra skills – which require more complex combo presses and better judgment of how long you’ve got before you hit the deck – will obviously net you bigger scores, better combos and more stars and coins at the end of the round. Pulling off fancy moves here also gradually fills your special gauge and once it’s full you can hit ZR and ZL to launch into a super move and really rack up some big points.
Alongside all of this, Urban Trial Tricky also adds the ability to rotate your rider in order to pull off 360s, 720s and so on, but also so that you can traverse courses in the opposite direction – and it’s here where we feel like the game’s design lets it down somewhat. Courses are designed to be traversed left-to-right repeatedly, and as a result, all of them feel quite small and cluttered. What works well and feels like an intricate and bespoke playground of opportunities on a skateboard is actually a confined and rather irritating trial a lot of the time when speeding around on a large motorbike.
As an example of this, the game will often ask you to perform a stoppie or wheelie move at a moment’s notice, and it’s often nigh-on impossible on many courses to find the space to actually do this without seriously messing up your score or the flow of a run. You need a nice little flat run to get up on one wheel, especially for a stoppie, and a lot of the time you’ll find yourself on a ramp or some other piece of terrain that means you’ll have to backtrack or wait in order to pull your move off. It ruins the flow of a run and it feels awkward and a little messy.
This problem extends to the layout of some parts of courses, too, where it feels as though you don’t have space to do anything without crashing. We found ourselves cursing quite a lot of the playgrounds here for not giving us the space to really open up, get our speed up and get into a real flow of huge tricks at a high tempo. The game’s selection of see-saws and trampolines also feel criminally under-used, appearing in just a handful of the roughly thirty courses here in a rather slapdash and uninspired way.
Beyond these problems, though, pulling off the actual tricks themselves feels pretty great; the bikes have a great sense of speed and putting together combos of backflips, 180-degree spins and ridiculous out-of-the-saddle super moves is never less than very entertaining. As well as showing off your trick skills, the game also challenges you to pick up snack items and money bags scattered around courses, with snacks boosting your score multiplier whilst money bags are for spending on customisation. There are a fair amount of new bikes, riders, silly costumes and exhaust effects to unlock with your money, points and stars but, more importantly, there are lots of new stunts to be unlocked, allowing you to personalise runs nicely by allocating your favourite and most outrageous moves to the various button presses available.
In terms of modes, Urban Trial Tricky is split into Time, Tricks and Competition. Time mode sees you attempt to reach a course’s end as quickly as possible – you’ll get extra points for beating the dev’s time – whilst pulling off random stunts that pop up at the top of your screen and grabbing items that wipe a few precious seconds off your current clock. Tricks mode is all about putting together intricate and flashy runs in order to score big and gain a maximum of five stars for each course and Competition challenges you with pulling off as many prescribed tricks as possible to score big. All courses here also come with sets of side challenges that ask you to pull off a certain number of a specified trick, score a certain amount of points and so on, and there are also (very importantly) online leaderboards – a feature that’s absolutely crucial to any kind of longevity in a game of this nature.
Overall, Urban Trial Tricky is a decent budget title that’s fun in short bursts and feels good when you’re speeding up a ramp or pulling off some ludicrous combo of tricks high above a stage. However, it’s let down slightly by uninspired courses that feel messy to manoeuvre around in; we just wish there was far more space to truly bust out some serious speed and put together some really satisfying runs without constantly being made to stop or busting our heads off some low-hanging bit of scenery. In short, it’s a good idea that’s been executed with a lack of finesse – it doesn’t look too hot, either, with blurry visuals in both docked and handheld modes.
Urban Trial Tricky mashes together elements of the Trials series, Tony Hawks and Joe Danger resulting in a fairly decent motorbike stunt experience that’s fun when you’re speeding around and pulling off ridiculous tricks, but is let down by some shoddy level design and an overall lack of finesse. If there was more space to manoeuvre and environmental obstacles and general placement of objects had been more carefully considered, this could have been an absolute blast. As it stands, it’s a fairly decent time in short bursts that slides into infuriation a little too often to heartily recommend.