Developer: Tate Multimedia / Publisher: Tate Multimedia / Played On: 3DS / Price: $5.99 / ESRB: Everyone 10+ [Mild Violence]
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Urban Trial Freestyle (3DS) has a love affair with Trial HD (Xbox Live Arcade). Though both are remarkably similar and it is easy to lump them together under the same genre, several subtle differences separate the two games. The 3DS version of Urban Trial Freestyle has some advantages over its PSN brethren, but the fact of the matter remains that Tate Multimedia’s game is living in the shadows of RedLynx’s Trials HD and its sequel.
Urban Trial Freestyle is a physics-based racing game in which you control a dude riding a motorcycle through increasingly challenging puzzles. Getting to the finish line isn’t as simple as accelerating through the level: tons of obstacles litter each stage, causing your bike to go every which way – besides the way you want it. All of the jostling requires you to tilt your rider forward or backward to even out the motorcycle, land safely, and continue through the stage. The stages themselves have you riding through sewer pipes, over buildings, around construction sites, and so forth, all the while popping wheelies and doing back flips. If all of this sounds familiar that’s because it’s quite literally the same concept behind Trial HD and Trials Evolution.
To simply call Urban Trial Freestyle a copy of Trials HD wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Fundamentally the same concept, Urban Trial Freestyle isn’t executed as pristinely as Trials HD. Most of the stages have you doing the same things over and over again with little innovation to distinguish them. One stage has you navigating up a huge incline of wooden 2x4s only to have the next stage make you go up the same incline but made of pipes. The challenge hasn’t changed, just the aesthetics.
There are six zones to play through, with each zone consisting of four levels. On top of that each stage has a time trial mode in which you try to get to the finish line as fast as possible and a stunt mode where you perform stunts at specific locations to gain the most points. Depending on how well you do in each stage you’re awarded one to five stars, with the highest ratings unlocking extra content (which we’ll get to later). Overall the game wraps up very fast, taking only an hour to play through each zone.
Speaking of challenge, I found the degree of difficulty of the game to be quite low. There aren’t any crazy hard jumps to clear or long spells of riding on one wheel, but there are plenty of sections that have you riding uphill at a 45 degree angle. Once you figure out that you can lean forward all the way and progress through these sections seamlessly, you have overcome the biggest challenge the game has to offer. Both Trials games proved that there are dozens of unique situations to get into in a game like this, and it’s sad to see that Urban Trial Freestyle gets so repetitive so quickly.
Scattered throughout each stage are bags of cash that you can collect and use to unlock upgrades for your bike or new duds for your rider. Improving your bike’s wheels for example can increase the speed, acceleration, and control. By installing certain modifiers you can tweak your ride to fit your style: increasing the control by sacrificing the speed, if that suits you best. The customizability here was minimal but effective. There are also three new motorcycles to unlock after meeting certain conditions (like getting four stars on each level in a zone).
The biggest draw to the game on the 3DS is the level editor. Almost every object you come across in the game can be used to create your own custom levels, and the creator tool is simple and easy to use. After playing around with it for a few minutes I had a playable level that didn’t look half bad. Since the main game is over in a flash, the level editor is where the bulk of the replay values comes (sans the online leaderboards for each stage). Sadly, there is no way to share you creations online or even locally. This is a sorely missed opportunity for the game to really shine, as player created levels would have been one of the best additions.
Urban Trial Freestyle isn’t Trials HD, but it can have its moments: when you’re flying through the levels, landing after huge falls, and getting super fast times the game is quite fun. But these sections are few and far between. The biggest fault the game has is not being as good as its inspiration. In every respect the Trials games deliver a better experience than Urban Trial Freestyle. If you have an Xbox 360 I would recommend playing those games instead. But for those of you that only have a 3DS, Urban Trial Freestyle is a fun take on the physics puzzle game.
- Stages are repetitive
+ Level editor is a huge plus for replay value
- Makes you wish you were playing Trials HD/Trials Evolution