10 years ago? Surely not. We’re talking about the year when President Obama was first inaugurated and Michael Jackson passed away. Feel old yet? It’s particularly scary as that was the year I started University, and my housemate introduced me to a cracking little game by the name Trials HD. We ploughed hours into chasing personal bests, climbing online leaderboards and had a great laugh in the process. That is the beauty of this game, as the addictive and entertaining gameplay is perfectly balanced by its slapstick charm.
Roll back a few years earlier to when I was in secondary school, and flash games were at the height of their popularity. The race was on before an I.T. lesson to grab a computer in the corner, so the teacher couldn’t see you playing “Penguin Smash” whilst trying to teach how to design web pages in Microsoft Word. The beauty of flash games is they can be played on any internet browser and the best are simple but addictive.
Believe it or not, this is where we can trace the origins of the Trials series back to. From humble beginnings came the fully blown sequel, Trials HD, which marked the start of the franchise’s launch into mainstream console gaming and it was an Xbox exclusive to boot. You can still go online and play the flash game Trials 2 today. I would strongly recommend it to get a good idea of how far the games have come. That is not to take anything away from the original however, which is well made and surprisingly deep for a humble flash game.
Trials HD is presented in 2.5D, which means the game runs 3D graphics on a 2D plane. Your objective is to complete each course as quickly as possible, whilst avoiding all sorts of crazy obstacles. Just to make things more challenging, you control the bike and rider by effectively rotating them to ensure you land jumps successfully. If you fail, you’ll crash in spectacular fashion, and your rider will be all limbs as they flail around helplessly thanks to the ragdoll physics. It’s hilarious, even though it will make you wince every single time you crash.
The original release had 35 courses to master, which ranged from beginner to extreme. In fact, completing some of the later courses whilst avoiding making mistakes could feel as difficult as trying to nail jelly to a wall. Still, Trials HD is bags of fun. There were also skill games which basically acted as challenges that allowed you to flaunt your moves in some ridiculous ways. Go and check it out, you’ll struggle to have more fun with any other game.
In addition, there was also an in-depth level editor which allowed players to share their creations with each other, just in case the existing courses weren’t challenging enough. Given this game was released in 2009, a massive ten years ago, this mode had impressive depth and it was easy to share courses with the online community – something which is taken for granted with today’s games.
Trials HD was released as part of Xbox’s second “Summer of Arcade” event and it’s safe to say, it was a hit. It received positive praise from critics and players alike and by Christmas of that year new DLC was released containing new courses for players to enjoy.
It’s also worth mentioning that Trials HD has spawned three sequels to date. Trials Evolution was released in 2012, Trials Fusion in 2014 and most recently Trials Rising earlier this year. The games consistently attract favourable reviews and still have a dedicated fanbase and thriving online community.
Despite some minor frustrations, Trials HD is immense fun to dip into, or allowing you to lose a whole evening playing. You could pick up one of the newer releases, but if you want to see where it all began on the Xbox this is the place to start. Just remember to feel sorry for the poor fella as you crash, flip and laugh yourself silly though what is still one of the most entertaining experiences on the Xbox today.