XBLA Essentials – ‘Trials: Evolution’
It’s hard to say what makes a downloadable game a must own. I tried to make that case for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, but although it was pretty good, I’m not sure you could call that game an absolute must have; there was a good amount of game, but not so much that the price of admission didn’t raise an eyebrow, and in the end, the longevity of the experience was a little lacking, despite Lantern Run being unexpectedly fun.
It turns out though that that “longevity” is possibly the best indicator of a great downloadable. Not that all of them need to have amazing lifespans, but it helps when a game can continue to bring new content to you for way, waaaay longer than you expect.
And beyond the fun campaign and the insane Stage Editor, an epic lifespan is definitely what makes Red Lynx’s Trials: Evolution stand out as a definite must have for any 360 owner (unless of course you really, really hate motor cross).
To rewind a bit here, allow me to go on and on about each of the aspects that makes Trials: Evo really, really awesome.
What It Does Right
It’s Excitebike, Dude. EXCITEBIKE - Okay. This is a weird place to start but it’s all to make a point; I have to explain first that I was not at all attracted to the idea of a motor cross game before I bought Trials: Evo. There’s seriously just nothing attractive to me about almost all sports, so I pass of all sports games before I even know they exist.
If you’re anything like me, you feel the same exact way. But if you’re exactly like me, there are two exceptions to that rule: Super Tecmo Bowl and Excitebike, both for the NES. If you’re exactly like me, that would also mean that you’ve wondered on occasion, “Where the hell is Excite Bike 2 already?” And I know—it had follow ups. But really, Excitebike 64 and Excite Truck? Those don’t count, dude. Those took the incredibly addicting 2D racing action that was somehow totally a thing and stripped it away, making its follow ups just like any other 3D racing game and taking the total spirit and personality out of the franchise. Sure, Excitebike: World Rally did the franchise right, but… (and bare with me here) not as right as Trials does.
Because Trials: Evo seems like it was made by a team hell bent on making the Trials franchise the spiritual successor of Excitebike. Rather than making something that paid the original homage (which is essentially all Nintendo lazily did with World Rally), Red Lynx took the fun and addiction of the Excitebike, and gave it a truly epic tune up, from the simple fun of controlling the bike and doing awesome (if very simple) stunts off of ramps with a simple, rail-locked control scheme. In the end, from the side scrolling view to the semi-serious, semi-realistic approach to motor cross, Trials is the sequel that Nintendo could never, ever give us, down to the awesome stage editor.
To say it simply, even if you don’t care about sports at all, there’s a genuinely good time waiting for you with Trials: Evolution, particularly if you have found memories of yet another franchise Nintendo dropped by the wayside. Because Trials is an experience that doesn’t take itself too seriously until it comes to making sure you’re having fun.
The Stage Editor of Kings - Seriously, the aforementioned Stage Editor is absolutely ridiculous, btw. As a huge fan of stage editors, I can say that I’ve honestly never encountered one as insane as that of Evolution. Generally, when you think of something like an Editor, you think of a very simple system with set environments that you can add to to make a play area of your own for a small set of game types (possibly).
You don’t think of an editor where you can delete everything the programmers put in, leaving you with a huge, empty landscape, if you want one. You don’t think of an editor where you can change the color of the sun and sky or put effects that are triggered by (among almost too many other options) the buttons the player is pressing at a certain point. You don’t think of an editor that allows you to program animation into inanimate objects, remove all physics from certain objects, change the density of other objects or let you make other game modes that have absolutely nothing to do with riding a motorcycle.
Basically, you don’t think of this:
Seriously, Evo’s Pro Editor is a high quality game developing kit that’s slapped inside of a $15 downloadable game and it absolutely blows my mind.
All I can say is, seriously, I played a first person horror adventure. Seriously.
Even If You’re Not Into Stage Editing, Everyone Else Is - So maybe you’re immediately intimidated and don’t want to spend any time making your own stage. That’s cool, because everyone else is already making stages. Know what that means?
The only complaint I would’ve had about Trials: Evo was the issue I started this article with; at first play, it feels like a short game. But, even before you finish it, you can load up “Track Central” and download a second campaign’s worth of awesome stages and skill games. Download them, I might add, with extreme ease and gross speed, taking away any reason why Track Central wouldn’t be a terrible, terrible addiction.
Consider then that these stages can be played and replayed quickly—that they won’t demand the time of many other modern games.
Consider next that Track Central will likely keep being updated for a very, very long time.
And hear lastly that I played a stage based on Castlevania yesterday, complete with you driving through the woods and jumping the castle gate, Symphony of the Night-style. I also drove through a NASA space station and got transported to an asteroid in space. I’ve now driven through the gates of Heaven, by the way, and I’ve defeated Doctor Robotnik with a motorcycle. And… Okay, just watch this:
And suddenly, it becomes clear that there honestly isn’t a good reason why you shouldn’t own this game. Seriously, you own a 360, so it’s a given that you like fun, right? Cause hating fun would be the only reason.
The Final Word
If you really hate motor cross or motorcycles, then maybe you should stay away—like, if you really despise them. Otherwise, I just honestly couldn’t give you a solid “What It Did Wrong” section. In all honesty, for the care given to the Stage Editor (down to Red Lynx’s own tutorial videos as seen above [there are thirty-two of those, btw]), it’s one of the rare times when the price of admission feels like a cheat on your end; I look back now at the extra $45 I didn’t pay for Trials: Evolution and I frown and slowly offer it to Red Lynx muttering, “You… you sure? I mean… I… I don’t think it’s right that I only… I mean, $15 only?”
Player-Made Tracks to Check Out When (If) You Do Get Trials: Evolution
“Atlantis” by HanfRay
“Castlevania” by akaishism
“Chain of Fools” by TheJesus
“End of the World” by Kojax128
“H4-NASA” by Dupree360
“Haunted Prison” by BilldozingBubby
“Heaven” by InF1ictor
“HIGHWAY 2 ADVENTURE” by Malcolm Reynold
“Silhouette Redux” by Split Jugular
“Spark Plug” by A Web Designer
“Trials Invaders” by i am swifteh
“warning !!!” by nytho