Format: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release date: 2000 – present day
The Trials franchise is surely the most successful game to ever start out life as a Flash browser game. I remember playing the original game on Miniclip back in the day, and I have played every single iteration since. The game’s core concept is simple – you control a trials bike, and must navigate it across a series of increasingly difficult obstacle courses on a 2D pane. It’s the perfect pick-up-and-play game, because it’s easy to get the basics, but insanely difficult to master.
The series peaked when the game exploded onto the Xbox Live Arcade, first with Trials HD, then Trials Evolution, my personal favourite of them all. Evolution introduced 4-player competitive modes, an excellent level editor and an online marketplace to download and share custom maps. It all worked seamlessly. Itbecame a favourite at the flat in Baldock, where my friends and I wiled away hours, taking turns to complete levels and strive to hoover up as many gold medals as we could. It usually fell to me to get the best scores, as for whatever reason I had spent the longest time playing it and seemed to have a knack for it that my friends didn’t. But I’m no match for some of the online masters. I couldn’t really finish any of the Extreme levels. My favourites are always in the ‘medium’ section. Big swooping ramps and giant leaps that flow smoothly into each other.
My friends created me a level, using the built in editor, to test my skill. I remember it fondly because they had spent an entire weekend building it. It started out with an infuriating bit Robbie nicknamed “Ride the Bomb”, because you spawned directly on top of a falling bomb and had to quickly accelerate and lean in the right way to flick the bomb away from you. Had we ever uploaded that map to the marketplace, people would have downvoted it instantly, because you would die at least 10 times before you figured out the method. But I loved that map, because my mates made it for me.
Also, Trials is one of the few games that I’ve enjoyed playing with my brother, Sam. He doesn’t play games but he is very much into extreme sports and whatnot, so he appreciated Trials, mostly coz of the accurate, if still ‘gamey’ physics. He was a natural at the game, thanks to his real-life understanding of bike physics, and it was fun for me to see him pick it up very quickly.