I Like Bike! – Trials 2: Second Edition

By Kieron Gillen on March 27th, 2008 at 7:24 pm.

An illustrative screenshot
Okay, we blogged about it yesterday before we had a chance to actually play it. Now, I have and can only concur with the excited people in the comments threads. This is brilliant, and a perfect example of how a modern approach can rejuvenate even the most venerable of arcade games. But before I talk about that, something about my bladder.

Now, I tend to go and piss a lot. Not a weak-bladder in a leaking urine on my seat kind of way, but in the pub, I wander toilet-wards more often than most. Now, crawling out of bed at about one – I was up until five, as is a freelancer’s wont – I started playing Trials 2 again. Despite consuming the usual endless cups of tea that Jim provides, I don’t leave my seat – or, indeed, my dressing gown – for three hours. At which point I realise I probably should do some work. And get dressed. And eat. And – hey! – probably do something about this sense of fullness in my abdomen. It’s that compulsive.

(As an aside, ignoring of bodily needs is something which characterises genuinely great games for me. Most recently, Armageddon Empires has a similar effect. I live in fear that one day a game’s going to arrive that’s so brilliant that I’ll be trapped, and Jim will wander down in the morning to find me lying dead in my room, body horribly ruptured from gut-pressure.)

Anyway – RedLynx Trials 2: Second Edition scores high in aceosity.

A further illustrative screenshot

It’s – as I said – a neat example of how modern tech and a focused design can do for an old-boy. The basic game has been around since eight-bit days – you as the bike, moving across an obstacle course. Rather than true simulator-style control, the game moves on a single plane. Up and down accelerate and break. Left and right moves your weight forward and back. Bar the reset controls, that’s it. Which is fine, because that’s all it needs. The absolute precision is absolutely the point; when you fuck up, there’s the element of “How on earth did I do that wrong”.

Obvious changes to the formula are the embracing of modern technology – as you can see, it looks great. More relevantly, it lobs in a load of real-time physics, which both elevates the control of your bike and the resulting bone-crashing impacts. Expect your first fifteen minutes to result in the most real-physics-powered laughs since Sumotori Dreams. Alec, over at our place for an RPS-lunch and Munchkin game, ended up playing with it in turns, laughing at each others constant errors. And, really, there’s nothing but constant errors when you play.

(One day someone will actually apply Mortal Kombat’s style gore to something like this, at which point I will shake a designer manfully by the hand)

Which kind of shines a light on one of the pieces of really precise, genuinely brilliant design. The problem with this sort of game is that, inevitably, it’s a game of trial and error. A slight loss of balance, head meets floor and you’re back to the last checkpoint on the course (Actually, in passing, they place Checkpoints particularly well too). Hammer back-space, and you’re instantly back in the world. And the instantly is important – there’s many arcade games which put a delay between the failure and the start. For something like – to choose the first example which comes to mind, even if it’s console one – Stuntman: Ignition, it’s just as trial/restart, but the loading pause breaks the rhythm. Not so here. In tricky bits, that hammering becomes part of your rhythm of play rather than a break of it.

Or, in short, it’s an arcade game. You’re playing it to play it, and anything that stops that reduces it.

(That’s probably too precise reason, but I’m kind of hoping some developer’s reading and will go “Oh yeah!” and remove anything which stops people playing.)

A third illustrative screenshot

Oh, obvious one: The courses are awesome. Some are really basic. Others are ludicrously complicated, with loops, back flips and similar. Hell, there’s even courses where rather than making the levels static, they make it dynamic. So you end up sending things rolling and… oh, here’s a user video to show some of it off.

Actually, the user video leads us to another of its stronger points. That is, how it works with its users. Following on from Audiosurf, this is really reintroducing high-scores to PC gaming, by embracing the whole internet age. Everyone who buys the game has a username. All of the 40 levels has its own leaderboard, logging everyone in the world’s best score (Which is based on time, number of errors, tricks and similar. I think). Which is great, except it goes further. Beside everyone’s score, there’s a link you can press which immediately shows you a replay of their run, with the key-presses visible in the bottom right. This allows you to i) Admire the crazy skills of those ultra-players immediately ii) learn from them, so acting as an ever-expanding tutorial. More so, there’s another button which drops them into your course as a ghost for you to compete against. I stress, this isn’t just the top players. This is everyone in the world. The main problem is that wihle you can form a team, and narrow down the full list to anyone who joins your team, there’s no separate friendslist function. In other words, as far as I can make out, it’s really tricky for people outside the team to play a rivalry. Which is something of a shame.

Bar that, this is awesome. Basically.

(In fact, so awesome that I wonder how its servers are going to hold off when this inevitably takes off more than it has already)

Oh – and there’s unlockable achievements too. Perhaps inevitably, the only ones I have are involving killing and generally mutilating my driver. The poor guy.

A fourth illustrat... OMFG! LOOK AT THAT JUMP!

That’s enough rambling for now. Hopefully this is enough to make you try it, as it’s one of the most infuriating and brilliant arcade games of the year so far. You can download it from here, and then unlock the full version for twenty dollars if it takes your fancy. I’m not sure if it’s in the trial version, but Where’s the Ground is the most obviously spectacular of the Easy-graded courses.

Oh – and I’ve made a RPS team. If you have a username, feel free to join and laugh at my incompetence. The Team name is RPS and the password to get in is also RPS. I’m simple like that.

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66 Comments »

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  1. roberdjp says:

    I still break out Elastomania (nee Action Supercross) every once in a while. This appears to be a suitably “next-gen” replacement.

  2. The_B says:

    But you have to admit, the pees that you have when you’ve been holding it for a while are always the best, aren’t they?

  3. Seniath says:

    I suddenly really need the loo…

    Also, a snippet from RPS chat as I reached the first paragraph of this article:

    Seniath: why is Kieron talking about going for a piss
    The_B: This /is/ Kieron we’re talking about here

  4. nabeel says:

    True story.
    nabeel

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    I somehow knew this would become a thread about urine.

    PLAY THE GAME.

    KG

  6. Schadenfreude says:

    Baldur’s Gate 2 used to remind you to go and eat something during load screens, which was very thoughtful of Bioware IMO.

  7. Bidermaier says:

    I forgot how it was to feel exited for a videogame. This game is going to fill more bottles than WOW.

  8. Zygorator says:

    oooh! it’s possibly coming to steam too,
    from their forums:
    “Good idea. We didn’t even think about Steam. It seems like a perfect distributing channel for PC. I will talk about our management, and see what they think about the idea.”

  9. Kieron Gillen says:

    It so should be on steam. Integrate it with the friends list somehow – be able to go to their latest Ghost level on that track, etc.

    KG

  10. The_B says:

    This game is going to fill more bottles than WOW.

    Or have a room next to the bathroom and use a series of pipes.

    (I am playing this by the way, stop shouting at me! :( )

    – Surely Steamworks is pretty much made for this?

  11. Seniath says:

    Yes, I’m surprised the developers hadn’t already thought of using Steam. As The_B said, online high score tables and achievements just scream Steamworks.

  12. Charles says:

    I’ve been considering using “time gone without peeing” as a quantifiable measure of game addictiveness for some time, as a companion to the old “seconds to crate” measure for creativity.

    Unfortunately, I’ve run into some problems of how to best normalize and measure it (e.g. hours between first noticing the need to actually going vs. simply measuring how badly you need to go once you do), especially across genre barriers, and with games with built in downtime like loading screens.

    Have I thought about this far too much? Yes. I have.

  13. Hobbes says:

    Must be doing a lot of flops to work out all the physics. It got my CPU and GPU up to ‘really quite toasty’ in record time.

  14. Bidermaier says:

    The game has its own in-game archivements. Yeah, archivements are not that fun when they are not integrated into a network.

    The level that Kieron mentions is not in the demo. It is like Line Rider on crack.

  15. Kieron Gillen says:

    The Fiery one on Easy is pretty hardcore too, if that’s in.

    KG

  16. MPK says:

    The RPS team is currently the 131st best Trials 2 team in the wurrald. Go KG!

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    NO MAN CAN BEAT ME.

    KG

  18. ANBA says:

    FightClub can still beat you :P

  19. Zakor says:

    Nice review!

    And I concur, it is an awesome little game.

  20. ANBA says:

    Hello Zakor :)

    btw Gametrailers is also adding Trials videos as we speak:
    http://www.gametrailers.com/platformlist/pc/index.html

  21. Razerious says:

    They would get a lot of extra exposure by being on Steam as well. The game deserves that exposure, to be honest! It’s a lot of fun, even though I suck at it :P

  22. Razerious says:

    Going slightly off topic here; does anyone know of a good site that has indie game news and reviews? There’s a lot of hidden gems out there, and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of them. RPS has acted as my primary source of indie game news lately, but I’m looking for a site that is a bit more narrow in scope (i.e. a site whose sole subject is indie games)

  23. Ging says:

    Razerious: well, you could try indiegames.com which should provide you with some linkage.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Razer: I’d also recommend paying attention to Tigsource (tigsource.com) and Play This Thing (playthisthing.com) for news and reviews respectively.

    KG

  25. QcChopper says:

    Great review of a great game!

    Hi Anba and Zakor :)

  26. Okami says:

    Kieron, this is the second time the sheer and unbriddled enthusiasm of your writing has convinced me to buy a game I’d never even thought of looking at otherwise. (First time was Armageddon Empires)

  27. LoTekK says:

    This looks like a really fun game, and if your two writeups hadn’t sold me on it, the footage of all the painful wipeouts certainly would have. :p

    Too bad it won’t run on an Intel 915. I hate intel GPUs. With a passion. :(

  28. Bidermaier says:

    I have edited and uploaded a video featuring a duel between Mr.T one of the most skilled players and me. :P

    http://www.gametrailers.com/player/usermovies/195251.html

  29. Jeffrey says:

    Hi!
    I installed the game.
    But when I try to play with it, a message is come up on my computer.
    “openAL32″ something.
    What’s the problem?
    Please help me!
    I downloaded the game from bittorrent.

  30. Joe says:

    Haha, great vid Bidermaier! That Mr T surely can motor along.

    If I practise, I’ll soon be at your level! :D (Started playing 2 nites ago, and have been in hysterics every time I crash. Must be delaying my learning curve. Yeah, that’d be it)

  31. Zephyrtron says:

    Ah… But it doesn’t have the batshit announcer going over the top with “That was REAL hard!” or the classic “Monday MONDAY MONDAY!”

  32. Espy says:

    Hmm, I need a new PC. I can’t run this even on the lowest settings. Stalker and TF2 are fine, but this is so slow it’s unplayable :(

  33. Jim Rossignol says:

    Tried new drivers?
    /default

  34. Antti Ilvessuo says:

    Haha. That Monday monday was actually my voice :) maybe we should add Monday on/off to settings. If on you’ll hear “monday monday” shit really loud :D

  35. Zephyrtron says:

    God I love the Monday Monday MOOOOOOOOOOOOONDAYYYY!
    Wasn’t there some kind of strangled yell, too?

  36. Chris Evans says:

    Played the demo and loved it, now I have the full version and will soon be loving that :D

  37. Robert says:

    Oh yeah, bring back the voices! MONDAY NITRO TIME!

    Also, I (as stiggah) dominate RPS group, bwarharhar! The challenge is ON.

  38. Chris Evans says:

    I have joined the group (Evo) and yes I suck…but I will get better :D

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    That we’re a top 20 team already, shows that more people should be playing Trials!

    KG

  40. AndrewC says:

    Thank you for pointing this out. It’s fantastic. Oh, and great blog. And I joined the team, if that’s OK.

  41. Kieron Gillen says:

    All are welcome in Team RPS.

    KG

  42. Steve says:

    I can’t run the game properly either, except that I can run Crysis quite well on high so I really don’t know why. I have the latest drivers, but the graphics are just screwed, totally. All you can see is a mess of color and artifacting. :(

  43. Mark says:

    Top game! Nice find, ta v. much. I’ve added myself to the RPS team – my profile name is Stoatboy.

  44. Cigol says:

    I’ve decided to try my hand at some of the more difficult tracks and I’m getting that psycho murderer red mist descending in front of my eyes. It can be quite painful if you’re trying to be competitive :D

  45. Fat Zombie says:

    So… some sort of shiny update of an incredibly simple internet flash game. Yeah, that sounds passable.

    *downloads demo and starts up*

    *half an hour later*

    WHERE DID THOSE 30 MINUTES GO? THIS IS MOST FUN AGES! MUST BUY

    MUST PROPEL PHYSICS BIKE THROUGH COURSES! AAAAA

  46. Espy says:

    Thanks Jim, new drivers did the trick.

    This is worse than N and Trackmania combined. It brings out incredible moments of masochism. Trying one jump for the 100th time. Argh.

  47. QcChopper says:

    Antti Ilvessuo says:

    “Haha. That Monday monday was actually my voice”

    -ROFL, It should be in Trials2 SE, maybe as an easter egg. Also, there should be something like a vocal interjection when you beat your own time. It should be based on your position: below top 5000 it shouts, “good effort but you still suck, haha” Top 100: “YEEHAW!”, Top 10: “You bastard!” or something like that. Also, on any track, if you achieve a perfect run and you crash after the last checkpoint it should shout something like “aarrgghh!, noooooo, or !@#$%^

  48. Optimaximal says:

    The second this turns up on Steam, i’ll buy it…

  49. Jeffrey says:

    (aISource3i) can’t find in the DLL (OpenAL32.DLL)
    WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PLAY THE GAME??
    PLS HELP ME!!!!

  50. Cigol says:

    Try this; http://www.openal.org/

    Of course you’ll get more help on the official forums than in a comments section of a news blogging website :D