Trials Rising (Switch) Review

Extreme Excitebike

Trials Rising is the latest in Ubisoft’s Trials series of motorbike games. One might assume this title is strictly about racing and stunts, but Trials Rising features additional depth with its dynamic obstacle course tracks, transforming it into a puzzle platformer. The challenge lies not just in placing first but also surviving. It’s essentially extreme Excitebike.

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

In each of the game’s 100+ tracks, the goal is to take your motorbike to the finish line in the fastest possible time. What makes the gameplay special is its focus on physics. Leaning to shift weight, adjusting speed to achieve proper momentum, and controlling well-timed jumps are all factors for success.

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Not your average motorbike track.

Consequently, the game’s difficulty curve is as steep as its slopes. A first-time rider will likely struggle handling the bike’s sensitive movements. It’s easy to lose control and flip over. Even if you spend extensive time learning advanced techniques that are mandatory to succeed, it’s still tough to execute them, especially in a heated race. Frequent checkpoints help, but I often spent several minutes just trying to get past a single obstacle. It’s a rewarding challenge but not necessarily one that everyone can appreciate. Expect to fail often. On the plus side, mistakes only result in a five-second penalty, plus it’s hilarious to watch your rider crash and burn, complete with loud wails, exaggerated flailing, and explosive deaths. It’s clear the developers are in on it too, as every race ends with your character whizzing past the finish line to their doom.

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I’d love if Donkey Kong were up there throwing those barrels.

Every track is a death-defying obstacle course. More so than racing to the finish line, I had a blast trying to solve how to maneuver through each section. Trials Rising is like a 2.5D puzzle platformer. Instead of block puzzles and enemies, there are tricky traps and jumps, all while racing against the clock. The tracks are well designed from both gameplay and aesthetic perspectives, inspired by real world locations incorporating cultural landmarks. Many of them are super engaging, thanks to dynamic elements such as moving logs, windmills, and swinging platforms. One of the most creative is a stage based on shifting Hollywood movie sets.

In Trials Rising, you progress through various continental leagues. To win a league, you must place first in the corresponding finals. However, each finals is gated off based on your player level. You gain levels by playing new tracks or completing sponsor challenges, which require you to fulfill specific conditions, such as performing a certain number of flips or minimizing mistakes. Early on, this is a quick and enjoyable process. However, as the level requirement and track difficulty increase, the game grinds to a halt. It’s an arbitrary wall that kept me from experiencing new stages unless I played through the same courses repeatedly, attempting extraordinarily difficult tasks. At least you can gain some extra experience through absurdly funny minigame diversions, such as bomb-propelled long jump and motorbike basketball.

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Don’t try this at home. Or wherever this is taking place.

You can also level up by competing against others online, which I was able to try out through the open beta. You race up to seven other players through a set of three tracks. I experienced no issues with matchmaking or server lag, but mileage may vary. Since you only see ghost images of your competitors superimposed on the same track, it’s not as satisfying as directly interacting with other players, but it’s entertaining to witness everyone crash at the same spot. It’s worth noting that there are online leaderboards, both for multiplayer during seasonal divisions, and also for the solo campaign to show off your best times.

Local multiplayer has its share of fun moments. Up to four players can race together on select stadium-style courses in party mode. As a nice touch, you can set modifiers, such as invisible riders or flaming bikes. Even more compelling was the co-op mode, where two players ride together on a tandem bike, a bicycle built for two. Both players exert some control over the bike and have to coordinate their rider physics. As you might expect, this mode led to some spectacular death sequences that kept my partner and me in tears laughing.

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Not pictured: E.T.

The tandem bike is one of six usable motorcycles, each with their own unique characteristics. You unlock some by leveling up and others by spending in-game currency. On that note, you can also use the coins earned through racing to buy a multitude of cosmetic items used to customize your bike and avatar, which are cool to see online. Alternatively, you can open up gear crates for a random set of rewards. Again, they’re all cosmetic items, so I wasn’t too offended. That being said, I rarely got excited over my gear crates’ contents; I tended to get duplicates or decorative stickers. You can also use real money to purchase Acorns, an additional in-game currency for buying gear. Or you can earn Acorns the fun way: finding squirrel trophy collectibles cleverly hidden on the tracks.

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Multiplayer is at the heart of Trials Rising.

Last but not least is a track editor. You can create your own courses using a large collection of assets, some from previous Trials titles, then share them online. I personally found it difficult to manage the editor, with its confusing camera and object placement controls. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting prospect to have this creative freedom, provided you have the patience. A mode like this is dependent entirely on the fanbase, and I hope to see it flourish.

Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch edition of Trials Rising has a weaker presentation than other versions. The track backgrounds aren’t as detailed, and some areas have a distracting fog that engulfs everything. I didn’t mind the visuals, but I took issue with the occasional framerate slowdown. I was even more frustrated by the frequent game crashes, which occurred at least ten times. The controls aren’t ideal either, as the Switch controllers lack analog triggers. Thus, the only way to manually control the engine throttle for precise movement is to awkwardly tilt the right analog stick or plug in a GameCube controller – which relies on you having the Super Smash Bros. controller adapter.

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Reach for the skies!

Conclusion

Trials Rising is an enjoyable blend of adrenaline motorbike racing and physics-based puzzle platforming. Although leveling up is a grind, there is plenty of content with numerous tracks to complete, challenges to achieve, and items to collect. This is in addition to online multiplayer and custom-made tracks that indefinitely increase replay value. The Switch version’s shortcomings limit its potential, but the ability to play quick tracks on the go may be enough incentive for new racers to take on the game’s trials.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was posted on DarkStation.

What do you think of Trials Rising? Have you played other games in the Trials series, and if so, which one is your favorite? What are your favorite motorbike or racing games? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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9 thoughts on “Trials Rising (Switch) Review

  1. Awesome review! Just as spectacular as the over-the-top death sequences! Having never played the Trials series before, this game is not what I expected when I first saw it. I thought it would just be a motorcycle race, but getting through the obstacles is actually pretty challenging. It’s tricky to get used to the physics and you spend so much time flailing in the air. Honestly, the best part is watching the epic crashes. I think co-op mode is a very fun idea. Sorry (but not sorry) for all the crashes! I also thought the level design and themes were very creative. Great job on your video! Let’s rev it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Your wonderful support and encouragement truly means a lot to me! 😀 Trials Rising was a nice surprise for me as I had never experienced the Trials series before either. But I like it. I got really into each track and all of the physics-based puzzle platforming challenges. It’s hilarious to crash, and the tandem bike co-op multiplayer mode is genius. I can’t get through that mode without laughing! 😛 I hope to play a bunch more online and see some fun creations in the track editor mode. Maybe I need to make a track based on Yu-Gi-Oh! so we can play card games on motorcycles! Let’s rev it up! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really ingenious game, that I could also see making me pull my hair out. The level design is really creative though, and it makes me somewhat nostalgic for when Tony Hawk Pro Skater was a big thing. I feel with some tweaks this could be as beloved as that was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like Tony Hawk Pro Skater was on another level, and I still can’t believe how popular that series was. I enjoyed those games myself as well, even though I was no good at performing swag skate tricks haha. I think Trials Rising is insanely creative for a motorbike game, and I really felt like I was playing a sidescroller, just with bikes instead of like Mario. The track editor is basically Super Mario Maker meets extreme Excitebike! We just need Tony Hawk (or Dave Mirra) on these bikes, and it will be complete.

      Like

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