Trials Of The Blood Dragon (2014)

This game could have been so much more. I LOVED the trials games, starting with Trials HD on 360, the return of an excitebike type of game with a newer coat of paint, it exhilarated me. I couldn’t be happier, a few years later when Trials Gold came out and had the new game bundled with the older HD game on PC was a joy! Then came Trials fusion, the introduction of the trick system wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, but it was still fun enough and had the main gameplay of Trials behind it. When the DLC was introduced, it started to walk the fine line of “Let’s throw internet memes into our game, that’s fun right?”... it was not. But again, that was able to be skipped. Flash Forward to E3 2016 Ubisoft press event. I was overjoyed at the prospect of a Trials game mixed with the fun and weirdness of the retro throwback of Blood Dragon. The 80’s action movie themes with the dirt bike craziness of Trials seemed to be a match made in heaven, like Chocolate and Peanut Butter. But alas, the dream quickly died as I started to realize that the Rex Power Colt that I grew to love was dead and in his place were a pair of his kids, two annoying kids who tried to live up to their dad’s shadow but could never escape it.

This game had the makings of a game of the year contender, a “wait, one more thing” announcement and a instant release made it an almost buy. A small price tag of $15. A Blood Dragon Sequel Storyline, and a Trials game all in one. Or so I thought.

The game starts off with Rex providing VO and you are in control of his son. You ride your bike through a jungle that has no difficulty whatsoever. The game proceeds like this with very few parts of actually difficulty or skill, and most of the restarts are a result of bad game design and cheap, unavoidable physics based puzzles-gone-wrong deaths. The real reason why this game isn’t as good as it’s predecessors is more the fact that it what is new, most of it is bad. The game isn’t just controlling a character on a bike, the game is split into sections, the son usually takes the bike missions, and the girl usually does on foot missions…. That’s right, ON FOOT missions… in a Trials game! So for about half of the game, you are forced off your bike and forced to use a floaty Little Big Planet-esq character weight control to navigate puzzles and the introduction of shooting with the right stick does not help at all.

The only real joy I got out of this game is the 80’s aesthetic and the continuation of the Blood Dragon story. The VO for the game isn’t that bad, but most of it isn’t good, and some of the level design isn’t my cup of tea. The absolute worst part is the space missions. Now I’m all for a good space mission in my 80’s inspired action game, but the controls of using a jetpack are atrocious. Nothing about it feels good or fun. I can complete the bike levels with zero to three faults most of the time, but the first level of the jetpack required about 10 minutes and about 50+ retries. It’s just poorly designed and the physics of the hanging ball just causes problems from the get go and never becomes remotely fun. I was enjoying the game well enough until that point, but the hard turn in story and gameplay mechanics instantly made me hate what I was doing and had a very hard time re-finding the joy in the gameplay.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, the coolest part of the game, which is barely used in the main story comes from the new RC vehicle that your control, the “Flip Back”. Think late 80/s remote controlled toy commercials, You know what this thing is, you’ve seen it before. It was the thin car like frame with the larger than body wheels. This thing could do jumps and flips and no matter what way it landed, it could always keep going. They brought this into the game and you have a blast with it… for about 30 seconds at a time for about 3 or 4 times in the entire story. The absolute best part of this game comes from the two bonus missions, where they take a page of of the game of Action Henk and recreate the Hot Wheels(™) toy tracks in a kids bedroom and you drive around this recreation of a kids room jumping and flipping… man if they took this idea and ran with it throughout the game, I feel that it would have been received much better and wouldn’t have done so poorly. As it stand right now, Trials of the Blood Dragon isn’t that great of a game, I saw it on sale for $3 about a month after release and I did get my money’s worth. Play it if you like the Blood Dragon franchise or if you like Trials and have nothing else better to do and it’s cheap enough. But if you LOVE trials and pay full price for this game, I am pretty sure you will be pretty disappointed.