New Game Review

Review – Urban Trial Playground (Switch)

Not so gnarly, duuuude!

I am a big fan of the Trials games. The mix of interesting levels, challenge and, of course, the physics system makes it a lot of fun. Nintendo Switch unfortunately has yet to receive any ports of Trials, but they have their own answer with Urban Trial Playground. Unfortunately, it doesn’t reach the standards of the Trials series and feels more like a mobile phone version of the great game.

Urban Trial Playground is a physics based stunt bike game that features 26 levels set on the beaches of sunny California. You’ll be stringing together back and front flips, wheelies and stoppies, and long and high jumps. The single player brings you through the 26 levels a couple times in the form of a time trial and score attack. The score attack is my favorite mode because it actually encourages you to do the tricks and string together combos.

Urban Trials Playground
Ready. Set. Go!

Each level has a rank of 5 stars depending on how well you score or how fast you complete the level in the time trials. Within each level there are poker chips with various values to collect that you can use on upgrades or clothing for your rider. Score attack missions also have 3 bonuses you can unlock to earn more money. For example, not crashing will net you 100 or you may have to pull off 4 back flips or string together combos to earn the extra cash.

As you progress through the story you will unlock more bikes that are marginally better, but the big upgrades come from purchases. Once you get enough money you can start upgrading your bike and add more power, agility, and braking ability. The unlocks come a little too soon, however. You’ll have the best bike with all upgrades by mid game even if you aren’t collecting all the bonus money from the score attack levels. So that essentially just leaves your money for cosmetic items for the bike and your character.

The gameplay is simple enough, but the way the tutorial was starting out I thought there were going to be more hazards in the levels or at least later on when it should get harder. The tutorial teaches you how to duck under object and bunny hop over others that will have you tumbling over your handlebars. The problem is the ducking hazard is used only once and the low hazard is never used. The levels don’t even get any harder either. Another issue that’s present from the beginning are the physics. It just doesn’t feel natural and when you go off a jump your momentum slows down too much in the air, giving a resistance effect.

Backflip
These high back flips really show off that great background

The graphics are in need of some work. At times it can look okay with its bright and bold color palette and it can look okay when you’re going fast. But once you start looking at the environments and especially the background it tells a different story. For some reason they decided to use a very heavy blur effect for any of the further background areas, which is jarring. Also the aliasing is incredibly bad. The sound design works with it’s more laid back beach soundtrack and the various motorcycle sound effects are well done.

Urban Trial Playground isn’t much of an answer to the Trial series as it is just a not on par version. I was hoping it would try and set itself apart from Trials by offering obstacles within the levels and perhaps adding in an actual trick system. Not only is there not enough to keep you engaged for long (I finished the game in one day), but I also had 2 dashboard crashes. There’s local multiplayer by splitting up the joycons, but even a partner can’t add the polish and fun that could have kept this game intriguing.

Graphics: 4.5

The color palette is nice and bold, but everything else is lacking. The extremely blurred out background is jarring.

Gameplay: 5.0

The gameplay is reminiscent of the Trials series. However, it lacks the polish and intricacies that make Trials addicting.

Sound: 7.5

The sound design is decent with an interesting surfer vibe to it. The various motorcycle sound effects are well done.

Fun Factor: 5.0

There are 26 maps that all feel too similar and the campaign just takes you through each level as a time or score trial. The levels never get difficult and I had 2 dashboard crashes.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Urban Trials Playground is available now on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Urban Trials Playground was provided by the publisher.

Our resident Californian ginger, also one of the only ones on the team who has a family (aka life). When he’s not taking care of sick kids he’s playing games with a wife who’s just as much a gamer as him or actually reviewing them for us, making him a valuable member of the team. Even if he’s pretty much stolen all our souls. His favorites include Dark Souls, Fallout 2, Majora’s Mask, and Shadow of the Colossus.

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