Tag Archives: Trials Evolution

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Monster Jam: Battlegrounds

Monster Jam: Battlegrounds is a bad game. I thought I’d just put that up front here in this new feature for Grinding Down where I finally start taking a look at the many, many PlayStation Plus titles I have installed on my PlayStation 3. Why? Well, the service is not what it once was in terms of the games you get (at least for the console I’m still on), and I’m looking to ultimately cancel it down the road. Unlike Microsoft’s Games with Gold program, you don’t get to keep the titles from Sony, so I should try some of them out before I cut ties and these disappear for good.

Let’s get to it. Monster Jam: Battlegrounds is Trials, but instead of motorbikes you use monster trucks to get the job done. The job is usually going from the left side of the screen to the right side. Actually, that comparison is completely unfair to the Trials franchise, which is noteworthy for its physic-based controls and steep challenge, but high level of polish. Also, completing a tough jump in Trials Evolution felt do-able and was really rewarding; here, you are fighting at every twist and turn to keep these monster trucks upright, almost as if they are hollow inside. Ugh.

There are three modes: Skill Driving, Stadium Events, and Stunt. Each is less exciting than the previous one. Skill Driving has you trying to reach certain areas by maintaining momentum and not toppling over. Stadium is a ridiculous scenario where you drive in a circle two or three times and beat an opponent doing the same thing, and to call this a “race” is an insult to the very definition of the word. Stunt wants you to use your boost power effectively and see how far you can make a monster truck fly through the air. These are all straightforward and over quickly, which makes the long load times to get to them and unresponsive controls all the more frustrating.

So, in the end, not a keeper. The physics are appalling, the challenge and graphic designs are lackluster, the audio is a mess, cutting in and out and culminating into one large crunch of static, crowd cheers, and cheesy rock music, and it takes forever to play, which, for a game I don’t want to play all that much, makes the decision to uninstall pretty easy. Didn’t even need to boost.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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It is only through Motocross Madness that the soul is revealed

motocross madness early impressions

Trials Evolution is a game I both love and hate, one with extremely hard swings, where one minute I’m leaping off a ramp high in the sky across a gorgeous vista and doing sick backflips and the next grumbling curse word after curse word as I try to get up an extremely steep hill and hit the next checkpoint. It’s really been my only toe-dip into the videogaming world of dirt bike racing–I guess since Excitebike–and its focus on hyper sensitive controls really means that only the driven and dedicated will continue on. Alas, I have not; think the last time I touched it was last fall, and even then it was only for goofing around in the user-created levels, which are, nine times out of nine, absolutely bonkers.

Well, I got the itch to gas a bike up a steep ramp and do silly tricks, and so I turned to Motocross Madness. No, no, not that Motocross Madness, the one from 1998. This is Microsoft’s Avatar-spearheaded take on arcade style and open sandbox motorbiking, and it was given out for free this month to Gold accounts, along with Dishonored, which I continue to be terrible at. More on that somewhere down the line…

To be honest, I’m enjoying Motocross Madness. A lot. While there may not be a ton of variety in the courses, there’s certainly variety to the things you can do in them. First, you can partake in a standard race via Career mode, aiming for that first place gold medal each time. Rivals mode has you competing against developer avatar ghosts. There’s a Trick mode that tests your aerial button-pressing skills and rewards you with new trick combos. Lastly, and probably my favorite part of Motocross Madness, is Exploration mode, which lets you hop off the track’s main path and explore every corner of the environment for gold coins and collectibles, all at your own leisurely pace. The courses are spread across three differently themed worlds, though I’ve only gotten to bike around Egypt and Australia for now; Iceland is still to come.

Unlike Trials Evolution, the racing here is much looser and more forgiving, meaning you can spill a few times and still stay in the lead or, with enough time, catch back up with everybody. I appreciate this greatly. If that’s not the case, then you probably need to lightly grind for some more coins and upgrade your bike a bit, which is easily done via Exploration mode or playing an older race again. The physics are not entirely arcade-ish, as landing after a jump or trick does require you to maintain some balance or skid out, and you eventually are able to ride behind another biker and coast within their wake, which is silly fun.

Much like with Doritos Crash Course 2 and, maybe, World Series of Poker: Full House Pro, seeing your Avatar in action is a blast. It’s a shame that the game encourages you to cover up my silly, bearded face with riding helmets, but sometimes you need to do that to look super stylish. While the outfits are cosmetics, you can make stat changes to your bike, purchasing new engine parts, tires, and brakes, and you will occasionally need to up a bike to perform better in a higher-tiered race. The cartoony graphics all around work well, though there’s some strange pop-in after each race is finished, when your Avatar hops of his or her bike and greets the crowd of cheering fans.

For another monthly freebie, Motocross Madness is a great addition to anyone’s digital collection on the Xbox 360. Perhaps a bit small in scope, but still brimming with things to do. You can also race competitively online though, if y’all know me like I hope y’all would know me by now, I’ve made no attempts to try this as of yet. Personally, I end up spending most of my time in Exploration mode, staring at coins and skulls in the sky and trying to figure how best to get ’em. It’s certainly more enjoyable than hitting restart every few seconds on a tough-as-nails track in Trials Evolution.

Joe Danger 2, a colorful crash course in prodigious puns

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To my honest surprise, I enjoyed Trials Evolution despite having no appreciation or interest in all things motorcycle riders traversing over obstacles. In my youth, I did do some light biking with friends, but it was mostly bunny hops over curbs or riding on the back pegs for a period of time. Nothing crazy or life-threatening. I could also ride handless down a hill, but those skills have certainly vanished since that lifetime. If Trials Evolution is all broken necks and flailing limbs, then Joe Danger 2: The Movie is bouncy castles and winky faces. That’s not a bad thing.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie was recently given out to PlayStation Plus subscribers for free, and so I immediately downloaded and then forgot about it. No time, people. I have no time for racing platformers. Well, maybe I do, considering this write-up. Anyways, the plot, which should really just be called “its reason for existence,” is as follows: Joe has gained favor with a movie director in Hollywood and has been hired to perform all the stunts on set. The movie consists entirely of cliché action stunts, such as chase scenes on mini carts, skis, and police bikes, and obstacle courses with jetpacks and tricycles and other crazy things. And so you go through a number of movie scenarios, each with their own specific missions, trying to earn stars and complete tasks to move on to the next theatrical adventure. Pretty straightforward stuff.

For some reason, I was not expecting puns. At least not this many. Joe Danger 2: The Movie is crazy in love with puns, as they should be. As we all should be.  Here’s a sampling of some movie level names: Lord of the Springs, Gulp Fiction, Das Boost, Temple of Boom, Dr. Snow, A View to Chill, Coldfinger, Doom Raider, Indiana Bones, and so on. I love them. I genuinely do, and for me, they help transform a rather by-the-books racing platforming game–collect items like stars/bananas/the letters to spell DANGER, do specific tasks like 100% combos, finish the level, and move on–into something quite endearing.

Getting through the levels is rather easy. In truth, I could blow through this game in one or two sittings, but I’m instead taking my time and trying to complete some of the side missions within each level. This is where the game can become a bit more like Trials Evolution, close to the point of frustrating. Physics and time limits and hidden paths/items are all constraints that make finishing a level and doing other stuff a struggle. Thankfully, the puns, colorful commentary from the director, and bright look to the game keep things from becoming too dark.

The next movie level Joe Danger must perform in is called Eggstinction, set in prehistoric times. I fully expect to drown in dinosaur-based puns.

Achievements of the Week – The Professional Third and 30 Kill Screen Edition

I missed out on doing Achievements of the Week last week as I was away on business. Actually, I was in New York City to sell comics with my wife and friends at MoCCA Festival 2012, which is technically a business venture of our own, one intermingled with pleasure as comics sure are dang fun. It just always sounds so much more professional to say “on business” versus “selling comic books,” and I strive to come across professional, day in, day out. Hmm…okay, that’s not true. I just wanted some harmony to exist between these words I type and an Achievement I unlocked in Trials Evolution, which you’ll see in a sec. The things I do for syncrisis…

So, this is another grab at playing catch up. Four games get covered, with two of them limelighting the Achievements you get for completing the games. Mmm. I really do like completing games. It’s a good goal to currently have as I have a huge backlog of stuff unfinished or even untouched and not a lot of exciting titles coming out in the near future. Yeah, I’m not counting Game of Thrones: The Game as exciting. But that sense of satisfaction and seeing something all the way through is rewarding on its own.

Right, let’s go.

From Fez…


Warp zone (15G): Like folding a sheet of paper.


Kill screen (25G): Visited the Visitors.

Yeah, I beat the game. I saw its ending. I sat there confused and smiled at a certain part. I started New Game+. I still don’t really understand everything though I do think about cubes and shapes and what they ultimately mean in life a lot more these days.

From Trials Evolution…


The Professional (30G): Successfully complete the single player career.


Extreme Prejudice (20G): Complete any Extreme track.

Don’t ask me how I got this. Honestly, I don’t remember. I must have completed one of the extreme tracks in a wild fever, eyes unblinking, hands moving with speed and skill, the track falling apart as I vroom vroomed forward, a monster making its way to victory.

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…


Hero of Skyrim (30G): Capture Solitude or Windhelm

The realm is nearly all mine. Also, I talked about the Achievement for obtaining 100,000 gold over here.

From Saints Row: The Third…


Third and 30 (40G): Played SR3 for 30+ hours, why stop now!?

Got this during my lunchbreak today. More specifically, I got this after I left the game on in the background and went and did the dishes and drank some iced tea. Talk about skills.

So, how have the last two weeks been for you and your ol’ Xbox 360? Tell me about an Achievement you’ve gotten recently. If not, I might not get out bed tomorrow from lack of love–and yeah, that’d be your fault. So, please, be kind. Share with the world your victories. I’ve already done my part.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #12 – Trials Evolution

Lean, fall, break your neck
There are no checkpoints in life
Can’t press B today

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

The chase is on in Super Mario 3D Land

In the beginning of my Nintendo 3DS days, I kept the thing on and in my pocket as much as possible, both to earn as many Play Coins as possible and in hopes of connecting with another person’s system. That dedication eventually waned, but every now and then–like when Tara and I head out to the mall area or go grocery shopping–I remember to flip it on and bring it with me. I mean, a year and change later, the chances of StreetPassing someone else is at least a smidgen greater. And with luck, I have connected with a few people in Target and Weis and the surrounding area, and a few of them have been kind enough to give me Question Mark levels in Super Mario 3D Land. That’s-a-nice.

The problem though is that I haven’t played any more Super Mario 3D Land since I beat it, as I needed a break from 3D platforming and wasn’t ready to tackle yet another eight worlds full of coins, flying Goombas, and tricky jumps. The cartridge has since been in my travel case while I whittle away at Professor Layton’s London Life. But I noticed the other day that I had two out of an allotted three Question Mark levels and wanted to clear out my backlog in preparation for MoCCA Festival this weekend. So I popped the cartridge back in, completed the two bonus levels super fast–winning both coins, of course–and decided to see what some of the Special World levels were like.

Special World 1-1 is par for the course, but does introduce the silver-colored Tanooki Suit, which finally allows the player to turn into a statue. Not that I ever really do, but I think I need the ability to hit certain triggers so I’ll keep an eye out. But it’s Special World 1-2 that gets this blog post’s glory. In it, Mario is chased all the way to the flagpole by a Cosmic Clone. And when I say chased, I mean chased. This isn’t no Boo slowly trailing after you; it’s a hot-blooded pursuit, and it’s pretty much the most tense Mario level ever. The crazy remixed Mario tunes don’t help either, and I totally missed all three stars as my only goal was getting the bleep away from this crazy, yellow-eyed demonic doppelgänger and reaching safety.

After that stressful level, I went back to earlier levels to find more Star Coins, as I will constantly need more to unlock the castles in the Special Worlds. And those levels are much simpler and easier on my fingers. I know there are a few more containing Cosmic Clones, and I am not looking forward to them. Maybe if I get enough Star Coins I can skip right by them, kind of like how I got enough Gold medals in the skill games for Trials Evolution to avoid perfecting the really hard and/or extreme tracks. Yeah, that’s the key: avoidance.

So, if you’re in New York City this weekend, swing by MoCCA Festival and StreetPass me some Question Block levels so I don’t have to be chased ever again. My heart and legs thank you in advance.

Chundering in Trials Evolution and having a blast

A long time ago, in a blogging galaxy far, far away, I took on the challenge of 30 Days of Gaming, a then-popular meme that proposed one videogame-themed topic per day for thirty of them timesinks. It took me longer than that to complete, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyways, one of the topics asked about was guilty pleasure games, which I named as Pokemon White, but really it could be anything Pokemon-related. But move aside, pocket monsters, because there’s a new contender in the ring, and it has truly taken me by surprise. Trials Evolution: I feel weird playing you, but also am having a blast.

To start, I am no fan of bike sports. Sports related to bikes and jumping hills and going down ramps and all that jazz. Is there even a term for it? Motorcycling? Just bicycling? Extreme motocross? Yeah, I don’t know and am completely disinterested in actually looking it up; feel free to school me in the comments section below. As a youngling in middle school and early on in high school, I hung out with a group of friends that were a mix of skateboaders and bikers and stoners. I rode a bike, too, but nothing fancy and could only do bunny-hops or short distance wheelies. For me, biking was a way to get around Smithville, to WaWa and Willy’s house, not training for an Olympic event, and once I got to the point where I had friends with cars or a car of my own, I left my bike in the dust. So yeah, bike sports. They surely exist–as do I–but we keep to our separate paths these days.

But Trials Evolution is no mere sports simulation. It’s full-on crazy. You take control of a man on a bike, and your main goal is to get to the other side, where the finish line is. There are other goals, too, such as getting there with no mistakes or under a certain time, and depending on how well you do, you are awarded medals (bronze, silver, and gold). Earn enough medals, and you can then unlock more stages to play on. Shampoo, rinse, clean your armpits, and repeat. Or however that saying goes. It starts out easy and then gets sickeningly difficult. But deep in that difficulty is fun, with a true sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of the track with no mistakes.

I never played Trials HD, but I’ve learned quite a bit about this series from my short time with Trials Evolution: it’s all about patience and control. Every lean or slight twitch of the analog stick is more than enough to send your biker head over heels (or heels over head). Learning the looseness and tightness of each bike is vital to clearing a track with the elegance of a ballet dancer, and right now, I am mainly using the third unlocked bike. Don’t know its name, but it doesn’t flip when you hold down the throttle, something I appreciate. The Phoenix, on the other hand, is extremely finicky and must be handled like a tower of glass shards balancing on a paper plate.

But it’s this dance of balance and skill that makes Trials Evolution enjoyable in my eyes. Plus the crazy level design. Otherwise, everything else is not my cup of tea. For example, the opening rap track that plays before the main menu is upsetting and embarrassing, and I just cannot get excited about adding new accessories to my bicycle and tricking it out. I dipped into multiplayer, which reminds me of Excite Bike, but probably won’t get too involved there. And the level editor looks neat, but I have no time to comprehend its intricacies and will be content to just download new, highly rated tracks made by others.

Currently, I have over 100 medals and am trying to Gold some medium difficulty levels in hopes of earning enough to unlock the last set of challenges. Wish me luck, and don’t mind my grumbling. Once I get over that nastily placed rock and down the hill on my way to victory, I’m nothing but smiles and warm compliments.