02/04/2018

☆ Review: Urban Trial Playground (UTP) - "A Flipping Good Time!" ☆

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Game Title: Urban Trial Playground
Developer: Tate Multimedia
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Rating: Melting
Urban Trial Playground (UTP) is a Nintendo Switch exclusive title that plays similarly to Redlynx’s Trials Fusion. A ‘pick up and play’ blast of fun with cool surf music, colourful summer locations and some serious stoppie action, although it does suffer from a lack of game modes and perhaps the shallowness of the gameplay isn’t for everyone.

The last game of this type that I played was Trials Fusion on PC and that game was the first I’d really played in the platform-racing genre since back in the days of ATV Simulator, Kickstart 2 and, more recently, Hill Climb racing (on my phone a few years back). I am a fan in general of the 2.5D perspective in games such as Shadow Complex, previous Trial games and the recent Evil Genome as it gives the sense of a vibrant, full world around you but keeps the actual gameplay quite streamlined and focussed.
When I installed UTP, I was instantly hips deep.

I completed the tutorial just to freshen up and see if there were any new additions to the controls but it’s all quitestraightforward with wheelies, stoppies, front/back flips and a ‘dodge’ button (essentially a ‘duck’ button
which is rarely used) at your command.

The graphics are quite crisp and colourful; although the game does suffer from some frame-pacing issues
on some stages which will hopefully be ironed out in future patches (I assume there will be patches because of thetitles’ exclusivity on the Switch console).

The stages take place in California during the summer and so the scenery is quite fun, exotic and relaxing.
The game has you booming through, past, under and above beach huts, hot dog stands, empty pools, houses,
steps, hills, beaches and even the occasional road.

UTP boasts over fifty stages but as the stages are split into either trick runs or speed runs, a lot of the stages
are re-used. I did find that the differences between the two modes were relatively minimal as the trick runs
require you to keep wheelie-ing between ramps and flips to keep your combos going in order to get the highest
possible score, whilst for the speed runs, you basically have to keep wheelie-ing again anyway  as it makes you
move faster and so the only difference is in if you flip in the air or not. There are also some collectable tokens to
pick up which allow you to afford to unlock upgrades in the in-game store but I found that I had unlocked all of
the bikes on an hour or so into the game and so was just pumping my upgrades into tuning it up as the rider
upgrades are all clothing based and thus superficial.
Music in UTP was a high point for me, the instrumental surf / pop rock vibes added to the tone of the game
(if ONLY The Surf Coasters were on it) without being too intrusive. UTP has a general tone of light-hearted fun and it’s captured well in the design and audio.
Something that I felt was how cumbersome the in-game menu was, when you complete a run you are given the
choices of moving onto the next one, re-trying or going back to the main starting menu.
I would have preferred the option of going to the store or the track selection instead of having to go right back
to the main menu and working back in from there, a slight niggle but one that grated on me slightly after a
while.
The lack of game modes may be an issue for some.  Beyond the single player mode and local co-op (which is
split into straight runs and a ‘chase’ game in which one player has a head start, surprisingly fun) there are no
online modes and so you are only really competing against yourself. I must admit that I hope that this is added
at a later date as it seems a strange thing to omit from a game purely based on speed and points.


Summary
UTP is a very cool game in short bursts but it is limited by the relative shallowness of the game play and a lack of different modes. I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) the game and the two player modes are great for a when a friend pops over but the longevity just isn’t there in its current state. If online modes are added, I can imagine it would be more appealing to a lot more people as that aspect would draw in the more competitive gamers however it is a decent addition to any Switch library due to its accessibility and breezy game play.
Right, I’m off to see if I can jump over my shed….on a bike, of course… I’m not stupid.
πŸ’§❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️πŸ’§


Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt