Watch this week's race on ESPN3000! - Review By Ares
We may have a trend developing in the gaming industry here. Nintendo64 has F-Zero, PlayStation has Wipeout, and now Dreamcast has TrickStyle. Is there an unwritten rule that says new systems must have at least one futuristic arcade racing game?
Criterion Studios tries to match the tremendous success and brand-name recognition that those games managed for their respective systems with their first Dreamcast title that has you tearing through futuristic cities all the while pulling off incredible stunts.
TrickStyle is the Diet Coke of racing games. It has enough redeeming values that make you enjoy your purchase, but in the end, you know you could've gotten something better.
TrickStyle certainly looks great, each track and skater has a unique look.
The graphics are very well done with detailed textures and coloured lighting effects as well as great animations for your skater. Each of the tracks within the three cities that you race through has a unique artistic style and multiple routes to take that allow you to pass your rivals. Instead of simply taking the fastest route with the fastest skater, you may be able to find shortcuts by successfully pulling off a stunt, which enables you to reach a higher level where you can bypass your opponents.
As for the opposition you'll face? There are nine skaters to choose from, each having their own skills such as strength, speed, and stunt abilities. You'll also be able to mix and match skaters with different boards that have their own attributes.
Okay, so the graphics are good, but what about my ears? Will they tingle? The techno music does the job sufficiently with a variety of not-quite-The Chemical Brothers-tracks.
On the gameplay side of things, the physics model is probably the most redeeming value in TrickStyle. While it takes some time to get used to, the controls are intuitive and feel right. I say, "feel right" because unless my name is McFly, I don't know what flying on a hoverboard actually feels like! After a few minutes of practice, you'll be catching air off ramps and landing 720 degree spins!
Those 720 degree spins come in quite useful on the stunt bowl maps, which are much more fun than the race maps. Competing against rival skaters or your own friend in two player mode, you have objectives such as trying to collect the most orb pieces or seeing who can get the most points by successfully completing the toughest stunts.
First of all, it should be noted that I absolutely loved Wave Race and Wipeout so the fact that I still enjoy TrickStyle in spite of its faults should come as no surprise.
Unfortunately, TrickStyle is a victim of style over substance. The amount of depth is disappointing.
TrickStyle could've really been something great, but instead the game finds itself falling short of its goals. It's like getting ready to dive into a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken: At first, you're starving and, "oooh!," does that chicken look good! But after your fifth drumstick, you're ready to hang your head over the toilet seat.
It's a shame the frame rate never seems to exceed about 30 frames per second on the race maps. While 30FPS is quite smooth and perfectly playable, it just isn't the same as the silky 60FPS found in other games. More evidence that TrickStyle isn't optimized as well as it should be lies in the long load times. We're talking in the 10-20 second range each time you load a new level. When compared to games such as Sonic Adventure and Soul Calibur, which only take about 5 seconds to load a level, it can be quite frustrating.
Although TrickStyle is an action game, the lack of any detailed options or gameplay depth really hurts the replay value. Off the main menu, you select your skater, your board, and you're on your way to any race you choose, but it still comes down to racing for a better time or competing for more points in the stunt bowls.
It seems as though Criterion couldn't quite make up their minds as to what type of game they wanted to create. The stunt bowl levels are so fun, it's a shame Criterion decided to make TrickStyle more of a racing game than a stunt game. The stunt bowls have objectives such as trying to beat an opponent to hovering globes or competing against multiple opponents in the goal of getting the highest stunt score in the least amount of time. After succeeding, you earn the ability to perform new stunts or you receive a new board. Those levels are where the game really shines. The problem? There are only four of them if you count the Velodrome practice map. This problem remains during the two-player mode. The race maps aren't going to excite you, but the stunt maps are tons of fun against a friend.
The Loading Screen: you'll see it a lot in TrickStyle.
While the music is good, the sound effects suck. There's a real lack of environment sounds to set the mood. The voice acting, whenever you happen to come across it, is annoying.
The Final Word
In the end, the four stunt bowl maps are much more fun than competing in the fifteen races. The great graphics are hampered by an inconsistent frame rate and although the physics modeling allows for some great stunts, the game can get old quite fast. Still, even though it is repetitive and shallow, I do find myself going back to the stunt bowls trying to pull of that 1080 mid-air back flip!
Highs: Great graphics, physics modeling, decent soundtrack, fun to pull off crazy stunts.
Lows: Inconsistent frame rate and load times, lack of options and game play depth, ho-hum replay value.
Other: 1-2 Players, VMU Compatible (for saving progress, there's also a mini-game).
(out of a possible 10)
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