Trick Style Review







TV System: 



VMU, Jump Pack


Futuristic Racing

At first look, this title seemed to have potential. The gameplay vaguely reminded me of 1080 Snowboarding with a futuristic feel and added thrust option. Riding over the dirt hills, you will notice the landscape invokes smooth, poetic motions from your futuristic skateboard. A few dips into the pit and you'll soon be climbing the walls working 720's. This is the practice mode, and unfortunately it seemed to be the most fun part of the game (though at the time, I hadn't yet realized this).

Upon entering my first race, I can't say I was highly disappointed. With the variety of moves and the smooth gameplay it offers, I was once again filled with hopes from this title's beginning. However, I have to say this was relatively short lived. So much of this game seemed simply unfinished. It's almost as if when developing the gameplay, the design team was thinking... "We got something here!" and they were right. However, it's what they surrounded the gameplay with that causes problems. The races are far too cornered and filled with areas that are unclear about which direction to head to. Yes, you can hang an arrow above your head to guide your direction, but this seems only to aid in the disorientation. Couple this arrow in the top middle of the screen with your player ( you have no control over views; therefore, your player is always right in your line of sight), add a difficult and oddly winding track, and the result is a sheer "play by memory" rather than "by instinct" title. I cannot describe how much this hurts Trick Style. When I say these tracks are oddly windy, I don't mean there are too many curves. I mean that the places that 90 degree corners exist are hard to see, and they are reminiscent of a construction scene in progress.

After completing the first four or five tracks, I was forced to try something new--the challenge races. These pit you against the games guide. I found this aspect of the game quite enjoyable. This section may confuse you a bit, but I assure you it's rather simple yet ingenious. Let me explain. After your selection of a character (one of roughly ten all with separate abilities), then you are asked to select a board (stunt, speed, and combat board become available after completing levels). When you complete that, you are out the gates and into the arena. The beginning consists of a quick dip down into a mogul-filled, dirt track that you can practice on. If you decide to pass this section, you will notice the path leads back upward to what appears to be a platform or center stage. From this point, a look in every direction will show a practice arena, then the entrance to the races. For example from center stage, looking to your right, you will notice a small practice field leading to the entrance to the USA races. Straight ahead is another practice field leading to the UK races. To your left, another practice field leading to the Japan races. Lastly looking behind you, you will notice the practice field you just came through and the shelter which houses all of your other boarders. At any time you wish to change riders or boards, it's to this place you must travel to. On this center stage, first you'll encounter the guide. The guide will appear and offer options to you at the start of every game. Depending on how far into the game you are, his suggestions will differ. If you accept one of his challenge races (races and games done on the practice fields), which mainly consist of snatching spheres that hover in the air over hills and skating through rings in an actual race against the guide; you will learn a new trick. These new tricks go a long way in beating an arena's boss level (an example of this is if you reach the USA boss level, you are required to simply outscore opponents by tallying tricks in a half-pipe/pit).

I found these races and challenges extremely fun but there aren't very many of them and they can be extremely frustrating. However, there is no doubt that the beauty of this game shines in its mogul-filled open fields and pits and not in its street races. After getting through the first race I had mixed feelings. I was curious to see more. You can imagine my disappointment when UK track two was more of the same. Taking nothing from Bally-Midway's Hydro Thunder, it seems the game has a very limited look and feel to the different tracks. Moreover, the tracks do nothing for the gameplay. Places you would prefer a nice wide track with big jumps, you find that you're racing down a four-foot wide alley that opens into a street at a 90 degree angle. This to be followed by a construction gate warning you (and much too late I might add) that you're heading into a wall that was built for seemingly no reason. There are some cool effects that feel good such as smashing through glass and some other objects; but again, this does little for the overall fun factor of the game.

Well, finally after defeating the boss stage in the UK, I was headed for a new city, and I was also hoping a new look. After completing a few USA tracks, I was happy to see that the tracks were seemingly spacious. This allowed for a more all-out rush; however, the scenery changes were barely noticeable. I just couldn't help thinking, "Oh man, if they just would have done this or that, or changed this, then this would be a great game." There are only three cities available to race in. While their difficulty will ensure that you spend some time defeating all of them, you may not be so enticed by its fun factor to warrant doing so. I found this title extremely shallow as compared to other Dreamcast titles I have previously reviewed. This is another area that cost this game an exceptional rating. The fact is, this game had potential. Simply said though, that potential was never fulfilled. Another area that this was all too evident was in its graphics and sound.

I'm only going to spend a moment on the audio issues. Upon turning on the game and hearing the tittle tune, you'll no doubt be wondering whether your playing Dreamcast or Genesis. The music is THAT bad. I liked the futuristic, robotic sound of the announcer when you pick your skater; but other than that, very little impresses me. Voiceovers could have easily been done with the guide as he speaks but instead you are left reading text--it's as if you were playing a cart based title. Guys you have a gig here, I'm wondering if this game surpasses 200 megs of its GD-Rom's capacity. Compare this to a near 900 megs in NBA2K due out soon. There's simply no excuse for sound being this poor in a Dreamcast title.

This game almost looks incredible. What I mean is, like every other aspect of the game, it appears as if it's unfinished. Sure it may be great to look at after playing an older N64 or PSX, and it uses the ability to definitely push polygons (there is no hint of slowdown). This being true, newer titles on the PSX come very close to looking as good so once again there is no excuse for this. The players lack the definition than that of characters in NFL2K, Soul Calibur, and Sonic. It's almost as if they were a year or so behind in animation. The characters appear to be made up of bigger polygons; therefore, less of them. The actual animations of these characters is okay, but severely lacking in variety. Regardless of who you choose, the animations are identical and none of them that spectacular. I previously mentioned the lack of variety in the tracks in terms of background aura. Now to add to this the graphics which are not crisp like I'm used to seeing on this machine. In fact, they appear somewhat "dirty" and un-precise. This is extremely evident when you finish this game and immediately move on to play Sonic. The difference in quality is instantly apparent.

This game relay shines however in its two-player mode options. There are more than a few very fun challenges where you and a buddy can hit the practice fields and play games. Im a bit spoiled in the split screen genre, formerly a PSX link cable addict I could hardly stomach N64's attempts at a four player title. Splitting the screen was never to me an option I wanted. This being said, there is no link cable yet available to the Dreamcast. Therefore what choice do you have when you want to play a 2 player racing game? Taking this into consideration, this game is very fun with two people. There are games where you must collect and dump off orbs before your opponent, and ring races as well. These prove to be very fun, for young and old gamers alike. This Two-player option is fun, but by no means enough to save the game. Had it been a link title, and this was available to Dreamcast owners, I MIGHT consider purchasing it.

As I stated this game reeks of potential. In playing it you'll soon notice that its a perfect example of a typical launch title; seemingly incomplete, un-thourough, and rushed. They may have something there as far as basic gameplay and feel, although I personally believe it will be a company other than Acclaim who will capitalize on this 1080 feel that this game possesses. Its simply too good to be ignored by coders, so I'd expect a similar feeling game done right in the not so distant future. As it stands now, Id steer clear of this one.

The following is a condensed review of Trick Style:

Graphics: 79
It looks okay and is fast, though appears un-precsise. Large polygons and limited animation plague this title from beginning to end.

Sound: 65

I may be appearing a bit too generous. There is a severe lack of voiceovers, and the music is atrocious. I am 100 percent serious here This title sounds like a Genesis cart.

Playability: 80

This game has a great feel in certain arenas and is very reminiscent of the popular 180 Snowboarding title. It has good two-player modes; however, play is focused on street races which have more than a few problems. In the end, the great feel this game has is lost in the paradigm of the game's design which you're left to follow.

Lastability: 70

It won't be long from the time you open the plastic wrap, to the time you're somewhat regretting the purchase. Chances are you'll tire of it before you defeat all of the races.

My overall score for Trick Style is : 73

This is a perfect example of a typical first generation launch title. It appears rushed in many ways. The basic feel of this game is very nice and there are great two-player modes. Skating over the dirt moguls, and half pipes is very fun; however, the game concentrates on street racers which are far less appealing. Perhaps I would have been more lenient had it not been for such incredible titles as Sonic, NFL2K, and Soul Calibur. Unfortunately, Namco and Sega's work show us that first generation titles can be GREAT. Therefore, there's little or no room in my DC library as of October 3, '99 for TrickStyle. It's simply not worth the $50 price tag.

Review By: Jonathan Licata

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