It might not feel like almost 30 years since Kikstart 2 on the Commodore 64, or even nearly 8 years since Trials HD took the Xbox 360 by storm, but the Motorcycle Trials genre has been around a while and now there’s a new but experienced competitor on the starting line.
Brought to us by Miniclip (the team behind a number of balance/physics games on mobile platforms, MX Nitro looks set to give trials more than a run for it’s money.
The thing that’s immediately evident is how good MX Nitro looks, easily on par with full priced motocross games, great attention has gone into producing high quality visuals in a budget package for digital release.
Using the same graphical prowess people are used to for other titles, I’ve even had people insist that it’s a first person racer like MXGP2 when in fact, Nitro sits closely next to Trials HD in the balance/physics genre.
To start off with you’ll navigate the pretty standard menu system to your first race, it’s a simple task of getting to the finishing line against another rider, but soon enough you’ll realise it’s far from simple as your rider face-plants the edge of a cliff
While Trials gave you about a quarter of the game to get to grips with the physics of the bike, MX Nitro doesn’t even give you the first few levels, instead you’ll have to retry a few times while you get to grips with things.
It’s a shame that MX Nitro is a core arcade experience, because the quality and presentation with a deeper career mode would have made for some impressive results, but instead you’ll go from area to area covering a handful of races with little more than progression to keep you hooked.
Not as slow or technical as Trials, there’s still the bumps, obstacles and jumps to contend with, but you’ll instead be forced to mix speed with precision as you pull of a variety of tricks and spins and while buying new clothing and aesthetics with your winnings is tempting, it’s better to save the credits so you can get on the latest bikes and upgrades once available to make later levels a little easier to navigate.
Mixing up your tricks earns you more boost which is often important as you’ll come across jumps that can only be cleared with a healthy dose of nitro, and performing clean stunts and landings will rack up the points although it’s usually speed and fluency required to come in first place.
There’s very little hand-holding and while it’s clearly pointed out exactly what you need to do, it’s often a little surprising how much is required early on in the game. Your reward for clearing these early tasks are new bikes, new stunts and a whole host of levels but as you progress through the 40 or so levels you’ll find the requirements to win aren’t any less forgiving especially when you encounter the Boss races.
You will be rewarded with reward boxes, these don’t carry much fanfare, but they’ll unlock much-needed tricks as well as a whole host of aesthetic items.
Back to the presentation and there’s certainly bonus points on offer, with slick visuals, some nice scenery in the background and a feeling of speed which leaves you feeling accomplished as you scream across the finishing line and everything zips along smooth without any noticeable slow-down, it’s easy to be impressed when a game looks this good and only costs £15.99/$19.99
On top of the visuals there’s a high standard of audio with voice acting throughout explaining your progression, and while the rocky background music might fill the gaps, it’s a shame the soundtrack wasn’t more memorable.
It’s fair to say that MX Nitro starts off as a challenging game, but that’s only because it feels so similar to titles like Trials, but demands such a different play style. This helps Nitro feel fresh and unique and while some levels do start to feel quite repetitive in their layout and the way you approach them, you’ll soon get to grips with the play style, and you’ll start to breeze through some levels without much trouble, soon enough you’ll be backtracking to raise enough funds for bike unlocks and you’ll need to master the higher scoring tricks to pass a boss like Nitro Dawg!
Most will find a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging experience that’s appealing enough for newcomers but tough enough to task even the most experienced gamers, with online play only offering a more limited 12 tracks, I experience quick matchmaking and flawless performance which left me wishing a little more effort had gone into the multiplayer experience.