Trials Frontier is a fun arcade-style motorcycle stunt riding experience. The whimsical graphics, unique bike controls, and intricate courses make the riding interesting, and you’ll find yourself laughing at your own crashes. Even at the very beginner levels, the bike responds well to inputs and you’ll quickly become more expert in jumping, wheelying, and flying through the air without landing on your head.
Trials Frontier is set in a dusty desert town. You play the part of an aspiring motorcycle trials rider. (For the uninitiated, motorcycle trials is the sport where you try to get you and your bike up, over, and around obstacles without falling or putting a foot down.) The town is populated with various characters, some friendly, some nefarious, and some who want your help. In order to help them you take part in motorcycle competitions, sometimes against the clock, and sometimes against one of the bad guys, collecting rewards for good performance. You’ll need those rewards to upgrade your bike and remain competitive as you pass through the many levels. Characters include a map-maker who needs your help charting desert territory, a bad guy named Butch who’s been terrorizing the town, and a damsel who needs your help to get rid of Butch and reclaim the town.
The on-screen controls are large and easy to understand and use. You can go forward, backward (which you never do), and control the fore-and-aft pitch of your bike, aiming to land on the back wheel, front wheel, or on both, depending on the course you’re riding. Too much nose-down and you’ll go over the bars and land hard on your head. Too much wheelie and you’ll pitch over backwards (just like you did on your bicycle when you were showing off as a kid).
The visuals are very cartoonish and arcade quality, which perfectly suits the jokey and fun nature of Trials Frontier. The courses are easy to figure out, and the bike physics are consistent and predictable. Even when you crash, the game is fun and you’ll wish the courses were longer so you could spend more time on the bike.
This brings us to the biggest downside of the game: you don’t spend enough time on the actual courses. You spend far too much time in town hearing from characters, spending rewards on upgrades, and hearing parts of a nonsensical story that somehow ties in with your series of races. I found myself growing impatient with this filler, and wanting to jump back on the bike. The game is free in the App Store, with strong pushes for in-app purchases.