Trials: The Elasto Mania of Today

My History with Elasto Mania:

Back in the year 2000 I was an eighth grader, and my friend had downloaded a game on his home computer. A game that we would be come very obsessed with. That game was called Elasto Mania!

Elasto Mania (2000)

The game consisted of using physics to control a motorcycle. You could accelerate, break and lean forward or back. You could also flip the body of the bike 180 degrees to turn around. The main objective was to beat each level by grabbing apples and reaching the flower.

We played many, many hours at my friend’s house. Then we all downloaded it on our own home computers. I call it a home computer because that’s what it was at that time. Everyone in the house didn’t have their own PC or laptop. There was one shared family computer that everyone took turns using. (And this was a time where if someone was using the Internet — aka AOL — the phone wouldn’t work. What a crazy time to be alive!)

I remember redownloading Elasto Mania later on, in college. I randomly thought about it one day and downloaded it then played it for about a week before moving back to console games. I then forgot about it until I downloaded it once again yesterday, this time paying $9.99 for it on Steam. Here’s a little taste of Elasto Mania:

My First Trials:

The first time I played one of the early Trials games I remember thinking, This is basically a souped up version of Elasto Mania. The style, the gameplay and the physics took me back to playing Elasto Mania. I even thought, maybe Ubisoft bought the Elasto Mania company. Trials is Elasto Mania but faster and with a facelift.

There are two Trials games that I played in recent years. I got obsessed with Trials Frontier (2014) on my iPhone for a few months. I also made my way through a good chunk of Trials Fusion (2014) since it was a FREE PS Plus game a few years ago.

Trials Frontier was a mobile game that felt very much like a mobile version of a Trials game. They had the touch controls, mobile-style progression with lots of wasted time. After most levels you’d have to read a bunch of character dialogue, when all I wanted was to drive my bike.

Trials Fusion for PS4 felt a little different. The tracks were faster and bigger, with huge jumps and stunts. You would progress though levels, and you could always come back to try for a higher score in a previous level. The actual gameplay was pretty much the same for both games, but the progression system and size were different. And of course, it did play much better on console/PC over the mobile version.

Playing Trials Rising:

I first tried out Trials Rising (2019) this week after paying $5.99 for the standard edition on the Nintendo eShop (not realizing that I could have bought the Gold edition for only $4 more equipped with DLC).

After giving this game a few hours of my time I truly enjoy the gameplay. It’s definitely more Trials. More big jumps, crazy stunts, wild tracks and huge explosions with high speed, high-flying fun. The part I’m not so excited about is the story, the progression and the loot crate system. This game is laid out like a mobile game, a more upscale mobile game, but a mobile game, nonetheless.

I’ll still enjoy playing Trials Rising, I just don’t really care about the story and everything going on other than gameplay. The sponsorships, the leveling up, the endless crates of loot — everything happens so fast! This games loot system doesn’t go into gambling territory or anything evil like that. It’s mostly cosmetics and in-game currency that you’re unlocking. The problem is there are just too many loot crates. You level up way to quickly and you end up with a stack of crates before you know it (and they aren’t even fun to open, like an Overwatch loot crate). I would rather they just tell you your “new items unlocked” after each ride.

I just want to ride my bike and do flippies. I don’t need to ride with the ghosts of players from across the globe showing me how good or bad I am doing. In the last game (Trials Fusion), I could check my online friends’ high scores for each track — if I felt like it. Here are some silly ghost riders racing alongside me (also some crazy stunts):

Trials Rising – Launchpad at the Grand Canyon

I will continue to play the game because it is fun while riding.. I just don’t know for how long I will enjoy it. Here are some more sweet Trials Rising highlights (and wipeouts):

Trials Rising (2019) – Desert Track

My favorite track so far has been the film set track. You get to ride through different genres of movie sets including action and sci-fi. It’s still early in the game for me so I’m sure I will find some other great tracks. I call this one “The Great Movie Ride” because it reminds me of the old ride from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Check out this video for the sweet special effects on the Sci-Fi alien attack part:

Trials Rising (2019) – The Great Movie Ride

If you’re going to seriously play a Trials game I would recommend them on a Playstation, XBox or PC over the Nintendo Switch. These allow you to use analog triggers with different sensitivity for acceleration and braking. The Switch’s triggers work just like any controller’s buttons, just single push which makes it not so great for driving games or games where you must accelerate and not always at full speed.

Trials vs Elasto Today:

Elasto Mania has not changed from what I remember. It’s the same exact game it was in the year 2000 — in the Year 2000! (below is the only GIF I could find for “In the Year 2000,” so if you get it that’s cool, if you don’t just move on)

I’m sure they may have updated the graphics a bit for the Steam release, but it looks and feels the same as what I remember. You saw the earlier video, it doesn’t make your eyes burn like some old games, so I think it still holds up.

Yes, that is the standard I hold older games to, “does it make my eyes burn?” Goldeneye 007, NFL Blitz and many N64 games make my eyes burn today, so they do not hold up. These games are probably the reason I needed to get glasses in high school.

Elasto Mania (2000)

Both games (Elasto Mania and Trials) operate on basically the same physics system (I was not very good at physics in high school, so don’t take my word for it, but I’m pretty sure this is true). You accelerate and brake, then you lean forward and back to not wipeout. You can also rotate (or do flips) while in the air by leaning one way or the other.

The main difference is that in Elasto Mania you can hit spacebar to spin your character and the body of your bike around 180 degrees. In Elasto Mania the levels aren’t as big and beautiful, but this was over 20 years ago. Levels are kept to one giant square or rectangle with platforms and obstacles inserted. You can usually travel both left and right these levels. In Trials there is only one way to go, sometimes with the occasional fork in the road (or two options on where to land).

Other than these minor differences, when looking at gameplay alone, Trials is just a souped-up, faster version of Elasto Mania. If the developers weren’t inspired by Elasto Mania when creating the Trials games then I don’t know what else could have happened here.

Elasto Mania 2021:

In my journey to write this article I spent $16 on both of these games. It’s quite strange that I actually spent more on a game from 21 years ago vs a game from two years ago ($10 Elasto Mania vs $6 Trials).

I also learned from the Elasto Mania website that there is not just one but three games in this franchise. Yes, Elasto Mania became a trilogy (Elasto Mania 2 and Action Supercross). I was only familiar with the original game so I only bought, downloaded and played that for research.

The last thing I learned about Elasto Mania is that they are still going strong in 2021 (21 years after release). On their site I found this press release, stating that Elasto Mania will return and release on the Nintendo Switch, XBox One and Playstation 4 some time this year.

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