Kick Start was never quite like this. Sure, the classic eighties motorcycle trials show had its share of nasty falls, but did the teenage riders – or their Junior Kick Start equivalents – have to negotiate fiendish courses set over forty foot-high scaffolding, risking fatal flips and stomach churning helmet/plank collisions that make you wince just looking at the replays?
Obviously not, or Dave Lee Travis’s TV career would have been over much, much sooner. Even the mighty Hairy Cornflake would have struggled for words with some of the bone-crunching mayhem going on here. Nor would the dulcet tones of Blue Peter’s Peter Purves have been able to gloss over what happens when a dirt-bike flips at a nasty angle grinding the tyre into the unfortunate rider’s groin. Yeesh – it’s enough to make your eyes water.
Still, Kick Start isn’t the only retro button pushed by RedLynx’s lovely little mover. Remember Wheelie on the Spectrum or Kick Start on the Commodore 64? Well, this is basically a 2008 reworking. On the surface, it’s incredibly simple. Your rider starts on the left-hand side of a 2D scrolling playing field and has to make it to the finish line on the right. In the middle stands a series of ramps, platforms, logs, concrete tubes, and miscellaneous obstacles, some of which may be on fire. You only have to worry about four keys: accelerate, brake, lean forward and lean back. It doesn’t get much more basic than that.
The complexity comes in when you realise that Trials 2 is based on a 2008 standard physics engine, simulating – albeit with a little element of fantasy – the workings of weight, momentum, friction, balance etc. Jumping isn’t just a question of hitting a ramp at speed; you have to keep your rider balanced so that you make the most of the airtime from the take-off, and can hit the landing area at an angle that won’t cause a tragic flip. Making it over a stack of logs or up a fearsome incline requires careful juggling of the lean keys and the throttle. Get it right and you can make your way up in a single charge. Get it wrong and it’s a case of face meets timber, repeatedly and rather painfully.