It's only been a little over a month since G-STYLE's Jump Trials hopped onto the DSiWare service, but its sequel Jump Trials Extreme has already made the long leap over from Japan. Like 10 Second Run, the Jump Trials games are all about performing daring feats of platforming in under 10 seconds. We thought the original was an enjoyable but flawed game, and thankfully this sequel is a definite improvement in almost every way. It's a one trick pony through and through, but there's still lots of frantic fun here for players who like their platforming plotless, quick, and simple.
Jump Trials Extreme's main gameplay mode, Trials, has the simple goal of making it to the end buzzer before the 10-second timer runs out, and features 100 levels split into 10 stages. Many of the levels are contained on a single screen, though there are quite a few that scroll both horizontally and vertically. Overall, the level design is better than in the first game; multiple endpoints and routes spice things up, and the environmental obstacles (generally introduced one at a time, one per stage) are nicely done.
Completing a 10-level stage in Trials unlocks those individual levels for play in Challenge and Time Attack modes. Returning from the first game, Challenge mode is a hyper-quick collect-athon, as players try to pick up three medals positioned in each level before reaching the goal. It's a good bit more difficult than Trials mode by nature, so Challenge mode will go over well with perfectionist platforming fans.
Finally, a Time Attack mode new to the sequel tasks players with running through the levels as quickly as possible, awarding bronze, silver, and gold medals for particular par times. While time attacking levels that already have a 10 second time-limit admittedly seems a bit ridiculous, it's actually a great addition. The multiple paths and goals in the levels really come into their own here - it's easy enough to pick one route over another in Trials mode without thinking anything of it, but trying to shave milliseconds off your time encourages experimentation to see which way works out faster.
The controls - still using only the D-pad and the A button - are noticeably tighter in Jump Trials Extreme than in the first game, and that lets players focus on the levels instead of dealing with floaty jumps. A few objects are still a bit wonky - trampolines can be unpredictable, for instance - but in general the game gives you the precision needed to tackle its bite-sized runs.
One of the best additions to this sequel is the ability to quickly restart a level by pressing the Select button. It seems like a silly request when everything's over in 10 seconds anyway, but after failing a level a few times, you'll know the exact point when you won't be able to make it anymore, and it's great to be able to start over without having to wait out the remaining time on the clock. It's especially helpful in the Challenge and Time Attack modes, where a missed medal or failed jump even in the first second can ruin your run.
The original Jump Trials sported a graphical style that was too rough to be called minimalistic and too bland to be called much of anything else, but Jump Trials Extreme thankfully makes improvements here too. It's a substantially better looking game, and the change comes from subtle tweaks: everything is cleaner and crisper, the backgrounds are more interesting, level tiles no longer look like they were designed entirely in MS Paint, spikes now resemble spikes instead of inexplicably deadly triangles, and even the fonts used are much more pleasant - it all comes together to make a huge difference. It's perhaps still a bit lacking in personality, and the protagonist feels like a poor man's Mr. Game & Watch, but it's definitely more polished this time around.
The audio presentation is a similar step up: there are now distinct backing tracks for each of the game's three modes, and the "hurry up!" variations that start after five seconds feel like a natural continuation of these, rather than a jarringly separate jingle as in the first game. The music consists of funky uptempo melodies, and while its extremely repetitive nature is almost assured to annoy the life out of anyone nearby and not playing, it works well within the context of the game
Jump Trials Extreme represents a marked improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way. It controls better, looks and sounds better, and introduces a welcome Time Attack mode and much-needed quick restart option. It's not an innovative game, and it lacks the charm or personality of the best DSiWare titles, but it's definitely fun and a good deal at 200 points. Fans of the first game will be very happy with this sequel, and players looking for quick bursts of simple precision platforming can feel free to skip over the original and check out Jump Trials Extreme.