2D BMX games have been relatively popular since the turn of the century - take RedLynx's excellent Trials series, for instance. Urban Trial Freestyle, released on the 3DS eShop almost four years ago at this point, was clearly inspired by those games, but managed to bring some extra ideas of its own to the table to create a unique and fun - if not mindblowing - eShop title. Now that we have a sequel in the form of Urban Trial Freestyle 2, is it another success?
It's a pretty simple concept - there's an obstacle course laid out on an entirely 2D plane (but, naturally, with 3D graphics) and you have to try and reach the end on your bike. The controls are as simple as can be, you accelerate and then use the Circle Pad to angle your bike forwards or backwards, with the occasional brake or reverse.
In the main game, which you'll probably be trying out first, you'll have to go through one stage after another in five different sets of levels. Each of these has eight tracks, making for 40 total - exactly double the amount the previous title had. Each of these tracks can be played either in stunt or time attack mode, with the stunt mode's objective being to pull off specific stunts (like high jumps, flips and more) at designated spots in the level to earn points; the time attack mode's goal is simply reaching the end as fast as you possibly can.
Depending on how well you do in each level, you'll be graded from one to five stars, which will then be permanently displayed on the level select screen. Your score or time will also be uploaded to an online leaderboard, of which there's one for every track. Some of these scores/times will appear on billboards throughout the levels, allowing you to gain just a little bit more fame.
At first you'll start with just one locale, but performing decently and getting 3 stars will allow you to unlock the subsequent ones. If you manage to do exceptionally well and earn 5 stars you'll also start unlocking levels in a sixth set of tracks labelled "challenges", which feature some radically different gameplay. It's not that difficult to unlock everything, though it'll probably require some replays and memorization.
If you played the previous game you may have occasionally experienced some questionable physics, such as the bike being flipped almost entirely backwards and still somehow managing to flip back forwards. Let's just get it out of the way - this still happens in this game. This might be a little disappointing for some, but thankfully the other issue with the previous game, that of randomly clipping through scenery and getting stuck, doesn't seem to happen as often this time around; in fact in the time we played it didn't happen at all, though we're not discounting the possibility entirely.
It's also possible to earn money, either by finding it scattered throughout each track or having it awarded to you for your performance. Money can be spent on just two things - different clothes for your racer, or different bikes and bike parts. The clothes don't really do much, but buying different bikes and parts will allow you to fully customize how your bike handles, which can be quite handy as certain setups might work better on certain tracks.
A great inclusion in the previous game was a track editor, and thankfully it has made its return here as well. It's quite extensive, with the ability to choose your track setting and tons of different parts to use. But there's one big addition that makes it better than its previous incarnation - the ability to share creations online. Each track you make can now be uploaded, after which you will receive a code which you can pass on to others to allow them to download it. It's a little disappointing you can't simply access a list of all uploaded tracks, but we'll take what we can get - perhaps someone can start a code database?
Aesthetically it's quite a good-looking game. Like the previous release it's still slightly jaggy, but for a 3DS eShop game it meets expectations. The tracks this time seem to go for a bit more of a rural setting rather than a big city like its predecessor, so if you've played the previous game as well it makes for a nice change.
Featuring double the content and the addition of (slightly imperfect) online level sharing, Urban Trial Freestyle 2 improves on the previous game in pretty much all the ways it should. Whether it's earning stars or designing and/or playing usermade levels, there's plenty of content here to keep coming back to.