The first few stages take place in a rendition of Vietnam bathed in sunlight and explosions. You steer a stunt bike over steep, rolling hills, in theory making sweet, impossible jumps and flips. But because Trials of the Blood Dragon requires surgical precision, you will likely spend an equal amount of time failing and picking up the pieces as you familiarize yourself with the controls. Compared to previous Trials games, the tutorial here is a bit lacking, but the game balances that out by having a steadier learning curve than previous Trials games. The difficulty of missions increases in gentle increments, easing you into mastery. The pacing might run the risk of boring veterans if the game didn’t have its share of tricks up its sleeve.
After a few levels, you acquire a gun, and for a short time, the gunplay is a fine fit, with a reasonably small selection of targets to hit while riding your bike and targetting with the right analog stick. However, there comes a time when you have to ditch your bike. In these few, scattered stages, you control Roxanne on foot, and the game becomes a twin stick platformer. The mix of platforming and shooting during these missions is a counterintuitive mess, where you can use the X button to jump, but can’t shoot at the same time. All the while, your enemies have spectacular aim, and you don’t have the time to stop and shoot.
Not all of Trials of the Blood Dragon’s new ideas flounder, however. Later stages swap the guns for a grappling hook. You have to manage momentum and positioning with greater care than usual, but it leads to some tense, heart-pounding moments when speed is a factor–there’s an amazing boss fight against Power Ranger lookalikes that makes rather brilliant use of the hook. Roxanne eventually gets to use a radio controlled car built for speed and wild loop-de-loops in a distinct slate of Hot Wheels-inspired courses, adding another appreciable layer of over-the-top action.