Trailblazer Review—Setting the Trail Ablaze


I apologize for the great delay of this review. Trailblazer became available for non-Plus members in the PlayStation Store back in January, but we only had a copy last week. I forgot to download the game since it only came available for download several days after it was announced on the PS Blog. I totally forgot this game.

Anyway, if you purchase, download and play Trailblazer, you won’t forget it anytime soon. This game requires superhuman memorization skills. Still, it’s a fun, simple and colorful Mini. There is not much to complain about, except for its punishing difficulty and psychedelically nauseating graphics.

Trailblazer was originally a Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit and Amstrad CPC game, subsequently ported, in an unrevised form, to the Atari ST and Amiga. And then later, this game appeared for the Gizmondo. I don’t know anything about these systems; I just got this historical snippet from Wikipedia.

The PlayStation revamp of Trailblazer features amazing upbeat dance music that blends well with its sparkling, blazing graphics. At first, it looks like this Mini is a racing game, but it’s not. It’s an arcade game, a speedrun challenge mixed with an avoidance game at its core. However, it’s not that simple at all.

Trailblazer lets you control a single spinning wheel across a course, aiming to reach the end of the course while keeping on pace with the time constraints. There are obstacles and pitfalls that will make things challenging. Movement is done with with the D-pad, and you can jump by pressing the right shoulder button, popularly known as the R button.

What I love about Trailblazer is how the game gets harder as you progress, harder exponentially. I could have gotten lazy and curbed my expectations, given how seldom Minis appear in the Store nowadays, and with their overall quality being average except for a very few titles. But Trailblazer kept me on my toes for an extended time.


For the longest time (and I blame the SNK Minis for this), I hadn’t played a Mini with multiple game modes. Trailblazer, though, has several. Arcade Mode is actually more of a campaign mode, while Time Trial is more of a survival/practice mode using the tracks you ran on in the Arcade Mode. Also, Endurance can be unlocked through the course of your campaign.

This Mini is furious in terms of speed, and it gives me headaches. I can easily blame this on my deteriorating eyesight, but I am afraid for those who have epileptic tendencies. This game is flashy, with blinking lights and intense frames, so you might do well to be very careful in considering this game.

Gameplay is pretty straightforward; it’s just pass or fail. No health bars, no upgrade system, no enemies. Aside from the pitfalls, you only deal with color-coded hindrances or power-ups. Purple is an obstacle. Yellow is a jump pad. The green ones are acceleration pads, and red slows your vehicle down.

This is a skill-based game, and you have to bank on your skills early on. Extra time carries over to the next level, but once you get deep into the journey, you find your extra time nowhere but being spent outright.  Remember, when time runs out, it’s over. Also, the jumps are limited, so you must use them wisely per level. There are shortcuts, if you know where to look, and they are supernaturally helpful. In fact, for each track, you will have to retry and retry until you master it and determine the most optimized way of dealing with its obstacles and pitfalls.

You can choose the difficulty setting (hurray, choices!), but even at the easiest setting, it’s still not in the same breath as “easy.”

I can’t praise the graphics enough. Trailblazer is easily the best Mini when it comes to the pure graphics department (best game art, though, handily goes to everything Mediatonic, in my opinion). The controls are responsive, which is indeed the most important aspect for games like this.

Level design is commendable. In fact, you will never get bored because the stages are so varied. However, you need to be a quick thinker and have amazing reflexes to excel in this game. Otherwise, you’ll get frustrated more often than not.


Trailblazer could easily be a full PSN game, but we’re lucky it isn’t, in a sense. This is an excellent game with lots of value and a lengthy lifespan. The speedrun enthusiasts as well as those hardcore endurance gamers will drool over this game. Trailblazer is what a Mini should be. Unfortunately, several Minis have already exceeded the expectations of what a Mini should be, making Trailblazer’s great effort look like merely above-average.


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9 Responses to “Trailblazer Review—Setting the Trail Ablaze”
  1. volcane says:

    Great review Jasper, thanks! This is just my sort of game :-)

  2. thumbbandit says:

    @ Jasper
    Great review, I agree whole-heartedly. When I bought this mini a while back I did some research on it myself, though there isn’t much information on it out there. Did you notice the slogan on the side of the wheel?

    @ volcane
    What! You don’t have this game yet? here’s another review.

  3. volcane says:


    Lol, I must have missed this one when it came out! I’m going to rectify that right away – I’m going to pick this up :-) Thanks for the review link!

  4. I just won a code for this game from PSPminis (thank you) and while I have only been playing for the past 15 minutes or so, I had to stop and come by to say this is a very good game. I had been on the fence about this as I wasn’t sure quite what to expect.

    It has the speed thrill of the old sonic games, a look that reminds me a lot of the beautiful Rainbow Road track in Mario Kart, plus reminds me of the look and feel of F-Zero for the Super Nintendo but done in short race bursts/laps. What little I have played so far seems like it’s going to keep you on your toes with split second puzzle maneuvering as well (but in a fun way).

    Plus the game has very nice look graphics with really good matching music to grab and keep your attention.

  5. Sime says:

    This is a great game. I own the Gizmondo version and still play it now and again.

  6. onmode-ky says:

    Wow, a Gizmondo owner! It’s an endangered species, no? :)

  7. Huicho says:

    I have a question for you Sime. How many levels are in the Gizmondo version? Is it diffrent from the original?

  8. Huicho says:

    By the way, I was going to get a Gizmondo, but it has commercials in it. How ridiculous is that! By the way, Sime, do you own the game StickyBalls? That game seemed pretty cool.

  9. Sime says:

    Oops, I haven’t visited for a while, but I’ll answer the questions anyway. I’m afraid I don’t know how many levels are in the Gizmondo version as it’s way too hard for me to finish – it’s a very fast game – way beyond my modest abilities. I do own StickyBalls (ahem) and it is a very cool game; in fact it’s probably the Gizmondo game that I’ve played the most. The artwork is great, it’s addictive and quite relaxing to play. In fact, I might go and fire up the Gizmondo now (if it still works…it’s been a while).

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