Racing games come and go, if you pardon the pun. A lot of them run right under your nose and unless they’re called Forza, Dirt or Mario Kart, you don’t really batter an eyelid. The latest racer to perhaps do just that is Mantis Burn Racing, a top down arcade racing game that seems to have slid under the radar and uploaded itself on to your PC and console stores without anyone realising. In a generation where all gamers seem to want are super realistic visuals and impeccable physics, is there room for another ‘cooky’ racing game among the behemoths on the shelves of today?
Developed by the minds at Voofoo Studios, a team you may not recognise by name, but if you’re fan of playing tabletop & pool games on your consoles, you’ve probably sampled something with their stamp on. So with the likes of Pure Pool and Hustle Kings behind them, VooFoo Studios have tried their luck with a top down racing game, which is available now on PS4, XB1, PC and Nintendo Switch, retailing at under £15. Mantis Burn Racing’s ‘Career’ mode tasks you with completing dozens of racing events, ultimately leading you to finishing them all and becoming a beast. The game’s other modes include the standard local & online multiplayer, as well as an option to compete in the weekly challenge for ultimate bragging rights on the global leader boards. Upon first firing up the game, not an awful lot stands our nor seems different to anything similar I’ve already played, so how does the gameplay stack up against them?
Each car you race with on Mantis Burn Racing handles excellently, which is a great relief considering it’s not terribly exciting to play and just about stops it from being a tad naff. Another great accomplishment is how sharp and slick each of the game’s tracks are, how detailed and delightful each environment looks as I cruise past it, however there is only a few tracks to choose from, which makes it rather boring rather quickly; the cars too don’t look terribly good, more like a toy car rather than a small real one. Mantis Burn Racing is a difficult one to put my finger on, the factors that would normally make a racing game a hugely successful one aren’t enough to make it an exciting, massively enjoyable experience. Sure it looks great and to some degree is fun to handle and to play, yet it’s lack of tracks, creativity and originality make it a game that can get quite boring very quickly, especially with very little variation between each event. Players will face a number of challenges during their career mode, including a standard race, a basic time trial and an accumulator, which is a strange race that requires you to seemingly drag all the time to rack up points. Each event feels very repetitive due to the lack of any real difference in each of the game’s tracks, considering that they’re only spread across a couple of locations and it fools you into thinking it’s a new track when it’s the one you’ve just completed but in reverse. If Mantis Burn Racing ever got to the point where I was really immersed in each of its limited challenges, the horrifically lengthy loading screens are sure to kill off any enjoyment or interest you once had. More frustratingly, on some races where I was striving to complete all of that track’s objectives, I would sometimes need to restart the challenge, and even re-loading an already loaded segment was garishly painful to wait for. Everything outside of the racing is pretty dire. From the dull repetitive single track on loop, to the lack of encouragement for completing races, everything to do with the game’s presentation just feels uninspired, the complete opposite to what I thought this game would be.
Now we come to present day, and the launch of Mantis Burn Racing on the Nintendo Switch, coming with all the bells and whistles that the original release had, which includes the Elite’ class DLC, ‘Battle Cars’ DLC and the ‘Snowbound DLC all wrapped in a good looking price of £14.99 / $19.99 USD / €15.99. This game was well received on the PC, PS4 and XBox One, so how does it fit on the Nintendo Switch? perfectly, Play anywhere with anyone at any time, is the motto Nintendo use to promote their new system and this is correct when it comes to this game. Mantis Burn Racing fits perfectly on this system and being able to play two players with one joy-con each is great, saving us money, as you do not need to purchase another controller.
There is a total of 5 unique classes of vehicles to dig yourself into and drive around, over 11-season single-player careers with more than 150 events and 13 event types, this game offers loads for its asking price. You will have hours and hours of fun playing this game, even in local multi-player and online-multi-player, everything works great, with no issues, as long as you connect up of course.
Playing on the go via un-docked mode, gets you 60FPS and I think its 720P and 1080P docked, playing the game on the go is perfectly fine and the controls work great and when docked using your TV, chucking the joy-cons into its controller form, works just as good. I have never purchased the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and most likely never will, just never seen the point as all the games I have played have worked just fine with the joy-con docked.
Instead of waffling on about Mantis Burn Racing’s DLC here are links to the originals, we like to give our readers, everything.
Mantis Burn Racing has had a rather busy 12 months, and within this time it’s really surpassed all expectation and, perhaps most importantly, all of my first impressions. Upon initial release it was a relatively bland and rather dull arcade racer, and though the actual racing was slick and impressive, it was unfortunatley featured in the most basic game modes in the simplest way possible. Now however, it’s anything but, and for the first time in my journalistic career I am eating my words. Thanks to some incredible minds behind some mighty impressive DLC, Mantis Burn Racing is as chaotic, explosive and challenging as I hoped it would be. Sporting far more brutal and action packed vehicles, game modes and tracks than it once did, as a complete package Mantis Burn Racing is a completely different beast, and an essential purchase for any arcade racing fan; the game runs particularly well on the Switch, as if it was made with Nintendo’s machine in mind. I do still have my issues with the game’s presentation, but this time it’s out of frustration that it’s simple and unappetising menus don’t accurately represent how much fun this game can be. It may not be to everyone’s taste in a world dominated by serious racing simulators, but for a mere £15 this is a tremendous game and a stunning top tier, top down racer.