Despite having originally released at the end of 2016 to a largely positive reception, Mantis Burn Racing did little to reignite the ‘micro-racing’ sub-genre, made popular by titles such as Micro Machines. Sure, the odd title has been released here and there since the days of the classic, such as Toybox Turbos, but it never stuck around for too long before being disregarded once again. The demand for such a genre to make a mainstream return isn’t necessarily high either, but that’s not to say that a Nintendo Switch release isn’t appreciated; In fact, it feels like it belongs on Nintendo’s hybrid platform, and that’s an impressive feat indeed.
Following on from titles that are getting re-released on the Switch (I’m looking at you, Skyrim/Rocket League/RiME), Mantis Burn Racing is perfect for those get-up-and-go moments that are perfectly represented on Ninty’s finest. Splatoon 2 encapsulated the 5-15 minute bursts of gameplay that, I feel, thrive on the Switch, and VooFoo can, for better or worse, bring out that very same feeling. Superb, albeit simple, driving mechanics feel responsive and tight, but the lack of much else can prevent it from warranting the longer play sessions that other titles may demand.
What was once a cumbersome feeling implementation of an experience system is seemingly not such an issue, then, on the portable nature of the Switch. In the same way that chipping away at an experience bar in, say, Pokemon was perfectly natural, the system feels at home here where it may not have done on other platforms. Featuring a lengthy campaign, said XP points allow you to unlock more vehicles for you to take for a spin, as well as dish out upgrades to your ever-growing collection as you see fit. Not being given an order of what upgrades to apply also enables the player to tailor their vehicle of choice to their particular wants and needs. Unable to take a corner as fast as you would like to? You can change that, or at least help yourself in making your handling not quite so loose.
It’s just as well that the cars are interesting to look at, and the gameplay, in all it’s physic-heavy, gloriously simple wonder, is enjoyable, because the locations in which you find yourself most certainly aren’t. Having only included two locations, being an uninspired dusty wasteland, and an equally lacklustre cityscape, you’ll soon find yourself getting bored much faster than you would have anticipated. Granted, each location houses multiple different tracks within them, but they all start to blend into one eventually. When the driving feels as tight as it is, it’s certainly a shame that not everything else is equally spectacular once you take your eyes off the road. That all being said, the locations don’t detract from the actual gameplay experience, and once you start throwing the weighty vehicles around corners, you’ll soon forget all about the copy-paste nature of buildings, lamp posts, and the like.
Hours upon hours of fun are to be had with this title, as many have experienced for the past year. I still feel somewhat at conflict with my younger self, feeling as if there should be comedic weapons included, ala Micro Machines V2 (a childhood favourite), but that’s just me. On one hand, it would easily elevate this to the party game of the year, on arguably the console of the year. On the other hand, the more refined driving mechanics would be in direct competition with the focus on combat, and I enjoy the precise drifting mechanics far too much. Regardless, the Switch is where Mantis Burn Racing is at it’s best and finally feels at home.
This copy of Mantis Burn Racing was provided by the Publisher. He spent many hours traversing the winding tracks.