I love a good arcade racer… unlike my more simulation daft buddy Ross here on Gamer Tagged I’m all about the unrealistic power slides, the side slams, t-bars, crashes, bashes, speed, and well, more fun aspects of racing.
Mantis Burn Racing, a game I would LOVE to know how its title came about, is a throwback to the halcyon days of top down arcade multiplayer racers such as Super Sprint and it’s successor, Championship Sprint and later on the likes of Badlands. It also sits finely alongside the 16-bit classic of Super Cars, Micro Machines and their ilk. It is, in short, a lot of fun to play.
This indie racer, from Birmingham based VooFoo Studios, is a joy to play. The handling feels tight, responsive and oh-so-gleeful as you power slide your way around each of the locations, be it the sand dunes of sun-scorched Sand Town or the asphalt city streets of New Shangri-la.
The game employs a tilt-shifted view of the race proceedings that ensures you have great visibility of what’s around each track and when corners and jumps are coming up. It’s also very clean and sharp to watch too, with both the sand and cityscapes looking beautiful as you race around.
Career mode is where I’ve been spending most of my time in-game and it’s also where you’ll get a great chance to experience each of the gameplay types and vehicles on display. 7 seasons of increasing difficulty across multiple racing disciplines on your road to Mantis Burn Racing Champion gives you the chance to hone your skills before taking your vehicles into multi-player.
It’s a nice mix of racing staples; time trials, eliminators, multi-race competitions, standard multi-lap races… you get the picture. Plenty here to keep you happy! On top of that though, is an RPG-lite system where you receive gears and gold for not only your finishing position but also for specific tasks to achieve in each race. These tasks range from the likes of needing to win the race, to drifting for so long or jumping so far or causing damage to the environment. It’s a great way of expanding the game and keeping you interested.
Completing races and tasks allows you to upgrade your vehicles as you level up, with three classes to choose from; light, medium and heavy. With each class carrying three vehicle types, it’s another way of maintaining the longevity of the game as you level up, gain upgrades and purchase new vehicles within each class. The vehicles themselves have a pseudo-futuristic type look and feel but in essence they’re buggys, cars and trucks. More importantly, each handles a little differently so you do need to adjust your style dependent on the class you’re racing in.
If you’ve had enough of career mode too, VooFoo Studios have also included weekly challenges that put you against other players across the globe; for example, this week the task is to lap your opponent four times in the fastest time… and THAT is indeed a challenge, have tried and failed miserably every time so far. The good thing is though, for all I’ve failed, the game plays so well it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting against it. It’s merely a lack of skills on my part!
If there’s any reservations with the game, it’s that I wish the vehicles sounded meatier than they do. I think they all have electric engines on them as they’re very quiet and seem to hum! I also wish they had weapons of some sort too (perhaps that’s more my remembrance of the likes of Badlands and Super Cars 2). On the flip side of this though, I have to take my hat off to the music. It’s magnificent, and like I’m in a John Carpenter film. Big Trouble in Little China immediately springs to mind and it sets the scene perfectly for this big old slice of nostalgia influenced racing.
As yet, I’ve not managed to experience any multi-player in the game but truth be told, knowing how well the single player game plays, I can practically guarantee that with a few mates, a few jars and a few controllers this would be couch competition at its finest!
Mantis Burn Racing is a magnificent top down racer and not only pays homage to the classics of old, but draws on their strengths and makes them its own.