Title: Mantis Burn Racing
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Publisher: VooFoo Studios
Genre: Racing, Arcade, Party, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: Everyone 10+ – Mild Violence
Release Date: 23/11/2017
Price: £14.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
The race is on, whenever, wherever you choose!
Mantis Burn Racing® is a modern top-down style racing game that combines physics-based gameplay with intuitive arcade racing in highly competitive, fast and addictive races. Prove your skills in 5 unique classes of vehicles over an epic 11-season single-player career with more than 150 events and 13 event types in frenetic, bumper-to-bumper races where winning is everything! Fine tune your vehicles with a RPG-style upgrade system and compete in split-screen races for up to 4-players or play online against opponents on other platforms.
Race Your Way
Play Mantis Burn Racing® your way, with all new features exclusive to Nintendo Switch™. Now you can race anytime, anywhere in the definitive version of the game, featuring ‘Elite’ class DLC, ‘Battle Cars’ DLC and ‘Snowbound’ tracks
Immersive Top-Down Racing
Drift, draft, and race your way across 12 stunning tracks in 3 uniquely challenging environments with glorious photo-realistic visuals that truly immerse players in the race.
Fine tune your vehicle’s handling and performance via a RPG-style upgrade slot system that presents players with deep tactical choices and excellent replay-value.
Compete on one console in classic couch-style split-screen races for up to 4-players.
Take on friends in 2-player local split-screen races using individual Joy-Cons with players sitting ‘cross-table’ at opposite sides of the Nintendo Switch™.
Local Wi-Fi Multiplayer
Allowing up to 8-players to connect multiple Nintendo Switch™ consoles together and race each other without the need for a connection to the internet.
Take the race online with up to 8-players and play against opponents on other platforms with Cross-Network play.
Often, people debate about the ‘quantifiability’ of a game review published in time for a games release. Has the reviewer invested enough hours into the game to expose its flaws? Is it fair to review a game on Day One or should we allow for significant time to pass whereby inevitable patches will be uploaded? Should a review be about the whole game or each game mode – especially if it evolves.
Then there is the flip-side: leave a game too long before review and some of its features may have dried up or become stale. These thoughts were prompted when I received the 2017 top-down racer, Mantis Burn Racing. Released in November of the first year in the Nintendo Switch cycle, it shared a release month with Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Doom and Resident Evil Revelations. It must have been the month of the ‘port.’
Listed as a modern top-down style racing game that combines physics-based gameplay with intuitive arcade racing in highly competitive, fast and addictive races, it serves as a very accurate description of Mantis Burn Racing. From the off, it was clear that this was not a small Indie company looking to cash in early doors. VooFoo Studies have carefully considered the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch and what they could achieve. Having released on PS4 and Xbox One in the Summer of 2016, it made perfect sense to bring it across to a Nintendo console which was selling extraordinarily well. Not only this, it feels like this represents the best way to play.
Looks and sounds
Spending 5 minutes completing a couple of races or hours making my way through the campaign, it always felt enjoyable both in handheld and docked. Although I can overlook graphical content for the sake of great gameplay, I often find that if the visuals are better in docked, I gravitate towards this wherever possible. Fortunately, Mantis Burn Racing doesn’t suffer the same fate, looking fantastic in both play-styles.
The three environments available are where Mantis Burn Racing shines, with outstanding detail and creative design. At times, I wanted the gameplay to be slower so that I could take it all in, but VooFoo Studios have still managed to make it a focal point for the races. There are a variety of landscapes including wasteland and cityscapes, and they are well-crafted and vibrant. Although only slight, I found the variations on the races themselves to be lacking. Considering you complete a large number of races in the wasteland during the career mode, it would have been great to see some more variety.
Where audio is concerned, it is competent if unremarkable. The sounds of the cars knocking into one another, the nitrous boost kicking in or the acceleration as you come out of a bend, it’s all here and sounds as it should. I wasn’t blown away by it, and the in-game music didn’t add much to the experience either.
Gameplay and replayability
With an extensive career mode, a plethora of customisable car upgrades, 150 events and 13 event types, there is many a reason to keep coming back. Alongside the action is an upgrade system to allow for changes to be made to your car and its performance, and is not just as simple as making my car go quicker. The beauty of the upgrade system is that you are limited to how many upgrades you can do and one can have an adverse effect on another. For example, make your car too quick and don’t upgrade the handling, and you are in for a bumpy ride. This system is very useful and does exactly what the developers said it would, ‘presents players with deep tactical choices and excellent replay-value.’
During my time in the career mode, which spans eleven seasons, I made full use of the variety of different car classes and events. Through the pick-up-and-play features of the Nintendo Switch, I regularly had a quick race or two at any opportunity. Because the races are over fairly quickly and the optional objectives are accessible and easy to follow, it never lost its appeal. The way the cars handle is superb, and I enjoyed building XP through quality car manoeuvring. It also presented just the right level of challenge, and the AI developed as the game went on. Very soon I was learning from the AI as to where shortcuts and racing lines were which is rarely the case in a racing title.
As I mentioned earlier, there is always the potential for a developer to be hindered when a game is reviewed long after its release. Outside of ‘AAA’ titles, I think it would be fair to say that many indie titles offering online multiplayer would see those numbers dwindle as time goes on. 18 months after release, and unfortunately, I rarely found anyone online to play with. Even with VooFoo Studios implementing cross-play multiplayer with both the Xbox One and PS4, it was very difficult to get a game. This is rather unfortunate as if I was reviewing this in late 2017, it would be a very different story.
As well as the online multiplayer, the worldwide leaderboards have taken a bit of a beating during its time since release, with many a top score registering as 1 second lap times. There is an issue here which has developed over time and could do with correcting.
My enjoyment of Mantis Burn Racing was not hindered by the lack of online multiplayer, mainly because there is so much available in the single-player and local multiplayer options. What I did find, and I feel it is of particular note, is that although the handling is excellent, it doesn’t quite feel like a car to drive. The car glides around the track as if it is hovering, and the ratio of car size to track width means it feels very much an arcade title.
I am a big fan of Mantis Burn Racing and with good reason. It looks superb, offers an extensive single-player career and is appropriately challenging. Although time has done nothing to age the game visually or where gameplay is concerned, unfortunately, the online multiplayer is almost non-existent. I wish I had had the opportunity to review it when it first released, but I am very much grateful to have been reminded of yet another gem on the Nintendo eShop. A small change in price to reflect the dwindling multiplayer would be well-received, but even at its current price, you would do well to find a better top-down racer in its class.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Mantis Burn Racing on the Nintendo eShop at the following link: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Mantis-Burn-Racing-1307815.html