Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch)

Racing games come in many forms and the Nintendo Switch has a couple of top notch racers of different varieties already. You’ve got the genre’s king in Mario Kart 8. You’ve got fast, frantic, futuristic racing in Fast RMX. You’ve got more realistic style racing in Gear.Club Unlimited. Joining the ever-growing cast of racing games on the system is Mantis Burn Racing from Voofoo Studios, a game that’s been out now for a little while on other platforms such as PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Mantis Burn 1My love of top down, arcade racers goes all the way back to the arcades and the NES with Ironman Stewart’s Super Off-Road. I’ve been playing them for as long as I can remember.  The premise of the game is actually pretty simple. You race around a track from a top down perspective against a number of other racers, either AI controlled or played by a human. The ZR button controls your acceleration and the ZL button controls your brake. Aside from that you have an emergency brake and a boost button. That’s about it for the controls. There are motion controls, but I didn’t find those to work as well as I would have liked. Most races involve simply getting around the track faster than the other racers, but there are other modes of play as well.

The single player portion of the game is primarily laid out in a linear career fashion. You enter one race. As long as you meet the conditions for winning the event you move on to the next one. You’ll start out in pretty easy races, but as you progress races become more difficult and more intense as you level up and the competition gets more fierce. Races come in a few different varieties. You have standard races, which are usually two or three laps in length. You can race in leagues, which consists of multiple races where your finishing place earns you points towards a final goal. Knockout races last until there are no competitors left, with the person in last place on each lap being eliminated from the race. Spotlight races force you to stay inside a light on the track and time trials just want to see how fast you can go when you’re on the track by yourself.

Mantis Burn 2Performing well in races and doing various things in races will earn you XP and money. You can gain this experience by performing long drifts, jumping long distances during races, destroying objects scattered alongside the race, and more. This XP and cash will allow you to upgrade your car. Each car has a set number of upgrade slots and these upgrades allow you better performance and speed during races. Each race also has bonus objectives that you use to earn gears. Acquiring these gears allows you to access more and more of the career as you progress. There will sometimes be branching paths to the career that require you to have acquired a particular number of gears to unlock. These additional objectives can sometimes be completed by simply racing while others will require you to really go out of your way to complete them as you also attempt to win the race.

There are a number of different car types that range from light, fast cars to heavy, durable cars that can take lots of punishment to cars that hover off the ground or even have weapons you can use to take out other racers.

The biggest flaw the game has really is the lack of distinct tracks available to race on. There are about 12 tracks to race on, but they’re built on the same three environments and cover much of the same area. Once you’ve seen the three different environments for tracks you’ve essentially seen all the different content there is to race on. Some of the tracks will expand the race area somewhat, but you’re going to be racing across familiar ground a lot.

Mantis Burn 3Online works pretty well. Many of the single player options for racing are available on line. Things move around quickly, but finding matches can be tough. I was never able to get into a full eight player match at any point, even with players on other consoles, as the game does support cross-platform play. This can be turned off if you wish, but having a larger base of players to race against will make it easier to get into a game. The Switch version of the game comes with all the previous DLC included so playing against other players on the Switch will keep you from running into compatibility issues that other systems might have if players don’t have the DLC tracks.

Here’s the thing. When it comes down to it the racing is solid. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s fluid. The lack of different tracks is a bit of a letdown, but the racing itself was a lot of fun. You’re going to probably get the most out of the game if you have a group of friends that you can play with, but even as a single player game there is a ton of racing here to experience that comes in a variety of different styles to suite different types of play. It fits very well on the Switch due to the portable nature of the system and the quick in and out racing.

Three Stars

Review copy of the game provided by Voofoo Studios
Played through most of the single player career, a few online races.  

Total Play Time: 20 hours

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