Mad Dash Racing
On a far off island, a crazed wizard has delusions of taking over the world. To accomplish his world domination, he needs to collect the red meteor chunks that are scattered across the world. But another person steps in the mix and... wait a sec, none of this really matters so why the hell I am wasting my time and yours rehashing the silly 'back story'? of the game? Forget all of this nonsense and lace up your running shoes because this Xbox launch title is not quite like any other racing game you have played before.
Have you ever played Mario Kart? Diddy Kong Racing? Crash Team Racing? Any other game that has Kart in the title? If so, that is the closest genre I can draw comparisons to, but labeling it as a Kart game is not quite right either. It is best described as a cross between a Kart game, snowboarding game, skateboarding game, adventure game and fighting game. Sounds like a heavy dose of ambition and, unfortunately, that is one of the down sides to game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The core of the game is racing, as the main goal is to finish first. Unlike other racing games, making it to the finish line in first place is not as simple as just pointing yourself in one direction, navigating a few turns and being home free. For one, none of the nine racers are in any sort of vehicle. This is a foot race (a la the 'Dash'? in the title). Then again, calling it a foot race is not quite right either because you do not just run. You will slide, glide, swim, jump and climb all throughout the course of a single race.
There are three different classes of racers you can choose from, each with distinct advantages. You can choose a basher, dasher or glider. A basher can break through walls to access alternate routes that others cannot access. Dashers can go up steep slopes that others cannot climb, which gives them access to alternate paths. Gliders can do as the name implies -- glide. By gliding, they can reach areas others cannot, as well as fly over some land-based obstacles. I really felt these classes were well balanced and each had ample opportunity throughout the course of a race to use their special skills.
Where the Kart racing aspect comes in to play is the various pick-ups scattered across the tracks. You can pick up a number of projectiles to shoot at the other racers, very similar to Kart racers. One nice touch is that you only have the ability to carry one power-up at a time so you will be constantly using them as you get them. You will also come across green meteor chucks. If you collect 10 green meteor chunks, you become Tribrid and can use all three of the special skills (basher, dasher or glider). The final power-up you will find is Hex-a-Cola which regenerates your juice bar allowing you to use your special skill.
The game also has a trick system that, frankly, I don't know how anyone will ever have an opportunity to use during a race. You can pull off tricks that also fill up your juice bar, but the only time I did them was unintentional. There are things that are not considered tricks that will help you win races, like rail slides, but doing tricks just seemed a bit much. This leads me to my biggest complaint with the game.
This game is fast. Too fast. There is so much happening during a race that I felt out of control more than in control. Sometimes being on the edge of recklessness is a good thing if used sparingly, but the rare moments occurred when I was actually under control. I never really felt like I was racing against other racers. I felt like I was racing against myself. The power-up weapons were effective but I never really knew that I was in the correct position to use them. I would just launch them and hope for the best. This really took away the satisfaction of taking out my opponent because I figured it to be more luck than skill.
The other gripe I have about the game was the competition level. This game seemed to use the "never too far ahead or too far behind" school of racing. I could fall off a platform 10 times in a row and still catch back up. Conversely, I could run a near perfect race and the second place racer would finish on my heels. I just don't like games that do this. I feel like I am penalized for being good. I don't mind losing by a large margin if I am stinking it up, so let me get my ass kicked and let me kick ass. I don't want it to be fair all the time.
Mad Dash Racing supports up to four players via split screen. Like most games, it is much more fun racing against three of your closest friends. Plus, they will be just as reckless as you, so unlike the computer players being in control, the playing field is even. I play on a 53'? TV and even on a TV this size, with the amount of stuff that happens during a race, it is difficult to play on split screen (more than two players). Still, if nobody is playing to be competitive (gaming just for fun? Blasphemy!), this is a good one to pull out just for the fun of it.
The Xbox sure has some stunning looking games and this is no exception. The game is very bright and colorful and very detailed. There are rare instances of slowdown that is hardly noticeable but other than that, it is rock solid. They did a great job with the different racers as well as the variety in the tracks. Every track has so many different routes to the finish line that it is just amazing. While the graphics are a completely different style than Halo or DOA 3, this would be the game I would pop in to show off my system after those two.
The game features very cartoon-like sound effects that are very fitting. The character voices are well done, although some are a tad annoying after time. A decent soundtrack also keeps the adrenaline pumping through the races.
This is a surprisingly solid title that is a lot of fun. I just wish there was not so much going on all the time because I really felt out of control through the majority of the races. It just seemed like this game was made in Hollywood, where more is better. That is not always the case in videogames. But aside from this, I still had a great time playing, and winning races was satisfying. This game is not going to get the hype of the bigger Xbox titles but it is definitely worth a weekend rental to decide if it is for you.