Let's Get one thing straight: Mashed eats, sweats and bleeds fun. It has fun-flakes for breakfast and injects laughjuice straight into its comically throbbing veins. It's pretty much assured to produce fits of laughter in those who play it, and absolutely drips that one-more-go' factor that every game secretly aspires to. Indeed, it's one of the most purely playable arcade-style racers to come along in years.
Now, you might be thinking these statements don't exactly gel with the score in the opposite corner, and you'd be right. There are good reasons for this - or rather, one prevailing reason -but we'll get to that shortly. For starters, let's see what's so damn funny in the first place.
To put it simply, Mashed is Micro Machines gone nasty. There's the same isometric perspective, the same teeny cars and the same over-the-top track design. It's all at normal scale, so you won't find any races set on billiard tables or bathroom tiles, but the principle is the same. The difference is that it's about 20 times more intense, thanks to a clutch of evil weapons and a ruthless elimination system.
Here's how it works. You've got between two and four cars on the track, and the camera zooms in and out to keep you all visible - but only to a point. Fall behind the leader too much and you get an exclamation point flashing over your head, which means you have about two seconds to catch up or you explode.
Once the second-last car is eliminated, the winner is awarded some points and the race begins anew, picking up wherever the previous race finished.
Further spice is added to the mix with the addition of the so-called Air-Strike system, which enables dead players to exact vengeance by launching guided missiles at the remaining contenders. It's not easy to get a lock, but the beauty is that even your hovenng crosshairs can be enough to break a player's nerve and send him sailing over a cliff.
As you can see, Mashed is about as simple as a game can get. The reason it's so much fun is because it's a perfectly catalyst for pettiness, sprte and malice as you gleefully crash, smash and bomb your way to victory. (That, and the fact that each round only lasts around 20 or 30 seconds, meaning you never have a chance to become linely frustrated.)
It also helps that the 13 tracks are well designed and varied, with plenty of well-implemented Dick Dastardly-style power-ups. These include oil slicks, flamethrowers, mines and barrel tombs - the only real dud being ridiculous blinding flare that hampers the person who fired it as much as everyone else.
Inevitably, there are some niggles, foremost being the wildly zooming and tilting camera. It usually does a good job of keeping up with the racers, but all too often it leaves you driving blind, which is especially felt - and especially unjust - when you're way out Kent.
A Single Problem
The game is also stupidly unforgiving at times, with a missed turbo-start or slight brush against a wall effectively putting you out of contention. This is particularly irking given the game's light and breezy arcade stylings.
Saying that, most of these complaints are fleeting - the pace of the game is such that you rarely have time to linger on any perceived injustice, and all things considered, Mashed is pretty much, well... Great.
Hang on a sec though - surely it can't be that simple. There must be something we've overlooked... Something, something... Ah, of course: it's a console game! It's designed to be played on a couch in front of a TV, and what's more, it's extremely boring in single-player mode. Even with two players Mashed is pretty dull. In fact, the game only truly comes into its own when you have a group of three or four rowdy, vindictive mates shoving, shouting abuse and crying in despair when you nudge them off the track. And like it or not, that's never going to happen on a PC. (And before you ask, no, there's no online or LAN-play.) Like Micro Machines and countless other games before it, this is Mashed's ultimate downfall. We've included a handy cut-out-and-burn guide to getting a Mashed session up and running at home (see Why Consoles Were Invented', above), but think you'll find there's only one conclusion: this game has no business on the PC. Which is a shame, as otherwise it's an enjoyable, cut-throat little racer.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP