Sound familiar? Look familiar, even? The latest in a growing trend of tribute games, Motocross Mania is clearly a fairly blatant copy of Microsoft's Motocross Madness, right down to the mental illness-related title (soon to be followed by Motocross Psychosis and Motocross Schizophrenia).
Fans of the genre may remember a game of minor repute that we reviewed more than a year ago, namely Edgar Torrenteras' Extreme Biker.
The young Spanish daredevil's endorsement failed to excite the general public, and it largely disappeared without trace. From the same developer - Deibus Studios - Motocross Mania is essentially the same game but with a year's additional work and some new tracks. The major difference is the removal of the gimmicky ideas of the former - such as riding over aircraft - in favour of more orthodox racing. Four different event types are included, namely traditional Motocross, stadium-based Supercross, off-road Baja and a Freestyle stunt section. Exactly like Motocross Madness then. Employing a slightly more arcadey riding model than its 'inspiration', Mania is certainly playable and there are enough tracks and events to keep the enthusiast busy. It's by no means a simulation, and some unlikely landings can be made, although there is still opportunity for being tossed around like the proverbial rag doll.
With the detail cranked up (you'll need a decent machine) it certainly looks the part, although the throaty roar of motocross hasn't been fully captured, coming across more like a kazoo orchestra. While it's a perfectly adequate game and good fun to boot, the major problem it has is that Motocross Madness 1 and 2are slightly better. For maniacs only.
Download Motocross Mania
Okay, call me a cynic, but anytime a new video game makes its debut for a console at nearly one-third the retail price of the norm, the proverbial red flag immediately goes up. Consequently, when I was handed Take-Two Interactive’s budgeted-priced Motocross Mania for evaluation, I thought to myself, "This game has "disaster" written all over it." On the other hand, its recently released PC cousin, which featured decent graphics and gameplay, turned out to be a fun little arcade racing game. So with an attempt to brush all preconceived biases aside, I peeled off the shrink-wrap and slapped this sucker into my PSX.
Advertised as a fast-paced arcade game featuring a wide range of environments and death-defying stunts, Motocross Mania allows the gamer to compete in single events, multiplayer battles, competitive tournaments, and time trials. Choose from a variety of tracks, including mud, ice, and sand -- each affecting the handling of the bike.
Considering the overabundance of motocross games currently available, an obvious question lingers -- even with its low price tag of $9.99, does Motocross Mania have enough to compete with the other high-profile motocross games already on the market? See below for all the "dirt."
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Once you’re at the main menu, you can choose from several different games modes or access the options screen. Game modes include Quick Race, Single Event, Championship, and a Versus Mode where you can challenge a friend in two-player competition. During the Single Event, you can choose from three types of racing: Motocross, Supercross and freestyle. Select a track and then select from Practice, Race or Time Attack. In Championship Mode, grind your way through an entire series of races. Earn money to upgrade your bike, unlock new tracks, and gain access to new bikes.
The game allows you to choose between a set of predefined controller setups or you can choose to devise your own button configuration. You can also adjust several different race characteristics, such as the number of laps, number of opponents and free roaming vs. enclosed tracks. Visit the garage in order to fine-tune your bike to suit different tracks and your own riding style.
Once on the track, control of your bike is rather basic -- hit the throttle and steer your bike; that pretty much sums it up. Staying on your bike and racing competitively, however, is another story. Be prepared for a severe lesson in frustration, to say the least. Compared to previous motocross games, I found the control scheme to be unnecessarily difficult. While you can pitch and angle your bike as you negotiate the jumps, if you don’t land perfectly straight, far too many times, you’ll be eating some major dirt. Furthermore, performing the various stunts may look cool, but they only make landing your bike all the more frustrating. And I’m not quite sure if it’s me, but no matter how much I tried to keep up with the CPU opponents (even when I wasn’t on my can), they would consistently pass me by at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, even after several visits to the garage and trying different controller configurations, things didn’t get much better. Can a really skilled gamer overcome these flaws? Maybe so, but it’s gonna take some serious time and effort. My guess is, the average gamer will not find enough in this game (eye-candy or otherwise) to justify doing so.
The graphics in the game go from disappointing to downright awful. Bike models and riders are rather blocky and grainy, even by PlayStation standards. Trackside graphics are average at best (for this game, that might be a good thing). The frame rate varies from track to track. Sadly, that variation usually goes from choppy to choppiest, depending on the number of bikers on screen at any one time.
The musical score consists of the obligatory assortment of rock tunes customary for this type of game. Sounds effects include the expected whining of bikes and various yelps from the riders. You won’t find anything extraordinary here, but you won’t necessarily find anything to dislike either.
When all is said and done, I find it extremely difficult to recommend this game to even the most fanatical of motocross gamers. If you are one of those people who absolutely has to have every PSX motocross game in your library (are there really people like that out there?), I suppose the price-point won’t break your bank. However, for everyone else, hear this: "Do not bite on this puppy." Hey, for ten bucks, go buy yourself some lunch. It’ll certainly be a lot easier to swallow!