Mantis Burn Racing brings the top-down racing genre back to life with its beautiful visuals and easy to learn controls. Released last year on other platforms, the game really shines on the Nintendo Switch. Read on to find out why.
Mantis Burn Racing was originally released towards the end of 2016 on other platforms, and was announced for the Nintendo Switch back in September. Unlike some ports, MBR has suffered little in the way of visual downgrades and still looks fantastic on Nintendo’s Hybrid console. Granted, it does lack 4K (available on the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X) but to be honest, that’s not a massive selling point. Especially when you can play on the go.
Initially, MBR doesn’t feel like it offers too much in terms of gameplay. With a number of different race types, you would be forgiven for thinking each race would feel repetitive after playing each mode a few times. While this is true for many games (and yes, even to an extent with Mantis Burn Racing) I found the difficulty range well balanced. Hard enough to pose a challenge but not too hard as to discourage me from continuing to play. With this in mind Mantis Burn Racing has become a title I keep returning too; aiming to take that corner just right or to use my opponents slipstream against them.
The single player campaign consists of three difficulty settings: rookie, pro and veteran, each with three seasons each. In each season players compete against the computer controlled vehicles in spotlight races, knockout contests and pure speed-fueled dashes for the finish line. Completing an event in the top three allows you to proceed, which feels like a godsend considering the difficulty of some of the races. It’s in these events that you can earn new upgrades for your vehicle as well as in-game currency
The games simple control scheme matches the Switch’s playstyle perfectly. Hand a JoyCon over to a friend and you’ve got instant local two-player. Using ZR to accelerate and the face buttons to boost and brake. It’s the simplicity of the controls which makes it accessible to a number of players and encourages those who may not be initially interested in the genre to give it a go, making it the perfect hit at gatherings and the like.
While the vehicles in Mantis Burn Racing have a number of upgrade options available, the tracks do seem to lack in variety. There’s a dusty desert type of area, a cityscape in the dark and a snowy, wintery design. these areas stretch acros the twelve tracks available and can get a little repetitive. Some of the darker areas of the courses can also be tricky to navigate, such as the caves in the desert areas, if you’re not concentrating on where you’re going. A minor gripe and something that could be rectified with a couple of DLC packs should VooHoo wish to follow this avenue.
In addition to the main career, there is also a top-down battle mode where players take control of weapon enabled hover vehicles. This mode adds the intensity of racing and besting your opponents with mine-dodging and machine guns. Repair stations can be found dotted around the track should you need to repair and causing your opponents to explode is immensely satisfying.
Following suit of Rocket League and Minecraft, VooHoo has enabled Mantis Burn Racing to connect to other versions of the game in cross-play. PC and Xbox One players can join in online for a larger community making for a much better gaming experience in my own opinion. The online lobbies work well and if you’re missing the maximum number of human players CPU characters can always be used to fill the gaps. A nice addition which tends to be lacking in modern games.
MBR also supports offline local play for up to four players as well as wireless local play for up to eight. Having tested only the table top co-op mode, I can attest that it works well, but the initial setup I found was awkward. Instead of the screens being side by side to be viewed at the same angle from both players, the game defaults to a kind of opposite one another setup, players need to literally sit on opposite ends of the switch console looking down on the screen. Luckily this can be turned off in the settings.
To conclude, Mantis Burn Racing is a solid entry into the genre of top-down racing games. It doesn’t quite offer enough in terms of level variety but that doesn’t stop it being a great game to play and isn’t something I hold against it. The online works well and cross-play is an added bonus – not to mention the way forward in my own opinion – and the local multiplayer provides the often coveted couch co-op that modern games tend to neglect. Not only does the game look good, it runs great in both docked and handheld mode and adapts perfectly to whatever gaming situation you find yourself in.