Evoking memories of 16-bit classic Micro Machines and Dreamcast hit Re-Volt in your store description is one way to grab my attention. I’m not one for serious racers but I do like a good arcade racer from time to time, so when D6 Team kicked things off by naming these games, my interest was piqued.
The problem is, well, almost everything about Mini Madness; the driving feels awful, the visuals are bland as all hell, and the course design is boring at best. That’s without some of the most mind-numbingly tedious and generic ‘rock’ music that plays constantly, fiddly menus, and a weapons that don’t so much lack impact as lack any sort of feel at all.
Racing small, remote controlled cars around a home-based setting is always interesting and fun, with the aforementioned Micro Machines nailing the feel of this premise back in the 90’s. Weaving in and out of scattered stationary, tableware, or garden ornaments gave a larger than life feel to the action. The same with Re-Volt; while the cars were bigger here, the use of whole houses and neighbourhoods gave that game some life as we traversed streets and alleyways during the race.
Somehow Mini Madness takes this concept and misses the mark entirely. The home based settings are mere backdrops, with the tracks laid out in a manner similar to something like Hot Wheels rather than using everyday objects and crayon markings to define a course. Sure, it’s a style choice but it’s more the implementation that brings it down here. There is zero excitement or interest during the races at all. We just follow some uninterestingly laid out colour track, with the occasional use of furniture to link a few sections together. There are simple background elements that try to provide something akin to action, such as a flying police drone, but it’s all too little to provide anything worthwhile.
Our car bounces around the track using some of the worst feeling physics and driving mechanics I’ve ever used. Even a small jump has the potential to cause us to flip and flop all over the place, but even when the wheels are on the ground things are just as dull to partake in. A ‘boost’ of sorts is available, but without some expensive upgrades it’s all but useless. Other upgrades can be purchased in the store with in game earned currency but for my money these are either too expensive or the cash is doled out too slowly.
Outside of the main Championship mode we have single race, time trial, and challenges. These latter almost have something to them; dotted around the tracks are a handful of stars and a secret area to find as quickly as possible. In theory this encourages exploration and offers more than just simple racing. In practice, the same boring driving lets the side down as we wrestle with the car to go where we want it to. Not only that, but I spent far too long on one course trying to find the third star only to spot it in an area I literally couldn’t yet reach because I hadn’t gotten the required upgrade, meaning I would have to collect the other two again later on as well (spoiler: this is unlikely to happen).
Local multiplayer features too, but I’m not sure this would even last the three laps before a game change request would be raised. The racing is dull, but even the promise of Mario Kart-style power-ups won’t be enough to save the day. They all have the weakest feeling impact we could imagine, and are bland enough to make it hard to tell what they will even do before we use them. Sure, a gun turret might fire, but how effective it’ll be is as much guesswork as anything.
Sadly, Mini Madness utterly squanders any sort of promise it may have had with dull driving icing the cake of boring track design, terrible music, and shoddy UI and modes. Even those looking for a simple racer to last an evening will likely turn this off after only a handful of races.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.