There’s something about Motocross Madness that makes it very hard to put down. It may be due to its charming aesthetic, or maybe it’s the tight gameplay that feels awesome, or perhaps it’s the vast array of options that are presented to you. Whatever it may be, the game is awfully fun and is one of 2013’s stronger XBLA releases.
You may remember Motocross Madness from the 90’s, as that’s where it first made its appearance, as a PC game published by Microsoft. It earned favourable reviews but once the game’s developer Rainbow was acquired by THQ, the IP kind of disappeared. Now, someone has decided to resurrect it with a newly revamped XBLA version.
Full of charm and a personality of its own, the avatar-based racing game offers a lot for you to do upon booting it up. We suggest starting in career mode though, where you’ll be treated to a quick tutorial before earning your license. From there, things really open up as you’re presented with four types of matches to play (Race, Rivals, Exploration and Trick Session).
Race is, of course, your standard race, where you compete against seven other people and hope to capture first place. Rivals is basically a time trials mode where you compete against developer ghosts and leaderboard times. Exploration has you driving around the course picking up hidden items and Trick Session has you competing to see who can score the most points. Each mode offers you XP too which you can use to level up your character, unlock upgrades and new bikes and outfit your avatar with new gear.
The career mode also includes a feature called Bike Club, it is here that you’ll find challenges and tasks set out for you and the people on your friends list. Anyone on your friends list who plays the game is automatically included in your club. Tasks are things that needed to be completed as a group, such as total mileage driven, while challenges will have you trying to beat your friend’s scores in certain events. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it does add a welcome social element to the game and also increases the replay value a bit.
Unfortunately, there’s only three locations to choose from when it comes to playing the game. You’ll get Iceland, Egypt and Australia and though each one is incredibly different and well designed, it would have been much appreciated to get a few more locations.
Sure, you can play different game modes on each of the maps, and the scenery does change depending on which event/game mode you’re playing, but still, it’s the same three locations that you’ll be spending your time on.
That being said, each location is pretty big and includes multiple routes to take in order to get to the finish line. You don’t have to follow the same path each time, so feel free to explore a bit if you wish. There’s a quite a bit of leeway here.
All in all, the career mode is well worth your time and has a good amount of depth to it. The XP system provides incentive to keep going through the events and upgrading your bike and gear should keep you occupied for a while. Plus, there’s the Avatar Famestar program built in here, if that kind of thing interests you. Admittedly, competing in event after event can get a bit repetitive after a while but it’s still hard to deny the fun that can be had here.
Luckily, the game has a multiplayer component to keep things from getting stale. Either local or online, you can race and compete against your friends in the various game modes. Multiplayer lobbies aren’t too populated at the current time, unfortunately, but if you find a match it’s a ton of fun.
Of course, a dirt bike game would be nothing without its controls and luckily, Motocross Madness handles quite well. You use the right trigger to activate the gas and the “A” button to give you a speed boost. You’ll collect fuel to give you more boost as you drive throughout the course and the trick system is easy to learn but also presents some difficulty to master.
You can pull off tricks in three different ways. The left thumbstick controls what trick you do, based on which direction you move it in, and the button you press determines the trick type. X is for simple tricks, Y for more complicated tricks and LB/RB for whip tricks. Things can get even deeper and more complicated from there as well, as you progress through the campaign you’ll unlock different types of tricks and trick modifications. But when it comes to the basics for pulling off tricks, that’s how you do it.
Be careful though, hold your trick too long and you’ll bail pretty hard. Some of the crashes in the game are pretty spectacular, and amusing to watch. Luckily, the game will put you right back where you were before the crash (or close too it) when this happen, so you won’t lose much time or progress.
Admittedly, there are some minor bugs like collision issues, clipping and awkward bounces/movements but it’s all minmal at best and overall, the pick up and play gameplay is smooth and focused, offering a thrilling motorbike experience that is always enjoyable.
Overall, Motocross Madness is a cute little avatar-based racer that provides easy, pick up and play gameplay that is both addictive and appealing. It’s not the greatest game out there, and playing for too long may induce feelings of repetition, but for what it is, it offers ample amounts of fun and is well worth the $10.
This review is based on the XBOX 360 version of the game.
Motocross Madness is a great title for those looking for some easy, pick up and play motorbike racing. It's not perfect, but the game provides enough enjoyment to justify the $10 price tag.