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Mantis Burn Racing

is a modern top-down style racing game that combines physics-based gameplay with intuitive arcade racing in highly competitive, fast and addictive races. Prove your... read more

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch)

Author: Franz Aebischer
05-Dec-2017

Category: Review

Time to get together and race like never before. Mantis Burn Racing will have you on your toes as you compete in this glorious top-down arcade racer. From the many lush environments to the extensive upgrade system, you're in for one intense racing event!

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch)

Introduction

Get ready for some serious racing action at Mantis Burn! Mantis Burn Racing is the ultimate top-down arcade racer for Switch. From the fun and easy to set up multiplayer to the interesting upgrade system and in-depth career mode, VooFoo Studios' racer has plenty to offer.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Street Race
Mantis Burn Racing is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99.

Story

In Mantis Burn Racing, there isn't really much of a narrative, and there doesn't need to be. This is a fun and simple straight to the point racing game and I like that. What little narrative that is here though seems to be that there is some sort of racing tournament/event going on called Mantis Burn and you are here to race and compete to your heart's content across many race tracks.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Guide Me
Along with that little bit of info, you also are told a lot of other information regarding the event and game from a mechanic character. This mechanic character shows up quite frequently and would be the most narrative-driven thing in the game who mostly explains to you how the game works. For the story that's about it and that's fine, now's your cue to dive into the action and get off to the races!

Gameplay

The gameplay of Mantis Burn Racing has you racing from a top-down angle across many different modes and race types. The controls mainly have you using the left stick or motion controls to steer and ZR/SR and ZL/SL to accelerate and brake/reverse. You also have a boost that you can use with the A button when it's filled up. Pretty standard but it works very well and it's quite satisfying to control your car and drive around in this game. Along with the standard camera settings you also have a few other options you can use such as static and dynamic if you prefer that over the camera always being right behind you.

The main mechanics of the actual racing involves the standard racing format of speeding around the track to win (or variations on it depending on the type of race) and dodging obstacles/staying on the track and more, however, this game is mainly skill based as opposed to something such as Mario Kart. In most race events, there is mainly just the track and no items. You have a boost to work with that charges up while pulling off techniques like drifts during a race but that's about it. As a substitute, there are tons of game mechanics to work with to help you speed past the competition such as drafting, drifting, shortcuts, and a few others. These were all very well done and make the racing as fun and intense as it is.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Close Together
As this is a racing game, there are quite a few vehicles in this game. Each vehicle falls under one of the many classes. All of these classes have different traits and three cars each of different weight classes (light, medium, and heavy). The main classes, Rookie, Pro, and Veteran are pretty standard cars which change a bit with each iteration starting from Rookie, while the other classes, Elite and Battle, are quite different from standard cars. Elite has cars that can hover and go very fast, while Battle has vehicles that have large guns on them and have mine placing capabilities. Each of these cars is different and fun in its own way and they shape the game well.

You'll be racing on all sorts of race tracks in this game, from the heated deserts to the bustle of the city to the frozen mountains. There are 12 unique tracks in all and each falls under one of these themes. There are also reverse tracks in this which has you driving the reverse way to make for a bit of a different experience per track. All of these 12 tracks were quite different and gave me a unique vibe for each one and the track design was overall very well done. Each track also has online leaderboards for best lap times so learning to master the tracks is key if you wish to compete with others. The overall selection of tracks was pretty great but more themes would've also been nice.

In this game, there are quite a few race types for you to compete in. Of course, you have the standard three-lap race which a lot of racing games follow but there are many more unique play types beyond that. Some of the event types such as Sprint and Endurance just change the number of laps in a standard race, while others like Spotlight and Survival have crazier objectives like challenging you to stay in a spotlight scrolling around the map to stay in the race or driving as far as you can without getting blown up to be the last one standing. Other modes include Time Out which has you pass checkpoints to earn time and have the most time by when the timer runs out, Knockout which has the player in last place be eliminated at the end of a lap until only the winner remains, Accumulator which has you earning points (the person the furthest ahead in the race earns the most points) and the first person to reach 10,000 points wins, Overtake which has you overtaking 10 cars as fast as you can to be the winner, Time Trial which has you trying to get the best lap time out of everyone else, and Hot Lap which has you doing the same thing as Time Trial but under a limited time period. There are also the Battle event types which were the aforementioned Survival, as well as King of the Track which randomly gives players a crown and challenges you to earn points by doing laps with the crown on while dodging everyone else's attacks on you. The Battle event types are of course exclusive to the Battle cars, while every other race type is open to every car but the Battle class. In the Career, there are also Race Leagues which combine several races into one long event. All of these events are accessible across most modes and some will be quite different in Career than in the multiplayer modes but the main ideas for them will still be there. All of these modes have their own unique ideas and appeals and most were very fun to play. Especially some of the more bizarre ones like Spotlight and the Battles race types, which were the most fun to go back to.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Leading the Pack
There are four play modes in this game. In the singleplayer Career mode, there are many challenges and seasons to take on which also unlock upgrades for you. There are 11 seasons total across every class in the game. Each mission in Career mode has you competing in many racing events to become the champion and unlock other upgrades and such for other modes. The missions have you playing a specific event type and meeting certain goals to earn gears which are used to unlock more missions later on. This mode was very fun and helped with improving skill and unlocking more items for upgrades to overall improve your racing experience across all modes.

Along with the main Career mode, there are also several other multiplayer modes in the game which include Local, Online, and Wireless. In the local mode, you can play with up to four players on one system with split-screen play, and with two players there is even a handheld exclusive tabletop mode which was a cool addition. One gripe I have with this mode is that the three player split-screen makes the screens quite narrow, so more options like screen arrangement would've been nice. Then you have the Online mode, which allows you to play with anyone you want through the Switch's online service. This mode even has cross play with Xbox One and PC which was awesome and quite unexpected. Finally, there is also an included wireless mode if you ever want to play this game across multiple systems locally. Both the Online and Wireless Race options support up to 8 players, and in any of the multiplayer modes, you also have the choice to include any AI Drivers. These multiplayer modes have lots to offer and are definitely the other areas where the game shines. The blend of playing Career to earn upgrades and improve yourself and then switching over to the multiplayer modes was a great aspect and I loved how these complimented each other. There are also weekly challenges which add to the re-playability if this sort of thing is up your alley.

As you play through any mode in the game, whether that be Career, or Online Play or anything else, as long as you're not using a loan car (a car you haven't unlocked yet) you gain XP which allows you to level up as you earn more. You get XP for finishing races (higher XP depending on your finishing position) in general as well as for doing techniques while racing such as the previously mentioned drafting, drifting, etc. Along with XP, you also get plenty of G which is the currency in this game which allows you to buy/upgrade in the garage. You get this currency when you play the career mode and meet certain requirements, and 
you also earn G every time you get enough XP to level up.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Chaos at its Finest
While you're racing in any mode in this game, you'll get all sorts of little pop-ups at the top of the screen letting you know how good you're pulling off techniques, how good you're doing in terms of lap times and in comparison to your rivals, and how much XP you're earning (you get more depending on how good you pull off a technique, example: Great Drift gives you 10 XP and Amazing Drift gives you 20 XP). These XP messages really help guide you into making you a better player and were well implemented. While racing anywhere, these were a big key in helping me beat my times and improve myself as a racer overall.

The upgrade system in this game is very rich. There are quite a few types of upgrades ranging from boost to engine upgrades and there are many ways to customize these. You do the upgrading through the garage where you can also change some of the colour designs of your cars. How these upgrades work is as you level up and play Career, you earn upgrades which you can apply to cars in the garage. Each upgrade changes your car in some way like how an engine upgrade will improve your top speed, but it is also recommended to balance your upgrades as well. Once you take up all of your upgrade slots on a car, you can even pay a bit of G to level up your car which gives you many more slots while changing the appearance of your car a tad. Going beyond that, once you hit max level, you can even rank up individual upgrades for an expensive fee which can be super effective. All of this depth to the upgrade system was great and it really made me feel accomplished when I earned enough to transform a car for the better. Very cool system and driving with upgraded cars never felt better.

The performance of the game was amazing, with the game looking and playing well in both Handheld and Docked modes of the Switch. The game mostly ran really smooth, despite the occasional minor stuttering that happened at times in areas such as forests with lots of trees, but these weren't that noticeable or frequent.

Overall, the gameplay experience of Mantis Burn Racing is an incredible top-down arcade racing package and it was presented well. The way each mode complimented the other with the use of leveling up and upgrading was genius and really added to the overall experience.

Presentation

The sound design of Mantis Burn Racing was pretty spot on. All of the sound effects such as the engine noises from the vehicles sound real enough and satisfy in just the right ways. The music was also quite the excellent racing soundtrack with a great selection of songs that fit the mood of the racetrack and the actual race in every case.

Mantis Burn Racing Review (Switch) - Cave of Explosions
As for visuals, this game looks fantastic. The game is very sharp in both handheld and docked mode and looks great all around. Most textures were of high quality and were very appealing to the eye. Where things really shine are the racetracks themselves. Each race track looks gorgeous. Scenes like driving through an icy cavern or through the forest as the sun sets really couldn't have happened without these beautiful set pieces and lighting effects. These graphics helped a lot with getting immersed in the experience and was definitely a big plus of the game.

Conclusion

Overall, Mantis Burn Racing definitely is a gem on the eShop and I highly recommend this to anyone who likes racing games, especially top-down ones. With how this genre has almost gone extinct, this was an excellent showcase of the fun it still has to offer even in this day and age. There is so much here, from the extensive and rewarding Career mode to the multiplayer modes with lots of replayability, you won't regret your purchase. The gorgeous set pieces and wonderful map and car designs really enhance the experience and make this a tournament you won't forget. Along with the fantastic upgrade system, you certainly will have a blast. There are a few minor problems here and there but they are far overshadowed by everything else and you can really tell that a lot of effort went into this project.

PROS
CONS
+ Incredible top-down racing gameplay- Multiplayer could use some tweaking
+ Rich upgrade system- Can get choppy at times
+ Many fun race types
+ Great singleplayer and multiplayer experience


SCORE: 8.5/10

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