Mantis Burn Racing is a great throwback to old school titles from the Nintendo Entertainment System like the R.C. PRO AM games. Top down style racing games that aren’t reliant on amazing graphic qualities or over the top mechanics, just pure fun. The game itself takes elements of these older titles and adds a bunch of different gameplay mechanics that help propel it into a game worthy of 2018, couple this with the fact that it is on the Nintendo Switch and you have a great racing game on the perfect platform for it. Mantis Burn Racing is an awesome little title with its strengths being placed in the career mode which adds a great amount of depth and gameplay.
While the racing aspect of this game could be described as simplistic, the meat and potatoes of the game are in the details. Races are split (but not always) between 3 different vehicles that each have their own accompanying attributes. The light class which is really good at hugging the road and handling rough terrain (think a dune buggy), the medium class which would be similar to a stereotypical race car which grips the road well, and has a decent amount of speed and acceleration, and finally the heavy class which it lacks in suspension and acceleration but makes up for it in speed and grip. A lot of times your are forced to play a certain vehicle in the career mode, but there are a few different variations of the races where the game allows the player to choose their car of choice. There are a few other versions of cars that I was not able to purchase, that being the Elite hover cars, or the Battle cars that seemed like a lot of fun.
Once you have selected your car of choice, you can then upgrade your car. The great thing this game did was allow you to choose the upgrades you wanted in your car allowing you to build the machine of your choice. This comes in great depending on the playstyle you choose to go with. Particularly I am the kind of driver that tries to drive as smooth and as controlled as possible so I upgraded with increased suspension, and acceleration. Where as you could throw a lot of speed and boost into a car and totally just try to out run all of the competition. This level of detail in a racing game of this style is super important in making it a game that will keep your attention for a long time. As you have to work to get the upgrades you want for your cars, and also switch out upgrades if the car you currently have isn’t cutting it for the race you are trying to complete.
The career as I have stated before is where all the fun is to be had, and it is massive. There are 12 different seasons to compete in, that include a Rookie, Pro, Veteran, and Elite Circuit, as well as multiple paths you could take to complete each one. You could also go through and complete every mission in each season and be a completionist like I am, which has the added perk of unlocking extra upgrades. The fact that the career is so huge guarantees a TON of gameplay. In my 20 hours of playing I was only able to get to the 3rd season of the pro circuit, so it will take a long time to get everything and win everything in the game. There are several races where you will be doing every last little thing you can to ensure you come in first, because it’s tight and you’re not sure if you are going to win or not.
While simplistic and not overly detailed, I still think the graphics are great for that they are. As I have said before are not the most ground breaking in a racing game, but at the same time they don’t need to be. This game was designed for fun, it was made those who choose to play racing games to race. The environments are vibrant and detailed, with each race having its own unique feel. The cars themselves have a varying degree of customizability by changing the colors of the car you can make them feel like they are your own.
The texture detail is a little lax for what the switch can handle, but it’s a small detail that not many will put a lot of thought into while they are racing, as I usually found myself focusing on the race and not the details around me. The sound design as well is a little off putting at times. Every time you start a race you hear the same roaring engine sounds again and again, and it can become tedious to the ears. It would be great if each of the different motors in the cars sounded exponentially different.
The replayability of this game outside of the career mode would 100% be in the online or local game modes. This is a great title to play with friends on road trips or while you are waiting in line somewhere. The career for me is something I would avoid playing again, because at times it can feel like a grind when you’ve played the same map for the 10th time, and are trying to get yourself to the next season.
Mantis Burn Racing is a good call back to classic racing games that were purely about fun, and getting to the finish line. It doesn’t try to over complicate itself with a ridiculous car upgrading system like we see in many of today’s racing games, and it stays true to itself. While the graphics and sound design of the game are not quite up to the standard for what we are seeing on the Nintendo Switch right now, it’s definitely still a good looking little game and definitely worth the money if you are a fan of the racing genre.