The top-down racer used to be a major staple of racing games but as gaming systems became more powerful the genre became dormant. Over recent years though, we have seen something of a resurgence with the return of Micro Machines and the (disappointing) Rock ‘N’ Racing games. One game joining this top-down revival is Mantis Burn Racing. The debut racer from indie developer VooFoo Studios has already been a success on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but how will its move to Nintendo’s new system play out?
Despite the Switch not having the same sort of graphical horsepower as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the game looks just as good as it did before. The thing that really makes the visuals pop in Mantis Burn Racing are the gorgeous tracks. Rocks, dirt, buildings, trees, and everything else on the circuits look spot-on and incredibly realistic. While the circuits look great, the same can’t be said about the cars that you drive. Each league has three vehicles available, light, medium, and heavy. None of these are licensed and are the creation of the design team but it has to be said that they are quite bland.
The vehicles may be a bit drab but the racing certainly isn’t. The handling model is great, with power slides the order of the day. Your drifts are easy to control whether you’re faced with tight turns or long shallow curves. Controls are responsive, helping you to always feel at one with your car. The three different types of vehicle are noticeably different in their handling and the way they interact with obstacles, barriers, and your fellow competitors.
When I reviewed the game at launch on Xbox One, one of my biggest complaints was that the game just wasn’t hard enough. I could easily win every race and achieve every objective (there are three in each race) without ever using boost. This issue was eventually fixed through DLC that is thankfully included at launch on Switch. The game feels like a complete package now with a level of challenge for even the most accomplished racers. There are well over 150 events, a lot of which are multiple race events, meaning that Mantis Burn Racing will keep completionists busy for many weeks and months to come.
As well as a huge single-player campaign, there’s also an array of multiplayer options. Alongside the standard local and wireless multiplayer options, there’s also cross-platform multiplayer. Switch owners are able to face off against gamers on Xbox One and Steam. Even with this wider player base, I did sometimes find it tricky to get a match but when I did there was no lag and it played as well as it does offline. There are also online weekly challenges that will set you a particular objective (lap time, distance covered, etc.) and then rank you against other players.
Mantis Burn Racing was an OK racer on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that became a good racer through the release of DLC. On Switch, the game comes as a complete package and is all the better for it. It feels right at home on the console with both handheld and docked modes providing fantastic racing. With great multiplayer and a wealth of singleplayer content, this is a game that will keep you coming back for a long time to come. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe may well still be the best racing game on the system but Mantis Burn Racing comes a close second and well ahead of any other racers out there.