There’s an abundance of racing games nowadays, and all of them have their own style and niche that helps them appeal to their respective fan bases. What sets Motocross Madness apart from the rest of the pack is the zaniness of each track, trick, and race, and the end result is a downloadable game that manages to be just as much fun as many had hoped. That said, there are a few issues that keep this title from being a must-have experience on the Xbox Live Arcade, but overall it’s something that almost any gamer can jump into and have fun doing so.
For those who didn’t know, Motocross Madness started from humble beginnings on the PC, but it’s been a few years since the franchise has reared its helmet toting head. This iteration, while staying true to the original’s concept, features an entirely different look compared to its predecessors. This new aesthetic comes from Microsoft‘s desire to throw players’ Xbox Avatars into the fray, but the inclusion of such a cartoony breed of racers actually just adds to the wackiness of the game itself.
There are a total of nine different courses featured in Motocross Madness, and they are divided into three separate areas. Each of the three areas in question take place in a unique environment — allowing for a little visual diversity when it comes to each track — and they consist of an Egyptian desert, an flushed out forest, and a snow-covered Iceland mountainside. All of these are fairly typical for a racing game, but the layout of each track makes a majority of them memorable.
Along with standard races are several other offerings that are available to users. Players can race against ghost times in an attempt to score a coveted gold medal, and that quest will take them across all nine of the game’s tracks. Meanwhile, an exploration mode throws players into an open-world sandbox that spans each of the three environments that the race tracks are hosted on. These courses are absolutely loaded with coins and other collectibles that give users a medley of new content, and medals are given away based on how many collectibles are gathered in total.
If those weren’t enough, then daredevils will be delighted by an unlockable mode that focuses purely on the tricks that players can execute. Each medal has a certain score that must be achieved, but they need to bust out some insane maneuvers to reach that score within a limited amount of time — or they risk failing the challenge all together. Score multipliers and time extenders litter each course, and are essential aids for Evel Knievel wannabes hoping to extend their fictitious fan bases.
Every single race track is filled to the brim with secrets, shortcuts, and coins for users to find and collect. Doing so not only gives players an edge when it comes to going against other gamers/CPUs, but first place victories and coins collected while bombing around each course will go towards money and experience that users can make use of to purchase new equipment and level up. Levelling up unlocks new abilities and items, making it an essential part of progressing through the game.
Upgrading existing bikes, buying new ones, and investing in new clothing items are some of the perks that are available for those who collect enough coins and rewards in the game’s racing circuits. Purchasing the content is the easy part, it’s unlocking the content for purchase that’s tricky, and the game does an absolutely wonderful job at putting players through their paces to earn the privilege of purchasing a majority of the items that can grace the shelves of the in-game store.
The biggest issue that can be had with Motocross Madness is that it’s incredibly short, and won’t take gamers that are familiar with this brand of racer long to reach 100% completion. For 800 Microsoft Points ($10) this isn’t completely unexpected, but the addition of more content would have been much appreciated.
While it won’t take long to complete the title, the inclusion of split-screen and online multiplayer will breath new life into the game long after the single player portion has been completed. Allowing for one-on-one action on the same console is a lot of fun, especially given the insane wipe outs and tomfoolery that occur regularly throughout every race, but it would have been nice to have 4-players simultaneously. That said, Motocross Madness supports 2-8 players online, and that option is very rarely a boring time.
On top of standard multiplayer offerings, there’s a feature called Bike Club. This option allows users to interact with their friends even when they aren’t online by posting the player’s best lap times and challenging their friends to top them. This makes for some friendly competition amongst friends, and adds a nice layer of challenge provided a solid number of Xbox Live friends actually have the game.
Overall, Motocross Madness is the game that a majority of longtime series faithfuls would expect from a $10 installment. While it’s short on content, what is present manages to be a very fun, pick-up-and-play racer that almost anyone can jump into with relative ease. The inclusion of upgradeable dirt bikes and an XP meter scratches the itch of players looking for something a little deeper, while still keeping the overall experience simple and satisfying.
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Motocross Madness is available for download now on the Xbox 360.