The smash-hit rough-terrain motorcycle game of the late 90’s is back and this time more fun than ever as Motocross Madness returns to consoles via the Xbox LIVE Arcade. Complete with Avatar support your Xbox LIVE alter-ego grabs the handle bars through some of the most challenging areas of the world from the deserts of Egypt to the snowy mountains in Iceland! Currently available for just 800 MS Points from Microsoft Studios and doubles up as part of the Play to Earn Promotions on the Xbox LIVE Arcade this month (which is a way of giving you back some MS points for participating in the Xbox LIVE Rewards experience) – Motocross Madness is adequately priced as a cheap hit ‘n’ run title that the whole family can enjoy.
The game presents itself as a cartoon-like fun racer with nine challenging tracks to master with both a Career mode and Online Multiplayer options available. Your MXM Career will span across four categories comprising of Race, Rivals, Exploration and Trick Sessions where progression and further unlocked content is based on your player Level Rank. Racing is pretty obvious and needs no explanation in that you have the ultimate aim of getting Gold, Silver or Bronze in a competitive race to the finish line. However, the tracks are not always as they seem with hidden paths that offer Boost Bonuses and high-speed ramps to put you ahead of the rest. Rivals mode is a more intense challenge based option that puts you against some of the best (developers) racers on the planet and your goal is to outperform them in a series of Ghost races. Exploration is another ‘obvious’ title for a mode in that you must (can you guess it) explore the terrain of your environment. Exploration is a more relaxed and slow-paced mode that can involve casual bike rides around the sandy desert whilst collecting scattered Coins and Skulls during a free-roam. Finally, Trick Session requires a higher Level Rank to be unlocked, but open ups to become a mode that requires Tricks to be performed to gain points. Tricks are little animations that your Avatar performs whilst in mid-jump where button combos can be pressed to show off some neat manoeuvres mid-air and a successfully performed with a perfect flawless landing. Ground tricks consist of Drifting, Donuts and Wheelies which will also rack up the score and help to make your mark on the Leaderboards.
If you’re brave enough to take your skills online in the games’ Multiplayer settings then you can race it out in Split-Screen or on Xbox LIVE. Within Multiplayer you can choose to take your Avatar and bike in a Race, Trick Session or Exploration Mode with up to eight players online (including yourself). There are three maps within the game which also appear in the online modes – Egypt, Australia and Iceland that each has additional separate environments within their locations that differ depending upon whether you are in a Race or Exploration mode. Just as per the Career mode your objectives within each mode are the same, except now you are playing against ‘real’ competitors online instead of the localised A.I who perform their racing skills and stunts with perfection. The benefits of playing with real players instead of Career is that it feels a more even playing field; Career is there for the hard work, earning, performing and unlocking – more of a challenge for sure.
As part of the rewards of gameplay you can get to unlock a range of customisable options for your Avatar and Bike which can be found stored within the Garage Options. A Bike Selection, Bike Upgrade and Avatar Outfit selection can be accessed to allow you to tweak and apply your upgrades and unlocks with the Bike Selection giving you a range of Bike Classes with varying speed, acceleration, handling, trick and boost statistics. Bike Upgrades are in place to improve the engine, gears, tyres and even visual graphics – whereas Avatar Outfit options are solely for just how to show off your virtual representation in game with T-shirts, shirts, Helmets, Boots and gloves up for grabs that can be seen in both Career and Multiplayer modes. For extra digital apparel you can reap the rewards of Xbox LIVE Avatar gear by completing challenges to grab 4 additional Avatar Awards that can be worn across Xbox LIVE – everything else in the Garage applies to just in-game only.
Visually, Motocross Madness is not all that highly polished and looks a typical arcade-style racer with a range of fun and bright backdrops that do little to add realism to the locations of Egypt, Australia and Iceland. Despite being immensely fun and great to play, it is a shame that some of the locations from the originals didn’t make the cut and this latest addition or perhaps a re-birth of the Motocross games is far from anything like the PC originals – if only there was a level editor, more challenging terrains even! It’s certainly a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family and a really good deal for 800 MS Points, but unless this is set to have a few more locations as DLC in the near future it’ll be a five-minute flash in the pan.
This is a dumbed-down version of the Motocross Madness you might have once loved and another game with Avatars to add to the collection of kid-cartoon-like titles on the Xbox LIVE Arcade platform. Enjoyable, but an HD remake of the original games would ‘really’ have been much more appealing.