Not what I was expecting…
I have fond memories, back in the day, of spending hours and hours just cruising around landscapes in Microsoft’s Motocross Madness on PC, trying to find something awesome to jump from and getting to the edge of the huge map just to be launched into the air like a catapaulted ragdoll. It was one of my favorite games. So when Motocross Madness arrived on Xbox Live Arcade just recently, I was well up for some retro reminiscing. Then I started the game and found something completely different.
Those of you who remember the PC Motocross Madness, and its sequel, from some 15 years ago would do best to completely put that game out of your mind. Aside from the Motocross bikes, the wide open maps, and the fact that you still get launched into the air if you try to leave the map, everything else in Motocross Madness on Xbox Live Arcade has changed.
Players take their very own Xbox Live Avatars into the game, complete with leathers, boots and crash helmet. The first area that becomes an avatar playground is Egypt, and players will find themselves racing around, and over, pyramids and sand dunes. The bikes are a little loose to start with, but different bikes will become available as the player earns some cash. Controls are as simple as they should be, with the right trigger to accelerate and the left to break. There is a boost meter which, once filled, can be activated with the A button for some extra speed. Then there are tricks. Landing tricks will help fill the boost meter, along with drifting, and players will begin with a simple range of tricks to perform with a button press and direction push. As they level up, more complex tricks will be unlocked allowing for some really impressive flips and spins with various limbs flailing in the wind.
Progressing through races set within the given area will earn the player experience. Each of the areas has a number of different tracks to race on, and players will be able to find shortcuts and earn boost to make the simple act of winning that little bit easier. Obviously, as the player progresses, the races become much more difficult and every advantage will be needed to succeed. So big tricks, heavy drifting and extensive use of the boost will be the order of the day, alongside squeezing every split second from a shortcut and upgrading your bike with the money you win, or just buying a new bike.
Exploration mode unlocks the entire area as a playground for the player to explore. Whilst there is a certain amount of fun to be had in simply driving around the map and finding any well hidden shortcuts on the tracks, each area has other things to do. There are coins to be found all over the place, and a number of skulls that are positioned in the most inaccessible places. Finding and getting all of these skulls is a task achievable by only the most dedicated of players, and hours of game time can be lost simply trying to reach one skull perched on top of a castle.
The two other game modes available are Rivals and Trick Sessions. In Rivals, the player will find themselves racing against times set by the developers themselves, which is incredibly compelling. Trick Sessions on the other hand, puts the player in Exploration mode and challenges them to rack up a trick score in a time limit. Leaderboards help to make this mode more competitive, or more frustrating depending on how good you are.
Besides having a lot of high-speed and high flying fun, Motocross Madness has plenty of stuff to unlock and buy, to encourage players to come back for more. There are bikes and all manner of gear for the player to collect. And of course, multiplayer and split screen co-op make sure that the fun never has to be alone.
Motocross Madness may not be what I was expecting, but that doesn’t mean I was disappointed. The game looks really good, and is great fun to play. It may not be the deepest experience, even for a Motocross game, but it is great fun. Trying to work out how to collect the skulls will drive many gamers mad, and local co-op play is perfect for parties. The maps are huge and varied enough to be exciting when they are unlocked. For an arcade game, there is a lot of content here, making Motocross Madness great value for money and worth picking up.