Motocross Mania started life as a pretty good PC game, containing supercross, motocross, and freestyle events and fun, albeit simplified gameplay when compared with other similar PC games. The PlayStation version of Motocross Mania is the latest entry in Take 2 Interactive's $9.99 budget line and is a good example of the old saying, "You get what you pay for."
Motocross Mania has the requisite championship, single-race, and practice modes, and you can race on supercross, motocross, and freestyle tracks. In championship mode, you earn money that can be used to purchase upgrades for your bike, which can also be tweaked in several areas, such as tire hardness, suspension, and gear ratio settings. The freestyle events score you based on how many tricks you can execute successfully, which like other motocross games, are achieved by holding down one or more stunt buttons and tapping stunt commands on the D-pad. On paper, the game sounds like any other full-featured motocross game. But just about every aspect of the game is executed rather poorly, leaving behind choppy graphics, low frame rates, and ill-conceived physics.
Aside from the stunts, the racing is about as stripped down as you can get. No suspension preloading or clutch popping is to be found here--you merely steer the bike while hitting the gas or brakes and tilting your bike in midair to ensure a proper landing angle. Hitting the brakes while turning causes your rider to powerslide a bit. The physics in the game are really freaky. Landing on your bike's front wheel almost causes it to stick in place, rolling forward ever so slightly, and you're left to wait for the bike's rear wheel to finally come down before you can move. By default, the game has invisible barriers on either side of the track, preventing you from leaving the track in any way and causing you to get hung up rather often on some of the tighter turns. You can turn the barriers off, but the game's offtrack counter is a viscous one: It gives you three seconds to re-enter the course at the point you left it before it resets your bike. If you cut any corner too tight and leave the track even for a split second, you'll be set back to a point before you left the track. Needless to say, either option is more than frustrating.
In a word, this game is ugly. While the bike models and riders look OK for a low-end PlayStation game, the frame rate is sickeningly choppy, even more so when any computerized riders share the screen with you. The camera also sticks rigidly behind your bike, so when you're going over a series of small bumps, the camera shakes violently. The soundtrack is filled with generic rock tracks, and the game's sound effects consist of quietly revving bike motors and occasional cries of whoop, woo-hoo, and yelps of pain from your rider.
With so many better supercross games on the market, many of them older and available at similar bargain-basement price points, Motocross Mania has no place in the market. Stick to EA's Supercross series or THQ's Championship Motocross series and try to forget that Motocross Mania even exists.