Mad Tracks Review

Mad Tracks is the sort of idiot-simple game that you'll forget about five minutes after you play it.

Words like forgettable, disposable, uninspired, and superfluous--these all sum up Mad Tracks pretty well. A sort of Micro Machines and Mario Party mash-up for the Xbox Live Arcade, Mad Tracks will hold your attention for exactly as long as it takes to play each minigame and race once or twice, play a few online matches, and then exit out to the system's dashboard, never to load up this trite, lifeless game again. In this case, that ought to take you about a half hour, at most.

See, all the environments are filled with gigantic versions of everyday objects, because the cars are small. Get it? Isn't it clever?
See, all the environments are filled with gigantic versions of everyday objects, because the cars are small. Get it? Isn't it clever?

Mad Tracks sets down tiny cars on a variety of real-world-sized tracks and arenas and has you either racing or participating in some sort of competitive minigame. The game's racing is a bad knockoff of the Micro Machines/mascot kart racer formula, with a few ghetto power-ups and weapons scattered throughout the tracks that are barely effective in most situations. The cars handle rather poorly, though that does seem somewhat intentional so as to give them a toylike feel. There's even a battery that decreases as you hold down on the accelerator. Still, the battery thing is just a gimmick that rarely causes you any real problems during a race. The racing is just universally not fun, simply because there's no real skill or challenge to any of it. You race--sometimes you win, sometimes you get blasted by missiles and thus do not win. That's all there is to it. Yes, you can turn up the AI difficulty, but it doesn't really make the racing any more skillful or challenging--it just makes it cheaper and more annoying.

Minigames here are notably better, though they also get old quickly. There's an interesting variety of them, including a foosball game where you and a partner play on an actual foosball table, trying to score goals with a rather floaty ball by driving the ball toward the net; a game of 8-ball where your goal is to drive onto a pool table and knock all of your colored balls into the various pockets first; a darts game where you launch your car off a jump and try to land on a dart board as close to the center as possible; and a mess-making game where you and your opponents sit on a table and try to knock as many toys as possible off of it. Conceptually, all these games are pretty neat, but once you actually jump into them, you'll realize that after you've bested them a couple of times, there's not much reason to ever go back. They're quickly digested, rarely taking more than a minute or two to beat, and they just aren't fun beyond the initial play-throughs.

While there's certainly something to be said for playing these games online against friends, the online setup is woefully inadequate. Namely, there's no way to keep a group of friends together for more than one match, even in player matches. Once you beat one game, the game spits you back out into the main menu. Granted, it only takes a play or two of each game for the entertainment value to dry up, so maybe that doesn't even really matter. For what it's worth, the online matches we played worked fine. They weren't fun, but they worked.

If this were actual foosball, it might actually be fun.
If this were actual foosball, it might actually be fun.

Mad Tracks doesn't offer up much with its presentation, either. The graphics look clean, but they're bland and bereft of charm. The car designs are boilerplate Micro Machine rips, and the tracks are just what you'd expect them to be, with lots of gigantic home furnishings to demonstrate that, yes, your car is very tiny. The game's audio is more irritating than anything else. The repetitive soundtrack turns into white noise after a bit, and the in-game sound effects are tinny and overly loud. Every weapon noise sounds like it's being filtered through a series of tin cans, and the car engines have this high-pitched whine to them that certainly plays to the toy-car vibe but isn't pleasant to listen to in the slightest.

Ultimately, Mad Tracks is a paper-thin game that tries to disguise its flimsy value by offering up a bunch of games that take almost no time to beat at all. Supposedly the developers are planning to add more minigames to the package via microtransactions, but by the time that actually happens, you'll have completely forgotten about this utterly unimpressive racer and moved on to any number of something elses. Unless you're really hot to drop $10 on something that's barely amusing enough to fill 30 minutes, you can safely skip out on Mad Tracks.

The Good

  • Fifteen races and minigames
  • Online and split-screen play for up to four players

The Bad

  • Each of the races and minigames can be completed in roughly a minute or two
  • Racing is no fun at all
  • Online mode has no way to keep friends in a lobby once a game is finished
  • Charmless visuals and grating audio

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