If you're anything like me, you'll have a more than healthy appetite for a brand new Mario Kart title for Switch. However, as Nintendo hasn't delivered the goods, it's good that other titles are drifting in to fill that void, and the latest game to slide into pole position as a contender is Mini Motor Racing X.
Heavily inspired by the isometric racers of old, it inspires a strong nostalgic feel as you zoom around the Scalextric-sized tracks in tiny trucks kitted out in Fruit Ninja branding. There's a vast garage of vehicles to choose from, all with slightly different stats to ensure there's a motor just right for you. All are upgradeable too, meaning as you speed across the 50+ tracks in the game, if you find the car you like, you can make it even better. There's something inherently adorable in that they're all so dinky – like some kind of chibi version of Hot Wheels toys.
But, more importantly, there are two distinct ways to play too. That X in the name isn't just there to make the game sound edgier, it's an indication of the Type X mode that's on offer alongside classic racing. This alternative racing mode lets you play the whole game but with the added chaos of Mario Kart-style weaponry, and nitrous boosts. Fling wrenches across the track to attack other racers, fire tornados to attack the current first place racer, or just shield yourself from incoming attacks. There's plenty of fun to be had, and because the tracks are so compact, it makes for even more delicious turmoil during a race.
Talking to Ingmar Lak, director at developer Binary Mill, it was always a "consideration" to add a more explosive option to the racing experience. "You can't have a fun, arcade-style racer without thinking about weapons and power-ups," says Lak. "Fans have been asking for it since day one, but we decided to focus in on making a solid, exciting racing game first and foremost. With Mini Motor Racing X we felt like we'd achieved that, and it was time to expand the game and get a little crazy with it."
Zoom, crash, wallop
Mini Motor Racing X has already had a successful launch on PC, PS4, and in virtual reality too, but it's now coming to Switch on September 17. It feels like a perfect fit for Nintendo's latest console because it's such a pick-up-and-play title. There's four-player online multiplayer, but for me the greatest win is the option to play the campaigns in couch co-op.
"Mini Motor Racing X was designed to be an arcade-style game, and we always wanted to capture that couch co-op feel for multiplayer (via literal local couch co-op or online co-op), so really the Switch was an ideal match," adds Lak. "The co-op and competitive potential [on Switch] was huge. When we were testing the multiplayer on the original version of Mini Motorway Racing we had a local LAN set up in the office, and having everyone in the same place playing together was insanely fun. While online multiplayer is great, there is something about being in the same room as your friends while competing that elevates the whole experience, and Switch is just perfect for that, be it on a single Switch or with multiple Switches."
Handily, the game has some additional features for the Switch release too, including support for up to four-player local split-screen, which will no doubt be great fun when all this COVID nonsense is in the rear-view. But, also there's a brand new in-car cockpit view that makes you feel like you're the little plastic racer in a toy car. It's pretty exciting, and when combined with the other camera options makes the game a little more accessible to those not enamoured with the classic isometric view.
For those of you who are already adding Mini Motorway Racing X to your Switch wishlist, let me leave you with some words of advice from Lak to get you started in the game:
"A solid first lap is huge. Playing catchup can be a real struggle on some tracks, so try to nail that first lap. Use all your boosts if you must, you can always collect more during the race. Other than that, upgrade your vehicle as often as possible. Don't be shy about spending money on upgrades, you can always reclaim the cash via respec if you unlock a new ride and want to tune it up instead."
For now though, why not check out our upcoming Switch games list for more exciting titles arriving in 2020 and beyond...