I can’t tell if the title for Mini Madness was decided on because you drive miniature cars, or because the default car you start with is quite clearly modelled on a Mini Cooper. For argument’s sake, we’ll say it’s both.

Whatever the case, Mini Madness is the latest racing game here to fill that Micro Machines shaped void in your life (been a while hasn’t it?). As you would expect, you’ll be zipping around many familiar household settings, including the kitchen, garden and even the attic. There is a brief training mode to kick things off, which is optional but worth checking out.

mini madness review 1

It consists of 16 different objectives to complete, which gives off first impressions that there’s more to this pint-sized racer than meets the eye. You have an afterburner boost at your disposal, can flip in mid air, obtain all sorts of pick-ups and even self right if you get into difficulties. Your car’s handling is centred around its afterburner, which will improve when you fill it. That’s the theory anyway.

However, in action the perceived complexity of the gameplay in Mini Madness falls away pretty quickly. Your car handles as lightly as a feather, and if you catch the slightest dip or collide with an opponent, you’ll flip out in an entirely random fashion. Also, rather tellingly the Xbox Store lists the genre of Mini Madness as “Racing & Flying”. This is a fair point, as you will spend a lot of time in the air.

However, you haven’t a hope in hell of controlling your car once airborne, meaning you’ll often overshoot, fall off the track, barrel roll or simply just get stuck. This will usually cause you to lose a substantial amount of progress. This is because you have to hit checkpoints on the course as you race. However, if you miss one (say for example you tried to take a cheeky shortcut) it’s not overly obvious, meaning you can carry on racing. If things go wrong you can hit RB to restart, but by the time this has played out your opponents will have likely opened up a huge lead.

If you race well (and this normally happens once you’ve learned the track because even the best reflexes won’t help you here) you’ll leave your opponents for dust and they will post no challenge. It really is one extreme or the other in Mini Madness. What is rather hilarious, is that at the start of pretty much every race all three of your rivals pull away as though they are fused together. Unfortunately there isn’t an option to amend the difficulty either to try and remedy any of this. As a result, for the most part Mini Madness is either one extreme or the other. Frustrating or boring. 

mini madness review 3

The main way to play is the Championship mode, which sees you take part in a series of competitive races. Typically, these consist of four events, however only two different courses. This is because, rather lazily, you’ll race on two courses to begin with, then repeat the same ones but with pick-ups in play. What’s worse, is that you must place first to unlock the next championship event, meaning if you don’t you’ll have to play them again. Twice.

The courses themselves are long enough too, with each consisting of three laps. Unfortunately this means these events are repetitive chores which turn out to be somewhat of a grind. If introducing pick-ups into the fray mixed things up it wouldn’t be so bad, but it really doesn’t. This is because you’ll either be too far away from the pack to engage with them, or oddly they only sometimes use their pick-ups. 

There are plenty of combat pick-ups such as guns, traps and shields, alongside others such as the transmitter or a set of checkpoints. These are actually quite interesting, the first allowing you to slightly alter the course (such as switching on a kettle and riding the steam to reveal a shortcut) and the latter saving you precious time if you anticipate messing up on a tricky turn. Don’t expect Mario Kart style scraps for first place in Mini Madness, as the item system feels like an afterthought which makes little to no impact when all is said and done.

You can also set up a quick race, take part in time trials or play multiplayer locally. Only the latter offers anything new compared to the championship mode. The multiplayer competition mode is a series of simple mini-games, such as bomb tag and mini-golf, which offer a brief distraction from the repetitive racing in Mini Madness.

mini madness review 2

Lastly, there is also a challenge mode. Unfortunately, once again the same courses are used, but this time you must find stars and sometimes secret areas as you play free roam style. It’s intriguing for a short while, but I’d be surprised if you found the incentive to hunt down and collect every one.

There is a shop you can access via the player option in the menu, which allows you to purchase different upgrades to your car. This may be assisted gravity, for example, which means you can take special routes on some tracks that will weave up walls and across the ceiling. It’s good to see that these do have a slight impact on your car’s handling and the courses themselves, however the vast majority of items available for purchase are purely cosmetic, such as novelty horns, sirens and antennas. 

Being honest, Mini Madness looks a bit rubbish. When you see the lengths that games such as Forza Horizon 5 are going to in order to realise cars in the virtual world, it really shows what’s possible these days. Now I’m not comparing these directly but here it feels like graphically Mini Madness could belong on the original Xbox. Not only this but the cars sound uniformly tinny, drowning out the generic soundtrack. The truth is that nothing about the presentation of this game really excites.

Mini Madness may hit the right nostalgic notes, but the repetitive humdrum racing and somewhat lazy execution is a long way behind the curve.

You can pick up Mini Madness from the Xbox Store

I can’t tell if the title for Mini Madness was decided on because you drive miniature cars, or because the default car you start with is quite clearly modelled on a Mini Cooper. For argument's sake, we’ll say it's both. Whatever the case, Mini Madness is the latest racing game here to fill that Micro Machines shaped void in your life (been a while hasn’t it?). As you would expect, you’ll be zipping around many familiar household settings, including the kitchen, garden and even the attic. There is a brief training mode to kick things off, which is optional but…

Pros:

  • Multiplayer games and challenge mode adds some variety

Cons:

  • Uninspiring visuals
  • Repetitive courses wear thin quickly
  • Handling is all over the place
  • Pick-ups are under utilised

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Drageus Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 10 Dec 2021
  • Launch price from - £8.39
TXH Score

2/5

Pros:

  • Multiplayer games and challenge mode adds some variety

Cons:

  • Uninspiring visuals
  • Repetitive courses wear thin quickly
  • Handling is all over the place
  • Pick-ups are under utilised

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Drageus Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 10 Dec 2021
  • Launch price from - £8.39

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