Mantis Burn Racing review - An excellent arcade racer for Switch
| Mantis Burn Racing

Ever since Mario Kart 8 Deluxe landed on the Switch back in April, there's been only one answer to the question, 'what do you play after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?'

Unfortunately, the answer to that is, 'more Mario Kart 8 Deluxe'.

Part of that is down to the sheer quality of Nintendo's mascot racer, of course. But the uncomfortable truth is that there aren't any other really good arcade racers for the Switch.

Or at least, there weren't until Mantis Burn Racing turned up.

Dirty racing

Not that Mantis Burn Racing has to worry too much about direct Mario Kart comparisons. It's a budget eShop release, for one thing.

VooFoo's game also bears more resemblance to the classic Micro Machines series. It's there in the top-down, zoomed-out view and direct controls, if not the setting.

Much of the action takes place on dirt tracks and through muddy hills, with an onus on sustaining momentum by sliding the back end out rather than picking out braking points.

The cars, too, are a robust mix of dune buggies, rally cars and giant Tonka trucks. Each of these categories handles very differently, with their own easily identifiable strengths and weaknesses.

The rally cars have decent grip on tarmac and strong straight line speed, buggies can take the bumps and slides of off road racing in their spiky-tired stride, while the trucks can literally plough their own shortcuts through fragile barriers.

You'll encounter some more exotic options, too, such as flying cars and what essentially equates to tanks, complete with working machine guns and mines.

Completing races in campaign mode gives you money and components with which to upgrade your cars, as well as buying all new ones.

Drives like a dream

Each of these vehicles must be used throughout Mantis Burn Racing's campaign mode. Besides straight-up races there are time trials, eliminators, and accumulator rounds that ask you to slide and jump as much as possible.

Though the race types are varied, it's a shame that the tracks are so samey. With only 12 courses set across three environments, it wasn't long before I started experiencing a major case of deja vu.

But make no mistake - it's the racing on those tracks that's the star here. VooFoo has hit upon a brilliantly balanced racing model that's pleasantly intuitive and forgiving while offering plenty of scope for shaving off an extra tenth of a second from your personal best.

As your cars get faster, they get more challenging to drive, while the AI opponents get tougher at a similar rate. By the time you're into the second season, you'll be engaged in a number of bitter duels with your faceless opponents (curse you Captain Tripp!).

Podium position

The extra-thick layer of icing on Mantis Burn Racing's cake is its generous allotment of multiplayer options.

There's local split screen multiplayer for up to four players both on the TV and the Switch. Particularly ingenious is the way 2P split-screen has you placing the Switch flat on the table lengthways between you, giving you both a nicely proportioned square of screen to use.

There's also wireless racing for when you have multiple Switch consoles to hand. Finally there's online racing, which notably works cross-platform.

All modes run brilliantly in whatever configuration you choose, and the intuitive rough-and-tumble racing model guarantees some truly tight and unpredictable races.

If you haven't heard of Mantis Burn Racing before, it may come as a bit of a revelation to you. It's a tight, polished arcade racing game with plenty of surprises up its sleeve, despite a slight shortfall in terms of the track selection.

It's the ideal quirky alternative to Mario Kart 8's mainstream arcade racing thrills - especially at this budget price.

Mantis Burn Racing review - An excellent arcade racer for Switch

Mantis Burn Racing is a fine arcade racer with tight handling, a strong campaign mode, and flexible multiplayer options
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.