Mini Moto Racing EVO is a game that ought to be more fun than it is. A isometric arcade racer in the vein of Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing and Micro Machines, from the outside looking in it would appear the stars had aligned for a brilliant modern take on the genre. The art style is adorable and bursting with charm and personality, it features an absurd amount of content, and the online multiplayer and track editor are just the icing on the cake to ensure you never run out of stuff to do. What’s so terribly unfortunate though, is all these good feelings evaporate once you get behind the wheel.
Mini Moto is designed to be extremely accessible, from the light as air physics to the quick and simple to navigate courses, which makes for an enjoyable first hour or so as you get your feet wet and start blowing through courses. After that point, the experience begins to sour. Races grow repetitive, often simply reversing the track or changing the lighting and camera angle slightly, and end in an extremely unsatisfying manner. Simply continuing on with them quickly becomes a grind, as you’re given such little reason to do so and the racing itself is far too shallow to sustain the game on its own.
Expounding the grind is the leveling system, which I would go so far as to say fundamentally breaks the game. Every car you drive can be upgraded with cash earned from races, but instead of scaling to your car’s specs your competitors just continue to upgrade their own vehicles the more races you partake in, presumably with the expectation you’d have similar upgrades of your own. What this means is that you are either stuck putting all your cash into one car for the duration of the championship mode, removing much of the fun out of having such a variety of vehicles to choose from, or forced to grind through the same races in order to have enough to upgrade another car to switch to without having to start again at square one. It’s supremely monotonous and a poor design decision for the sort of game the developers created.
Without a doubt my biggest grievance with Mini Moto though, is the astonishingly bad AI of the computer racers. They crash into each other even to their own detriment, fire nitros at the worst possible time, and in general act like an idiotic band of monkeys that somehow got ahold of dozens of vehicles. The lack of any decent reward for winning races is bad enough, but when you do so against some of the worst AI racers I’ve ever seen in a game it just becomes a chore to do so. The online MP could fix this in theory, but unless you have several friends to play with you’ll be entirely out of luck as nobody else is playing the online mode anymore.
It’s really a huge shame that so many elements of EVO are a product of poor design decisions, because there are a lot of genuinely fantastic parts to it that deserve a better racing experience. The art style for the cars and tracks is fantastic, with tons of color and some great off-brand recreations of classic and novelty vehicles. The track editor is surprisingly expansive and easy to use, which could have allowed for some great user generated content if people cared enough to put the time into making something original.
But regardless of its presentation or feature list, a racing game with poor racing is impossible to recommend. I put a lot of time into Mini Moto Racing EVO, more than I should have, but regardless of how long I played or what races I chose I wasn’t having fun with any of it. There’s something mind numbingly addictive about the way EVO is structured, pushing me through race after race no matter how little I got out of it, or how much I wanted to just call it quits because it was sucking me dry. I don’t want to say I hate the game, but it’s one I’m forcing myself to uninstall.
It’s like a bad relationship, giving me nothing but keeping me trapped until I finally come to my senses and realize I need to get out.