Motocross Madness is one of those odd artefacts of gaming past that barely registers in the history books despite being, at the time, very well thought of. Published by Microsoft in its PC-only days, it was an early introduction to the joys of stunt racing and much respected. Then developer Rainbow was bought by THQ and consigned to churning out increasingly awful MX vs ATV titles, and Microsoft mothballed the licence. Thirteen years later, somebody decided to resurrect it, and it's reminded us of how much fun we used to have with the original.
The racing is really, really cool, easy to pick up yet hard to master. Each map has multiple routes through it, and it's immensely satisfying getting to know them all so you can cut up opponents and beat them to the finish. Tricking is also an integral weapon in your repertoire, as performing impressive ones will give your bike a literal boost. It's nice to know that a guy may have upgraded his bike more than you, but you can still beat him with superior skill - or, if all else fails, a swift boot of justice to kick him out of the way. Whether you're racing CPUs in Career mode, using local split screen, or taking on all comers on online, you're guaranteed to have fun.
There's actually a surprising range of social systems to the game, and they're nicely thought out. You can create your own Bike Club and invite friends to join so you can complete challenges together. Don't have any friends? Online players are suggested based on your skill level. Progress on Bike Club challenges is continually updated, so you can keep tabs on how your mates are doing and, obviously, do it way better than they are. Rivals mode lets you race ghosts from the leader board, and the game supports Avatar Famestar so you can be the best of the best.
As part of this emphasis on connected playing, prepare to be playing as you - that is, your Avatar. Sadly, seeing your animated man-puppet sat astride what is a pretty credible-looking motorbike is the most jarring part of the game. Motocross Madness seems to be treading a line between bright cartoony colours combined with aspects of realism, and sometimes it wobbles off a bit. But that doesn't matter so much, especially when you can use in-game currency to buy biker leathers that disguise your Avatar, and then ride it into an awesome flip over a waterfall.
It actually took a while before we realised that there are only nine tracks, total. They do start to feel a bit stale, but not for ages - you can actually explore them in your own time in a kind of open world sandbox so you get extra good at off-roading. So much content has been wrung out of this game that there's even a reward for the number of miles you bail out of jumps. That's right: you get rewarded for not being very good. Basically, if you don't enjoy this game you're probably dead from the waist down.
You can download Motocross Madness here for 800MSP.
Makes us love motorbikes again
- Impressively varied modes
- Beefy online mechanics
- Racing feels awesome
- Your Avatar looks a bit lost
- Becomes repetitive after a while