Mad Tracks

A year ago, D3 Publishing were known for their Japanese budget releases and not much else. Twelve months on and they’ve done themselves proud, having released the likes of Puzzle Quest, Earth Defence Force 2017 and the Pikmin-like Darwin in the last few months alone. This arcade racer is their first console download effort, and also the first racing game for Xbox Live Arcade. New Rally X obviously doesn’t count – it’s more like Pac-Man than anything. Silly Namco.

Mad Tracks screenshotYou get a fair bit of kit for your 800 Microsoft Points – six tracks, nine mini-games, online multiplayer for up to four players and two ‘free’ gamer pictures. The racing is unquestionably Mario Kart in style, with the nippy toy cars able to pick up rockets, drop oil spills and turn the opposition into blocks of ice. Two weapons can be carried at a time – just tap the X button to swap between the two. A bit of Double Dash, there.

The demo – which weighs in at just under 50MB – gives you the chance to rally around a modern kitchen, complete with wine glasses that can be toppled over, and also offers one of the mini-games. It’s set in a round arena in which runaway balls are dropped in every five seconds. If you crash into one then you’re out.

One neat twist is that the cars are powered by springs – if you hold down accelerate for too long then the spring will stretch too far and your motor will grind to a standstill. If you ease off when going around corners though you shouldn’t have to worry about calling the AA out too often.

If you like what’s on offer – and if you’re a fan of Mashed and Micro Machines then you probably will – then you won’t have to wait long for another dose: developers Load Inc have two expansion packs lined up (Bravo and Encore) with another 15 tracks. They’ll cost you though – another 350 Microsoft Points a pop.