Oh monster trucks, what joy you bring us. There have been enough monster truck games for the Wii so as to make monster truck racing an actual genre. No, seriously. There’s Bigfoot: Collision Course and, well, um, there’s Monster Jam: Urban Assault. Oh, and how could I forget Monster 4×4 Stunt Racer? Is there some sort of internal memo telling developers to make monster truck games for the Wii? Or is the Wii, much like pro wrestling, monster trucks, and Slip’n'Slides, just plain better with alcohol?
Monster Trucks Mayhem has one mode, Play. Play mode is an alternating series of races and events. The races are pretty straightforward chases through the game’s seven tracks. After each race is an event, like the King of the Hill played in the sewers or a smash through the Canadian woods. Each event lets the player use a new vehicle and beating the event unlocks said vehicle for the next race. The races are decent, if uninspiring, but there is one that is noteworthy for all the wrong reasons.
The Manhattan Rooftops race is a painful, soul-crushing exercise the likes of which I have not seen in some time. While racing across ramp festooned rooftops with fast vehicles capable of actually jumping might be a fun and novel thing, racing across rooftops with monster trucks is akin to bowling with a block of ice. The trucks are constantly falling off the rooftops and have to respawn, usually in places where further progress is impossible and the race has to be restarted. This makes for a frustrating and deeply dissatisfying experience, to put it mildly.
There is no multi-player, even though a game of this type almost demands some form of two-player. Without the ability to at least share the pain of the experience, Monster Trucks Mayhem is nothing more than an hour or two of slogging with little reward.
Mode Rating: Bad
Workmanlike. I always liked that word a lot and I think it applies well to Monster Trucks Mayhem. The trucks, even the ones based on good concepts, have an overly generic look. Monster trucks should be bold and these trucks are milder than a Taco Bell Mild Sauce packet. The most egregious of the offenders is Bullfrog, a round, sexy sports car turned monster truck. Mid-80′s sweatband green, with KC lights and no decals anywhere on the body. Bullfrog looks more like an unfinished model than a lean, mean monster truck.
Even allowing for a fear of lawsuits preventing the design of the trucks to be so bland, why are the environs so bland and brown? The race through a city’s streets is so monotone white that it looks like a bathroom fixture ad. The aforementioned Hell that is the Manhattan Rooftops stage is more gray than overcooked cellophane noodles.
If there is one particularly disappointing aspect to the graphics, it is the completely uniform nature of the smashable cars. What world is it that allows every person in it to drive a white Buick? That is a truly frightening dictatorship, if you ask me.
Graphics Rating: Poor
If there is one aspect of Monster Trucks Mayhem that I am completely neutral on, it is the sound. There is music, but it is without defining characteristics, a wall of generic techno beats and guitar squalls. One thing I have noticed about playing so many mediocre Wii titles in a short amount of time is that almost every Wii game has the same type of generic “rock”Â music. Seriously, I could not tell this game from any other based purely on sound. The trucks make a nicely rumbling engine sound that sets the scene for car crushing action. To be fair, that might be the only noteworthy sound in the entire game.
Sound Rating: Poor
Control and Gameplay:
If the designers of Monster Trucks Mayhem did one thing perfectly, it was using the control scheme made popular by Mario Kart Wii. Turning the WiiMote ninety degrees and holding it horizontally, the A and B buttons are BOOST, 1 is Break/Reverse, and 2 is Gas. Turning the WiiMote left turns you left and turning it right turns you right, as it should be, and that scheme works well. If you happen to have a Wii Wheel laying around your gaming area, it makes the Monster Trucks Mayhem experience a slight bit more enjoyable.
The gameplay suffers from the strangely light physics of the game. These big, huge, gigantic trucks leap off of moguls and seem to take forever to hit the ground, as if the tires were filled with helium. The tight turning ratio makes up for the strangely floaty handling, making races actually winnable. The odd BOOST mechanic requires crushing trees and cars and the such to build up BOOST, even though the obstacles slow you down every time you hit one.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre
All of the game’s unlockables are unlocked during the initial play through. After beating the game, which takes all of 45 minutes, unless you have no hand eye coordination, there is no reason to replay the game. With no multi-player and no unlockables, there is zero reason to replay Monster Trucks Mayhem after beating it.
Replayability: Very Bad
The challenge of Monster Trucks Mayhem comes more from the strange events and stages than from any sort of direct design decision. Worst of all, after you figure out what the challenges want you to do, they are super easy. The whole destroy Canada’s wooded majesty stage is a minute and a half long and you will finish it in one try. Only the City Center Chaos stage takes more than an attempt or two to finish, if you have even mediocre video game skills, as I do. I cannot summarize how little game there really is here.
On one hand, Monster Trucks Mayhem has no licensed monster trucks. This is could be pretty cool, except half the trucks are uninteresting. The stages are creative, but not exactly logical. Monster trucks racing around a volcano sounds cooler and more original than possible, but it is not as fun as the concept. The rooftop race sounds like it could be fun, instead of the abortion it is.
With only half an hour to an hour of gameplay and no reason to replay it, addictiveness is simply not present in Monster Trucks Mayhem. The lack of multiplayer or unlockables, or even a plot, make it impossible to recommend Monster Truck Madness‘s addictiveness.
Like any red-blooded American male, Hell, anyone with a pulse, I love monster trucks. Can you imagine anything cooler than a giant gas-guzzling truck that smashes other cars? There might not be anything cooler than monster trucks, anything more awesome. I cannot emphasize enough how appealing a monster truck really is. If Monster Trucks Mayhem had a mode that resembled actual monster truck competition, then I would be a total mark for this game.
Appeal Factor: Good
Monster Trucks Mayhem is a $20 game. For $20 you can buy a pizza or two, or some beer to drink while watching monster trucks on TV. I have never said this before, but at even that low price, I cannot recommend Monster Trucks Mayhem. A truly awful game, for sure.
Miscellaneous: Very Bad
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Very Bad
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Very Bad
FINAL SCORE: POOR GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary
While I enjoy video games and I enjoy monster trucks, I cannot find much in Monster Trucks Mayhem to recommend. It is a short, oddly conceived game, that has little to redeem it. If you have a Wii and $20, I am sure you can find a better way to have fun. Hell, for $10 you can find a better way to spend an hour or two. Without realistic physics, all that’s left is a boring, one-player, kart game. Pass.