“MiniOne Racing” by Fro Games features off-road trucks and futuristic flying saucers reduced down to tiny little toys that face-off in winner-takes-all competitions at break-plastic-army-man-speeds around funkadelic and weirded-out colorful tracks.
It’s a recipe for fun, right? Just take something awesome in real life, shrink it down, funk it out, and hold on tight! It’s likecondensed soup! Well, you’ll definitely be holding on to your chair unfortunately it’ll be so you don’t slip into dream-land and take a nose dive into your chair mat.
First I have to give credit where credit is due for the first 10 minutes the game just keeps getting better and better. The game is a quick download, easy install, fast load, and features all the audio and graphics options you could possibly need to make the game run just the way you like it for your system. It even allows you plenty of resolution choices and an option for OpenGL or D3D acceleration. What could go wrong?
Even in the free trial you have multiple modes to pick from (regular tournament, a long-distance jump challenge, and “Equilibrium”), and the tournament-style mode even has two tracks to pick from. The colors are bright and eye-catching, and the styles are smooth and pleasing to the eyes. The sound is not great, but it’s pleasant and doesn’t make you instantly reach for the mute option.
As you start a race you are greeted with four color options for your mini-vehicle (minicle?). 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 off you go for the first lap! Your miniatures have mini-cannons onboard with infinite ammo and every few turns have a set of power-ups to choose from. Each lap the behavior of the track varies a bit, and there is plenty of cutesy environment to keep things visually interesting. Again, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, the answer to “what could go wrong” is a resounding, “everything!”
Where the game offers more than one mode of play for extended fun, it actually gives you two options for instant boredom. The “Equilibrium” mode could be more honestly renamed “Frustration”, and the “Jump” mode iswell, actually it’s about as interesting as it sounds. With little instruction offered you are left wondering if you are just missing somethingbut no, they just aren’t really any fun.
Where the game offers customization of vehicle color, it ends there. The cars are all the same except for minor color scheme changes. The onboard weapon is the same, the computer-controlled drivers all act the same, power-ups always work the same they are simply all the same.
Track design in an unconventional racing game is always the place where a designer’s true creativity can shine, but in MiniOne Racing the tracks are nice to look at for about three minutes. They have turns, some minimally useful power-ups and power-downs (which are easy to avoid), and the occasional obstacle. That’s it! Sometimes a clam will appear in front of you that slow you down if you hit it, or maybe a weird kelp thing instead of a clam. There are no advanced power-sliding techniques available or anything of the sort, so even driving is a trivial matter of pressing the “up” button.
In short, everything in this game is greatfor about five to ten minutes. It offers a great LAN mode or at least, it would be great if the game had more to it. With polish, injection of character, cultivation of variety, and depth, this game could be a lot of fun. There is so much room for innovation Fro Games really has a chance to make a great fun title – it just isn’t there yet.
Ultimately, Fro Games took a bigger than life concept of weapon-bearing UFOs and monster trucks, and shrunk the fun even more than they shrunk the vehicles. As it stands, the game is barely worth downloading, and at $5 would be overpriced. The game is actually offered for sale for $19.99, which I will jump at the chance to purchasejust as soon as they start accepting cartoony miniature play money.
I’m going to have to rate MiniOne Racing 2 Harry, hairy balls. It’s not unplayable or unfixable – it’s just not good.