Mad Tracks for Xbox Live Arcade is a game of mini-games, which I almost fully completed in less than 12 hours. I'm not that good; the game is just that short and simple.
Mad Tracks was a bit disappointing. I started with the demo, and from that first race, I thought I'd love the full version of this game. From what I had seen to that point, it was racing and weapons. How could I not?! However, the game has more random (but common) mini-games than races. I prefer races.
The concept is simple yet fun. You play as a toy car against either computer rivals (Single Player) or human rivals (Multiplayer). In races and mini-games alike, there are item boxes available for pick up. You drive over them and collect either weapons or items which might protect you or work to your benefit. There are missiles, ice missiles (which turn rivals into a block of ice), rockets, gadgets which slow down time, protection bubbles, speed boost, battery-life extender and a few other fun (or annoying) things. I particularly enjoyed the battery-life extender and speed boost. Guess it goes with my love of racing.
The mini-games consist of common mini-games you find in almost all games with mini-games. In Mad Tracks, the only difference is that you're a toy car instead of a human or the standard thing used in said game. The mini-games include darts, pool, foosball, miniature golf and other such typical games that require you knock things off a table or the like. I enjoy an occasional mini-game, but I'm tired of the same old stuff. If I have to play the same old stuff, I'd rather be doing so at a party with a group of friends and perhaps an adult beverage or two.
Among the mini-games, there are few various racing games, and many of the Achievements are based on said games - or goals within said games. Out of the 12 Achievements, I think I completed 10. It didn't take me long.
The controls are basic and mainly involve using the right trigger button as the accelerator and the left trigger button for reverse. You steer with the d-pad, switch items with the B button or use items with the A button. You do have to watch your battery life, though, which is displayed on the bottom, center of the screen. If you use all of your battery, your car will die, and you'll have to sit and recharge. It can be very annoying if your car dies right before a ramp or loop.
The graphics are what you might expect from an Xbox Live Arcade game. They're simple yet crisp. The overall color scheme and look feels retro. But, the developers did a good job of making the surroundings reflect that you're a toy car rather than a life-sized vehicle. Although, the big dominoes do often get in the way after you knock them down. Stupid dominoes.
The music of Mad Tracks is likely to drive you mad. It reminds me of '70's porn. Luckily, like many Xbox games, you can turn it off via menu options. The sound effects aren't spectacular, but they aren't horribly annoying. The car sounds a bit louder than one might think a toy car sounds, but the missiles and other game sound effects fit the toy-like motif.
The Single player mode is very similar to that of the Multiplayer, except that in Multiplayer, you're playing humans. And the humans are ruthless. At least, the few people I played were. The wait time for multiplayer arcade games often is slow. It's no different for Mad Tracks. I'm an impatient person, so I disliked the time it required waiting on someone to join or start a new game. It wasn't hours, but it was at least two to five minutes, which is too long in my book. Once a game started, I could tell that these humans had it out for me (or any opponent). Rather than reaching the objective (bull's-eye for darts or being first in a race), my opponents felt the need to reverse their cars and hit me with whatever objects they'd picked up along the way. No worries, though. I quickly discovered their ploy and switched my tactics. I fired many a missile after that.
Overall, Mad Tracks is a fun way to spend anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours. The replayability is enough via Multiplayer that you'll get something different every time. And, there are enough mini-game options that one will surely fit your mood. And, it's kid-friendly. I'd rather there were more racing tracks than other types of games, and the music could have been less annoying. But, what can you expect from an $8 game.