Review – Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame

You know a franchise I miss? Excitebike. The Nintendo 64 version of that game was one of the best racing titles for that console. The simple controls and addictive gameplay resulted in a great title, but sadly enough, we haven’t heard anything from the franchise ever since. Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame was a title I was actually looking forward to a bit due to its developer’s pedigree (Milestone, the ones behind the Valentio Rossi game) and the chance to finally play something that resembled Excitebike 64 in any way on a Nintendo platform. Sadly, Monster Energy Supercross turned out to be, at the very best, a below average game, and at worst, a massive disappointment.

monster1Shadows are nowhere to be seen

Things weren’t off to a good start the moment the game booted up. After an insanely long loading screen (to the point I thought the game had crashed), I was instantly thrown into a race. Ironically enough, I was controlling a guy wearing a Red Bull jacket in a Monster-endorsed game. This initial race showcased everything wrong with the game in the first 5 minutes. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

monster5Great textures!

For starters, the visuals. Monster Energy Supercross features one of the ugliest graphical settings I’ve ever seen in a console game, especially from this generation. I’m very aware that the Switch isn’t a powerhouse and that its hardware is basically derived from mobile technology, but for crying out loud, I know the console can pull out better stuff than this! If anything, Doom was a great example of how to port complex visuals into a Switch cartridge, even with all the system’s limitations. This game’s visuals are just hideous to look at. Bad lighting effects, a very subpar framerate (be happy if you manage to average 20 fps), and above all, the textures. Dear goodness, those things are bad bad bad bad BAD. When the game decides to properly load them, it might take up to 10 seconds for such a feat to happen. When the game can’t be bothered to do so (and that’s less infrequent than you imagine), the textures look like when you try to run a current AAA game on the lowest specs possible on a Windows XP computer. It’s hideous.

monster2“I don’t feel so well…”

The other very bad aspect is the gameplay. While I understand Monster Energy Supercross tries to appeal to a more simulation-friendly audience, with more complex controls, it really gives you hell in the first race by basically not teaching you any of the various complex mechanics, such as the two types of brake (front and back), the weight distribution system (the only way you’ll properly perform sharp turns), the clutch at the beginning of each race, and so on. In fact, the game forces you to actually finish this race before you’re even able to access the tutorial mode.

That wouldn’t be much of a problem if the controls and the physics were good, but sadly, they’re not. The analog controls are very twitchy, clunky, and unresponsive. At times, the slightest touch of the analog stick will make your bike fly away, and at other times, the hardest push won’t make your bike move an inch to the side. The physics are also very cumbersome, resulting in an unpleasant experience.

monster3This sums up my experience with this game pretty well

After the painfully unforgiving initial race, you’ll finally be able to properly explore everything this game has to offer, and to be fair, it’s quite a lot. There’s a character editor, a bike editor, lots of different tracks, a very extensive career mode, a huge amount of unlockables, and a great soundtrack. Sadly, even though the game has a lot to offer, its technical issues are too big for anyone to ignore. In fact, they basically make the game not fun to play at all.

monster6That’s right, my butt ain’t for sale!

I can see the potential in Monster Energy Supercross, but I can also see how definitely not ready for launch it was, at least for the Switch. The hideous visuals, poor framerate, wonky physics, and complicated controls make the game too frustrating for both arcade enthusiasts and simulation fans. I’m pretty sure other versions of this game for other platforms are much better than this Switch iteration, so make sure to go after them instead. Portability alone isn’t enough to guarantee a purchase when the rest of the game is so below average.

Graphics: 2.5

The animations might be great, but the textural quality and framerate are simply unacceptable.

Gameplay: 4.5

The controls are quite complex and twitchy, with two brake buttons and a weight distribution mechanic that make the game very arcade-unfriendly and cumbersome. The physics are also big issues.

Sound: 8.5

The one genuinely good thing in this game. The sound effects are good, the commentaries are decent, and the metal soundtrack is catchy.

Fun Factor: 5.0

Due to the technical issues, long loading times, and complicated controls, the game isn’t as entertaining as it should be.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC