Reviews Monster Energy Supercross Nintendo Switch review

Reviews

Martin Bigg

Writer

Posted on

Game: Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame

Platform: PC, PS4, XBox One

Publisher: Milestone S.r.l

Release Date: 13/02/2018

MXGP 3 won our award for the best bike game released in 2017, but the Nintendo Switch version, Milestone’s first release on Nintendo’s hybrid console, was a shockingly bad port. The blurry visuals made it look like the textures weren’t loading properly, the frame rate was unstable, and core features found in other versions were sorely missing –  despite the game being priced as an AAA title.

This year, Milestone released Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame, which was the best video game representation of supercross in years. Like MXGP 3, Monster Energy Supercross has also been given the Nintendo Switch treatment, but has Milestone learned any lessons from MXGP 3’s shoddy port?

Seeing things more clearly

The good news is that the Nintendo Switch version of Monster Energy Supercross is nowhere near as bad MXGP 3. Visually, the game still suffers from noticeable downgrades and lacks the polish of other versions, but textures look sharper than MXGP 3’s bewilderingly blurry tracks and riders. Pop-in that plagued MXGP 3 is virtually gone, and the frame rate is significantly smoother. Like the PS4 and Xbox One versions, there’s still some slowdown at the start of the race when the riders pile into each other on the first corner, but Monster Energy Supercross runs at a mostly consistent frame rate on Nintendo’s platform.

Monster Energy Supercross Nintnedo Switch screenshot

There’s no track deformation sadly, resulting in ground textures that look flat and uninspired, but this omission is less noticeable than it was in MXGP 3 since it plays a less pivotal role in races. Low anti-aliasing makes particle effects and pyrotechnics leave a lot to be desired, but the overall presentation is clearly an improvement over MXGP 3, and there are no obvious compromises when running in handheld mode either. But saying the game looks better than MXGP 3 is faint praise – Monster Energy Supercross still looks like a last-generation game running on Nintendo Switch and is hardly pushing the system to its limits. As other third-party developers have shown, the Switch’s hardware can produce awe-inspiring graphics – just look at what Shin’en Multimedia achieved with FAST RMX.

Fortunately, the controls are tight and responsive when using the analogue sticks to control the bike and shift the rider’s weight, while applying the rear brake to slide around tight turns and pulling off whips and scrubs over jumps is just as satisfying as it is in other versions of the game.

Monster Energy Supercross Nintendo Switch screenshot

Don’t think the controls have been dumbed down for the Switch, either. There’s a refreshing amount of depth rarely seen in Switch racing games – you won’t get away with keeping your thumb planted on the accelerator and powersliding around every corner like in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. As with other versions, successfully landing a jump in each US stadium requires you to shift your rider’s weight accordingly. It’s a decidedly different style of racing to MXGP 3’s wide open tracks.

Case a jump, and you’ll lose momentum and speed. It makes for a refreshingly challenging experience that most Switch racing games lack, though the more casual players the console is aimed at may struggle adjusting to the difficulty. Luckily, a range of riding assists is available to ease the difficulty, while a rewind system enables you to correct mistakes while you hone your skills. It’s a steep learning curve that may frustrate at first, but persevere and Monster Energy Supercross transforms into a thoroughly rewarding bike racer that takes skill to truly master.

Monster Energy Supercross Nintendo Switch screenshot

Where Monster Energy Supercross really shines, however, is in its extensive customisation options. Everything from your rider’s gloves and goggles, to your bike’s handlebars can be customised with gear and parts from licensed manufacturers, and mechanical components can also be upgraded. Monster Energy Supercross sets new standards for customisation in bike games, and none of these options have been removed in the Switch version.

Super cross

Unfortunately, while the Nintendo Switch version of Monster Energy Supercross is an improvement over MXGP 3 in some areas, there are still some unforgiveable omissions. Once again, the number of on-screen riders has been cut from 22 down to 12, reducing the intensity of the races. Milestone hasn’t even attempted to hide the rider reduction at the start of the race – the remaining gates have simply been left empty.

One of the most innovative features in the console and PC versions of Monster Energy Supercross was its powerful track editor allowing you to create your own supercross circuits that could be shared with other players. Sadly, it’s been removed from the Switch version. Even Excitebike 64 included a track editor over two decades ago. Had it included a track editor, Monster Energy Supercross would have filled the void left by Excitebike, as Nintendo hasn’t announced any new games in the series for the Switch. It’s such a missed opportunity.

Then there’s the complete lack of online and local multiplayer. The Switch was designed to be played with friends, with detachable controllers allowing you to enjoy local multiplayer matches anytime, anywhere. To not include any form of multiplayer whatsoever is a total travesty – particularly when other versions of the game support online multiplayer for up to 12 players. Selling Monster Energy Supercross at full price when it’s missing a core feature seems hard to justify. In fact, most retailers are charging more for the Switch version.

Monster Energy Supercross captures the thrills of the sport on the Switch and the optimisation has improved since MXGP 3, but the lack of track editor and multiplayer ultimately lets it down. With these lackluster ports, Milestone’s future with the system looks uncertain. MXGP Pro won’t be getting a Switch version, meaning that Milestone’s next, and possibly last, release on Nintendo’s hybrid console will be MotoGP 18. Let’s sincerely hope it doesn’t have as many missing core features as MXGP 3 and Monster Energy Supercross.

Our Review

6 /10

The good

  • Tight and responsive controls.
  • Intense supercross racing.
  • Extensive customisation.

The bad

  • No track editor.
  • No online multiplayer.
  • Downgraded graphics.
  • Reduced number of AI opponents.

Summary

Monster Energy Supercross captures the thrills of the sport on the Switch and the optimisation has improved since MXGP 3, but the lack of track editor and multiplayer ultimately lets it down. With these lackluster ports, Milestone’s future with the system looks uncertain. MXGP Pro won’t be getting a Switch version, meaning that Milestone’s next, and possibly last, release on Nintendo’s hybrid console will be MotoGP 18. Let’s sincerely hope it doesn’t have as many missing core features as MXGP 3 and Monster Energy Supercross.

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