Grab a helmet; you're gonna need it.
Review written by
April 17th, 2013
If you've ever felt the urge to strap on a pair of skates and go for a roll with the gang from 'Monster High,' small time games developer Little Orbit has just released a little something to curb that craving, though to say it will be satisfied may be a bit of a stretch. Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze for Nintendo 3DS, a video game extension of a franchise based on the characters from a Mattel toy line aimed at young girls, offers a truly monstrous racing experience that could have benefited greatly from a little more effort.
The premise of the characters and setting may hold more appeal for younger audiences who are dedicated fans of the franchise (which, admittedly, I had never heard of before this game was released), but the average gamer just looking to pick up a decent racing game certainly has better options to choose from.
There are few racers and courses available at the start of the game, with the bulk of the content needing to be unlocked. The tracks must be unlocked in each of the two main game modes separately; unlocking a set in Circuit mode will not unlock the same set in Relay, though they will be unlocked for the freestyle quick races. Most of the courses are fairly simple, mostly open stretches of track with a small handful of obstacles each, and offer very little challenge at all on the easiest difficult. I would recommend starting off on the medium or high difficulties- if those, too, did not have to be unlocked.
Circuit and Relay are the only major racing modes in the game, and are nearly identical anyway. The only major difference is that circuit requires you to expend the effort of constantly pressing the button to change racers, whereas Relay automatically uses a different racer for each lap.
The racing mechanics are limited. The game lets you choose your own team of three racers. Characters are divided into weight classes, but the impact on performance and handling is negligible. Mostly, you see a lot of characters just bumping into each other on crowded maps, especially at the start of the race. There are small floating coffins on the path that grant items, such as a bucket of water or hurtling book, to (theoretically) impede other racers. The effectiveness of these items is limited at the best of times, making them more of an annoyance than a resource. Each character available also has his or her own unique special ability. These can also serve to impede other racers (which really doesn't do much when you are already way ahead in first place on the low difficulty courses) or temporarily speed your character across the track. The abilities are limited by a rechargeable meter that is filled by collecting coins on the course.
The game itself is not bad at all; rather, it is simply overwhelmingly mediocre. From the limited characters and game modes, to the dull visuals and grating audio tracks, to the uninspired mechanics which appear to be a completely unabashed knock off of the classic Mario Kart. The experience improves slightly with unlocking the more advanced (for lack of a better word, as everything in this game is decidedly geared toward very young players) courses and difficulty levels.
All in all, Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze is a game with very little substance. It may suit the interests of those looking for a simple distraction (though the retail price is a bit steep for that), but it fails to live up to the standards set by even the blander titles of the genre.
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