Monster Jam: Crush It!
Release Date: October 31, 2017 (US)
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Developer: TEAM-6
Genre: Racing, Sports
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MSRP: $39.99

Monster Jam is back, bringing its latest iteration to the Nintendo Switch console. Originally released in October 2016, Monster Jam: Crush It! brings back the thrill of being at a monster truck rally. Along with it are all of the licensed vehicles as well as real world stadiums that any monster truck fan will recognize. Though new to the Monster Jam Series, TEAM-6, the developer behind the game, is no stranger to racing simulators. Having developed games such as FlatOut 3, Fiat 500, FlatOut Stuntman, and the upcoming Road Rage, they definitely have a lot of credibility. Unfortunately, Monster Jam: Crush It! misses the mark on several key features that should exist in a racing sim, and makes it more tedious than it is rewarding.


Licensing for most popular monster trucks are here. Except Bigfoot. Where’s Bigfoot?

Crush It!
Monster Jam: Crush It! puts you in the driver seat of a variety of trucks from the popular monster truck circuit. Big names such as Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, Monster Mutt, and more are available in game. Unfortunately, no matter what truck you select, stats are not impacted, as vehicle selection is purely cosmetic. The game play is super simple: one button to accelerate forward, one button to reverse/brake. You can also add “fireworks” in some game modes for a little flare when doing stunts.

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You would think that the controls would be easy to manage, but to my disappointment, they only function part of the time. I found myself having to repeatedly repress buttons for the game to register going forward or backward. The steering controls aren’t any better, as it would feel like I was driving in mud or ice at times, or turns wouldn’t register at all, much like the button presses. The physics are also quite unrealistic, as sometimes I would be slung into a wall or obstacle, sending vertically or sideways, that would be no way possible in real life.

Though there are only four game modes, each are distinctive, and challenge the player with different objectives.

Stadium Races
This the main event that players will become familiar with, being the first option on the main title screen. After selecting a truck, the player is pitted with one or multiple opponents in a closed arena. The arenas are based on real life Monster Jam stadiums, and are available in several variations. The objective is for the player to go through checkpoints within the arena, ultimately making it to the finish line. Obstacles such as barriers, broken down cars, and of course, other monster trucks, adding to the difficulty of reaching your objective. The stages are short. And I mean real short. Each stage takes a maximum of about 15 seconds to complete, with some that are completed within 10 seconds. Meaning one slight mistake, or game glitch, can ruin your attempt. For the most part, you either beat the stage rather quickly, or after 1-2 attempts, learn the path and easily move on the next stage.

Stadium Freestyle
Definitely the lengthiest event of Monster Jam: Crush It! Is the Freestyle mode. These events allow you to freely drive your monster truck within the same arenas from Stadium Races mode, and perform stunts for points. Stunts include: making a jump, front flip, back flip, and wheelie. Rinse and repeat for each stage. You have 60 seconds to begin to get as many points as possible to achieve a rank. That’s right: 60 seconds. Once again, this is the longest mode in the game. If you reach certain amount of points in some stages, you have a chance to gain an additional 30 seconds to your time. This doesn’t actually do you a favor, as your vehicle is constantly taking damage while performing stunts. So if 30 seconds were given, I would have to stop performing stunts or risk getting “WASTED” and having to start over.

Hill Climb
Out of the 4 game play modes, I actually enjoyed Hill Climb. It is similar to  Trials HD or Joe Danger game play, where you control a monster truck on a set track from an angled perspective. The goal is to time precisely how to approach a jump or other stunt-related obstacles and make it to the finish line. Within the game mode are 3 ways to challenge the player: time attack, stunt, and survival. Most stages are not too difficult, but there were times that seemed broken, as some obstacles relied more on luck rather than skill. But the environments were more interesting than the typical arenas that the majority of the game is staged in.

Hill Climb was the most interesting thing about this game.

Crash Mode
This mode, though unique compared to regular game play, was rather dull and boring. Each stage would put you in a particular scenario and objective. Some tested your skill to maneuver in a loop-de-loop, make a huge jump, and even drive through a grocery store and damage as much as possible. What is odd about this game play mode is the way the game considers an accomplishment to continue on to the next stage. Each stage is point based, and I even scored a “0” at times, not at all completing the intended objective, and would still be given a “good job” and be allowed to continue on to the next stage. I feel that this game mode could have been a lot more detailed and exciting.


 

Portable Jam
The majority of my playtime with Monster Jam: Crush It! was played in handheld mode on my Switch. I can definitely say that it was easy and quick to pick a game mode, and beat several events in a short amount of time. And that is one of the issues I have with the game: time. For the price point, you won’t find a lot of replayability, as accomplishments such as Gold and Platinum medals require next to no skill or commitment to bettering yourself at the game. Rewards are essentially thrown at you, perhaps in an attempt to cover up the many other flaws in the game. But personally, since unlockables are only cosmetic, I didn’t feel the need to unlock rewards that actually did require a certain success requirement. The control issues are unforgivable, and the way that vehicles reacted in the arena environments were frustrating.

A Monstrous Disaster
Monster Jam: Crush It! could have filled a gap in what the Switch does not have in its current library. Monster Jam at its peak feels like a shovel ware port or even a mobile game. I can definitely say that it is a great time waster for commutes and travel, and a distraction perfect for the young ones. But for $40, there are a lot better investments out there that are more satisfying, and even function as intended.

THE GOOD
Easy to pick up and play
Recommended for on the go
THE BAD
Poor physics
Short, simplistic game modes
Faulty controls
5
Mediocre

Review Summary

It was nice that the publisher thought to bring Monster Jam: Crush It! to the Nintendo Switch. But with its buggy controls and lackluster game play, these factors make it near impossible to play and one I certainly do not recommend.

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