A guest review by Barnes

Top down racing games? They're old hat right? They died out with the Amiga and MegaDrive right? Well I thought so too. I had Micro Machines on my Game Gear and Skid marks on my Amiga and spent many hours playing the top down goodness, driving jeeps, tanks, helicopters, boats and other craaaaaaazy (maybe a little too much crazy?) vehicles around a variety of house hold arenas.

I always looked forward to games like this, they were a good laugh, being an only child these games always had much more life when played with a friend (remember this point, I'll return later) Unfortunately, as games developed and graphics improved, the emphasis moved away from top down racers and went more to real life simulation driving games, Daytona Racing being the first I can remember that really impressed me as a gamer.

Now Mashed has returned my mind to top down racers and I have to say it's such a welcome return! Mashed is a racing game in the old skool sense, (everything fades to sepia and I drift off to reminisce) it reminds me of simpler times when games were addictively simple.

Mashed takes place over 13 tracks, each level has a different vehicle whose handling is slightly different to the others but not impossible to master, there are various game modes on each level, and it can either be played single or multi player.

This is where mashed comes into its own, as a single player game its ok, it'll keep you entertained for a while, I'd give any decent racing gamer about 5 hours to unlock every circuit and race mode and I think they'd do it. However, it's using these game modes in multiplayer that really brings mashed into its own, I read a review somewhere that stated "mashed, spilt drinks and snacks are what makes a party", it's true, this game has an almost limitless shelf life as a party game.

So to the game modes.

There are various game modes in mashed, those familiar with micro machines will understand the basis of a battle game. Up to four people race against each other, each player starts with four points if you fall up to a screen behind you will be eliminated from the battle, the last on screen gets a point from the first to be eliminated (i.e. if two people race, after the first battle the score will be 5-3 on points, Get it?), first to 8 points wins!

Simple, other game modes are capture the flag is a battle race where someone has a flag, to get the flag you ram them to steal it, last on screen with the flag gets the point.

Fugitive is where you team up on an opponent who has to escape from you, only the fugitive can score points so this game can last a while!

Now, you may be thinking that the game modes may get repetitive, but the producers of mashed have made a genius addition to liven up the game play. Weaponry is available as pickups and there are some ace things you can use! Ranging from homing missiles, mortars, shotguns, landmines, oil slicks, flash bangs and miniguns, they are all implemented into the game well and really spice things up!

On top of this, in games of more than two players the added ability is of an air strike. Yes, you heard right, an air strike! If you are the first to be eliminated, you can use a simple targeting reticule to lock on to an opponent, be it the leader or simply the player who knocked you off the track, revenge is sweet!!!

Graphically the levels are highly detailed and very well put together, the cars lack great detail and are really just large coloured markers but when you race top down with a large gap between you and your opponent, you can't see much so a bit block of colour is exactly what you need!

In single player the AI can be brutal, when playing in a team battle you will find that your opponents will ram you mercilessly off the circuit and if they can one or two will sacrifice themselves to take you out whilst a third will rush on ahead to take the winning point, it can be frustrating but ultimately satisfying when you beat them into submission!

Mashed is a good game, it has a simple premise that is executed well, it has a limited shelf life as a single player but a real challenge and almost limitless game play with your mates!

This is an after the pub game if ever I saw one, so get down the shops, buy some snacks, a few drinks, get some friends and buy mashed, you won't be disappointed!