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Mad Tracks

We prefer "Emotionally Disturbed Tracks".

Let me tell you the story about the time I did the final race of Adventure mode in Mad Tracks. It was a single lap race, taking place on an "Oh God I so desperately want to be Micro Machines, why can't I be Micro Machines?" track in a bedroom, littered with dominos and toy soldiers.

First go: I was far in the lead from the very start, mashing my l33t skills in their stupid AI faces. The track broadens out into a more open area on the bedroom floor, with a ramp ahead and arrows pointing to the left. Up the ramp I go, and head toward the archway in the distance. "Lost?" the screen asks me. "Uh, no, I'm fine thanks." The Lost query appears when you've left the track as a warning you'll be reset to the last checkpoint any moment. But the track was ahead of me, and there were bonus pick-ups littered all over it. So being reset to the last checkpoint, and indeed last place, was a wincy bit annoying.

Second go: It turns out you're not meant to go up the ramp with the big yellow arrows next to it. Silly me! You're meant to meander across the floor, dodging balls and so on, and enter the archway by this route. In I go, in a strong first place, and then hit a wall. You see, the walls, floors and ceiling are all the same blue, and there's no obvious direction to go in. Since the cars steer like dragging a dustbin bag full of semolina through a swimming pool of thick custard, manoeuvring my way to stumble into the correct direction put me back in last place.

Play with your friends. See if they really love you.

Third go: This time I'm through the tunnel successfully, and then crash into the giant metal door that blocks the way, breaking it so all the other cars can sail past and beat me.

Fourth go: I fall off a high ramp very early on. My fault entirely. I'm likely to lose now, so try to find the "restart" button. I can't find it. (Apparently it's on the 'back' button). I finish the race for the sake of practice.

Fifth go: The AI has remarkable reflexes. Not for driving - that's more like the racing skills of a drunken walrus with his flippers tied together - but for its recognition of a power-up and the speed with which it's dispensed. In the same microsecond that it's collected, it's fired off. So on the first bend I'm flung off the track and put far into last place. I then screw it up, and I'm further behind. Sigh, I think, and decide to muck around. I play with the trillions of pick-ups it gives, firing rockets into the air, and trying to work out what the wheel thing on the roof does. And then I was back at that false ramp bit. I thought I'd stop and see if the arrows were as confusing as I'd thought. They kind of are, and the ramp is totally inviting. And there were pick-ups up there! That looked at, I dawdled through the tunnels, again annoyed at the lack of direction, then saw in front of me the other four cars. Um, hello! That stupid door explodes splattering all four of them toward the walls, letting me slide straight through and win gold! So that's how you do it!

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Mad Tracks

Xbox 360, PC

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John Walker