Must Dash Amigos
Developed By: MINIBEAST
Published By: MINIBEAST
Category: Arcade, Multiplayer, Party, Racing
Release Date: 12.05.19
Must Dash Amigos for the Nintendo Switch is the first release from UK-based developer MINIBEAST. The game, whose art design is heavily influenced by Mexican culture, marries racing mechanics with arena brawlers, an experiment that results in some fairly interesting gameplay that doesn’t quite strike a balance between the two genres. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything worthwhile here – on the contrary, the game is rather fun, and the vibrant visuals paper over some small holes in the gameplay.
Must Dash, Mustache… I Get It
Must Dash Amigos is almost like two games in one – one is a racing game not unlike a Mario Kart-lite, the other an arena brawler. The gameplay controls are the same for both, only the objectives change. Every level has items scattered around in piñatas, like speed boosts, ridable bulls, and burrito missile launchers. We’ll talk about the racing portions first. The two single-player modes of the game are both influenced by traditional racing game modes. First you have your time trials, where you race against the clock to obtain a gold, silver, or bronze trophy depending on your time.
You also have track challenges, where each track tasks you with completing one of the three different challenge types for a trophy. Double Trouble challenges you to complete a lap while controlling two racers at once, Danger Dodging asks you to outrun a stampede of angry piñata bulls, and Master Catcher wants you to chase down and catch a magic piñata. The single player modes are fine, but the replayability is pretty limited. Once you collect all the trophies, there’s really nothing left to accomplish. So that means the meat of the game comes from its multiplayer aspects.
Amigos Means Friends
Multiplayer – which is local-only – technically has three different game modes, but the third is actually a combination of the first two. First up you have the straight-up race mode, which as I mentioned earlier is a lot like a light Mario Kart clone. Up to four players run around the track, trying to blow each other up. It’s… actually not really a race, since finishing laps doesn’t get you anything. You just follow the track in a running kill or be killed melee, which is actually pretty fun. You can kill your opponents either with weapons collected along the track or by advancing the screen past them. I kind of would have liked to see a real racing mode for the game, but this changes up the formula enough to be more interesting than a traditional racing mode anyway so I won’t complain too hard.
Battle mode pretty much discards any pretense of this being a racing game and fully embraces the game’s arena brawler mechanics. It’s a little less engaging than the race mode, if only because it feels a little less original. Finally, the Tourney mode sees players competing in groups of levels one after another without a break in between (like, yes, Mario Kart’s tournament mode). The different levels of Tourney either ask you to complete just the races in a particular area or all the races and all the battles.
Location, Location, Location
Speaking of the game’s different areas, Must Dash Amigos features four different locales, each with three different race tracks and two different battle arenas. The race tracks also feature as the levels for the single-player modes; there’s no way to play the battle arenas single-player. Still, that’s twenty different maps overall, which isn’t bad for an indie. The four area themes (desert, jungle, island, and city) each feature different environmental challenges and hazards which make each area and stage feel unique, which in turn makes the game feel bigger and more varied than if every area played the same but just had a different aesthetic.
The Short Road to Unlocking Your Potential
The character roster, on the other hand, is fairly lacking. There are only four characters to choose, with a total of five skins apiece. Three of those skins are just the other characters’ costumes, so the roster gets pretty same-y pretty quickly. Furthermore, the characters don’t really play all that differently from what I can gather, which feels like a let-down as well. Furthermore, those few skins are really the only unlockables, which further limits the replayability of the game. That’s fine if you play party games with other people a lot, but for those of us (I won’t mention myself by name) who don’t tend to have people to play with very often, the game will lose its luster fairly quickly.
A Taste of Mexico From the UK
The game’s visual design is colorful, cartoony, and fun with sound design to match. As I mentioned in the open, the game’s aesthetic is heavily influenced by Mexican culture, and I think it captures the vibrant spirit of that culture very well. The characters (as few as there are) are charming and endearing, despite having virtually no development as characters. Sure, you get a few different exclamations during the gameplay, but that’s hardly enough to call character development. The sound design is lively and upbeat, effortlessly creating a welcoming party atmosphere from the moment the main menu loads.
Come Play, Amigos
Must Dash Amigos presents a lot of cool ideas. The idea of mixing a Mario Kart-like racer with an arena brawler is pretty interesting, and the mashup mostly pays off. It does ignore the racing portion of that formula a little too much, so if you’re looking for a game with strong racing elements maybe this one isn’t for you. The levels are well-designed and each one feels distinct, making the game feel fresh every time you boot it up. The character roster is fairly limited, however, and there isn’t much here for people without a large group of local gaming friends to play with. Still, Must Dash Amigos does enough things right to be worth some attention on game night.
Buy Must Dash Amigos
*A game code was provided for review purposes.