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MENA Speed

MENA Speed
Mini, Racing
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Quirkat is not a first-timer on the Minis platform. You may not know this, but earlier this year, they released a bundle of quirky (sorry for the awful pun) ultra-niche titles: the Basha card games. These card games require a lot of patience to learn and a lot of effort to actually enjoy them. It is effectively required that you are familiar with the card games, since starting with them from scratch is like learning a new language. Quirkat is a Jordanian game studio passionately producing games with local color. Mena Speed is a drag racing game proudly featuring Middle East locations. The Basha card games indeed are straight card games, but consider yourself warned: Mena Speed is a drag racing game that is not about drag racing, technically. It’s outlandish to hear that, right? But it isn’t, it truly isn’t. You won’t be driving your car literally. Mena Speed is not a racing game in the strictest terms. How do I relay this? Well, Mena Speed is a pen-and-paper drag racing game—I myself cannot believe what I just wrote. There’s a race, but your adrenal glands can take a vacation. Mena Speed is more of a rhythm game without the music, a skill-based game without needing your skills, a racing game without a steering wheel. You don’t necessarily have a long distance to drive when you are drag racing, nor is there a need to have great controls over your car, because all you have to do is sprint in a straight line, but Mena Speed does not have anything even related to those issues. The core gameplay of this Mini is original in a sense that is wildly different from what I would have imagined, but it unfortunately doesn’t offer much depth or at least even a semblance of entertainment. Here’s how it goes: before you go racing, you are greeted with a monochrome image of a wheel, which you have to pummel the X button in order to spin, and you have to do it fast and quick, since the time limit is only a few seconds. It tunes up the wheel, I guess. In the race itself, well, you must press the face button that appears on the screen. There are two bars on the screen, too, one indicating your timing and the other your opponent’s. Red means you/the AI sucked, orange is OK and green is perfect. And that’s it. You just have to beat the enemy in that regard. There’s an upgrade system that artificially adds to the dimensions of this bare-boned game. Sure, there’s also a career mode that offers progression, but its design is severely flawed. The parts are too expensive, so that you have to grind yourself up. For example, you can only win $1,000 per race in the opening races of your career, but then you have to upgrade some of the parts that cost several thousand dollars per piece in order to unlock the next city or event. The game is not fun in the first place, so why torture myself further? The structuring of the career mode also suffers from lack of challenge, as the AI is poor so that as soon as you upgrade, you are equipped to deal with your opponents in dominating fashion. Also, the menus are unintuitive and slow for a game that only lasts for a few seconds. Monochrome Racing’s menu is much worse, but this does not mean that those of this game are excused for being atrocious. The upgrades and aesthetic additions are limited, as well. I am the type who needs racing games to have superb graphics. “Serious” racing games (in the sense of using licensed or realistic cars instead of cartoonish characters) need to impress the player with details and such. All right, I admit, I am not a fan of racing games, so I justify a racing game’s worth by its bleeding edge graphics. Mena Speed’s graphics are not good. Sound department, it’s all right, but the music is an annoying loop of…I have a question, do racing games have to feature guitar riffs of garage-bandish proportions? Mena Speed is a game that I wanted to like, but I can’t. It’s weird, but not in a funny way or a cute way. Still, I do have some reservations. Some of you readers disagreed with me when I reviewed Monochrome Racing, so take this review with a grain of salt. It’s a moderately priced Mini, and there may be a certain group that embraces this game. But for the commoners, I doubt they will.
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