«

»

Mini Motorways review for Nintendo Switch, PC


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Dinosaur Polo Club
Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

I don’t think there’s any way that Mini Motorways wasn’t going to be at least a bit of a let-down for me. After all, it’s the sequel (to the extent city-planning games can have sequels) to Mini Metro, which is one of my all-time puzzle games. While it’s totally possible that the developers could strike gold twice in a row, odds were good that Mini Motorways wasn’t going to be quite as good as Mini Metro.

And, unfortunately, it’s not. While the concept is similar to Mini Metro – you’re just planning roads in Mini Motorways instead of planning subway lines – the execution feels a little bit off. Mini Metro worked because it demanded that you build as efficiently as possible; new points would spring up, and you needed to work them all into your system so that everything connected smoothly. There was something zen about getting your city’s subway system to a point where everything just went around and around and back and forth, imaginary people being shuttled to and from their destinations in never-ending loops.

Mini Motorways, by contrast, feels a lot messier. The cities here spring up in seemingly haphazard fashion: a house here, a house next door, then a house on the other side of the city. You’re connecting them to larger buildings (factories? stores?) that have parking lots, but often only have one entrance/exit. Where Mini Metro felt like an ode to well-made, well-planned cities, Mini Motorways – intentional or not – is more like a warning about the dangers of urban sprawl.

Further, while Mini Motorways may look and sound like Mini Metro, with minimalistic beats, bright colours, and sharp lines, it doesn’t have the same relaxed vibe. Where Mini Metro could get a little hectic if you allowed it to, Mini Motorways gets to a frantic pace almost immediately. Houses and large buildings pop up out of nowhere, and the colours you need to connect often find themselves at opposite ends of the city. You may get to add in features like roundabouts and highways and traffic lights and bridges, but placing them often feels like guesswork.

It also doesn’t help that Mini Motorways doesn’t allow you to take the drastic step of completely eliminating your whole system mid-game and rebuilding it – which, truthfully, became my go-to move in Mini Metro whenever things started looking dire. Part of this is because of how it’s designed: houses all need driveways, and some items seemingly can’t be removed once they’re placed. On top of that, though, it’s much harder to zoom in and out in Mini Motorways, which means you’re often stuck removing very small sections when you try to edit – and, annoyingly, it’s very easy to accidentally place roads if your finger slips in the process.

Obviously, if Mini Motorways is actually intended to be a subtle critique of how dystopian car-centred cities are, then it absolutely succeeds at that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

More likely, though, Mini Motorways is simply an attempt to apply the Mini Metro formula to roads instead of subways. While it hits some of the same notes – and it would undoubtedly be much easier to embrace if it didn’t have such an insanely great predecessor to live up to – it’s simply not quite as good. That still means it’s better made than most other puzzle games, but if you’re hoping for the next Mini Metro, Mini Motorways isn’t quite it.

Dinosaur Polo Club provided us with a Mini Motorways Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B