Categories: Games reviews

Mini Motorways review for Nintendo Switch: I think I am addicted

Game addiction is not something I am very familiar with: as a reviewer, I can’t afford to be drawn into one game for weeks on end. And yet, with Mini Motorways, I find myself unable to put it down. Yes, it seems that Dinosaur Polo Club has done it again.

That’s where I have to remind you that Mini Motorways is not a new game. In fact, it’s been available on Apple Arcade ever since September 2019, and that’s when I first tried it. But, being a stout critic of subscription models, I stopped playing as soon as my freebie stopped working. I was sad, but I moved on — there are always new games to be played.

And so I waited, cursing Apple for not allowing me to buy the game the old-fashioned way. I had to wait a few years, but it’s finally here. And while the iPad is a perfect way of experiencing Mini Motorways, I was not averse to trying it on Nintendo Switch.

If you have played Mini Metro, the idea is similar: you have a colourful interpretation of a transport system, your task — to build a citywide network able to withstand the ever-growing number of passengers. But while Mini Metro was imitating real-life metro maps, Mini Motorways imitates Mini Metro. Yes, the idea isn’t as fresh, but the gameplay is as addictive as ever — maybe even more so.

Every new game starts with a big building and a small garage. Connect the two, and the cars will start moving, transporting pins that represent people. Soon you’ll have other differently-coloured buildings, and the idea is that colours shouldn’t meet. They will, of course: Mini Motorways always puts houses and garages in the worst places possible, screwing your whole immaculately designed system. No matter how hard you try to make everything perfect, it’s going to crumble sooner or later. For me, who is quite bad at the game (journalists, right?), this moment usually happens when I have about 1000 pins. That is when the game becomes unreasonable, throwing everything at you in too short a time. You heard me right: it’s the game’s fault, not mine!

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The brilliance of Mini Motorways is that it reinvents the strategy genre, making the typically niche area of gaming accessible to all. It looks simple and offers extremely straightforward controls. This welcoming nature contrasts with most of the other alternatives.

There’s more to Mini Motorways than simply connecting dots: every Sunday, you get to choose a set of new goodies, which matters a lot. Will you choose yet another bridge and 20 roads or risk with ten roads and a motorway? Motorways are extremely useful, acting as a kind of a bridge that goes both over water and buildings and other roads. It can be a lifesaver later in the game, but it can also leave you without means of connecting new buildings with roads.

There are other items: tunnels that go through mountains, traffic lights that help avoid traffic jams (up to a point), and roundabouts that can free up busy intersections.

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Mini Motorways doesn’t offer much when it comes to content: there aren’t that many items to play with, and the amount of cities isn’t that impressive. But what is there is first-rate: maps are sufficiently different from each other (even compared to Mini Metro) and offer nice little touches. Like, in the Rio map, you can actually see the shadow of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Visually and audibly, it’s about the same package as Mini Metro. Thanks to new colour schemes, it looks better (I am angry at the lack of the true black mode for those lucky Switch OLED owners though), and it runs fine on Nintendo Switch, although I experienced a few crashes — thankfully, the auto-save feature helped. Soundtrack-wise it’s still the same thing: don’t expect actual music, as it’s more of a mix of various soundbites created with the help of Disasterpeace. It… works, as these abstract sounds can’t possibly get repetitive. You have to give it to Dinosaur Polo Club — their games are incredibly recognizable.

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Verdict

As a game for a portable, Mini Motorways comes close to perfection. Especially for $14,99! It’s an addictive and incredibly satisfying experience. The game runs perfectly fine on the Switch, offering both physical and touch controls. The bigger screen of the iPad is even better, but I wouldn’t say that you sacrifice much. At least you can actually buy it now.

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Denis Koshelev

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