YEE HAW. Maaaaa, buckle the seat belts it's time to plow the back 40 with the pickup truck. Of course pa forgot to tell ma that the pickup truck was a fire breathing Monster Truck and she'd need a step ladder ta climb inta da ting. And dat splat she heard mighta been either Esther the family cow or the family station wagon. Ok, before I get into serious trouble with the animal rights people here enough joking around :).

Monster Truck Madness is an arcade game, not a simulation. That needs to be made clear up front. But it is still a very nice game for a good change of pace from Indy Car and Nascar racing and has some nice features to it.

MTM allows for play in 4 different venues. Drag racing, circuit, rally and tournament. Drag racing is a head to head competition involving 4 trucks. Two trucks race at a time in a single elimination event where the race winners meet in a championship drag race. Drag racing venues available are BC Place, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the RCA Dome, Tacoma Dome and the Trans-World Dome.

The Circuit is a road racing venue on several different styles of courses from mountain terrains to backwood roads. Each track offers a different challenge to the driver. The tracks are crazy 8 (with one very nice jump), canyon adventure (with some very narrow racing surfaces surrounded by canyon walls), Mud Pies, Round and Round and Winding Way (which is a backwoods treat to race on with wooden bridges).

The Rally is very similar to the circuit racing in that it is also road course racing, but here the tracks are longer. The tracks are Arizona (desert setting), Highlands and Yucatan (where you go through a volano flow).

Finally the Tournament is a mixture of the various different races available. It is similar to a championship season in Nascar or Indy Car racing. For example, The Monster Truck Triathalon gives you the rollowing 3 races in a season: drag at the Transworld Dome, Circuit Race at Winding Way and Rally at Yucatan. You have the ability to create your own tournaments as well.

Some things about the game were dissappoint however. First you can only race against 7 opponents. Also, the garage menu is very limiting. It only allows you to change 3 things on the truck. They are: tires (shallow, medium, deep), suspension (soft, medium, hard) and gearing (top speed or fast acceleration).

Also on the note of only 7 opponents I need to mention the trucks that come with the game. They cannot be changed. There are 12 different trucks that Microsoft has supplied us with and we are unable to paint our own or customize the truck sets to our own liking. But I must also add that they did a very nice job in creating the trucks and I personally like them just the way they are. My personal favorite is The Grave digger.

Also on the topic of the trucks they are completely indestructable which is something I do not like. Yes, they will roll over, but they will get back on all 4 wheels and you can drive on. You can bang other trucks, run into things and never damage anything. I've seen other trucks rolled by the side of the road only to be passed by them a short time later. Not very realistic at all.

Monster Truck Madness has some other good features as well. First you can race as a rookie if you are a beginner or if you are better race on higher levels such as Intermediate or Professional. Also there are driving help options available such as Autobrake, Autobrake and Throttle, or Autoshift. With all the driving help options turned on all you would have to do starting out is steer the truck.

Graphically, MTM isn't bad. The game supports Hardware acceleration (which my computer doesn't), but I did test the graphics with full details on and set to the highest detail options available. Of course we might be somewhat spoiled by the Papy sims, I will say that I have always liked the graphics details of MTM. MTM, also allows you to tailor the graphics details to meet the needs of your machine which is very nice if your machine is unable to handle faster frame rates. The sound options of MTM are also decent.

Monster Truck Madness also has a full replay system which is nice and easy to use. Some other notes about MTM are that while racing you can hit the (F4) key to bring up the menu bar. Also while racing hitting the (-) key or (+) will switch you between panoramic and in truck views.

All in all MTM, is a nice game to play. Windows 95 is required to run it so this is always something to keep in mind.