Other than the sport of Football that's such a misnomer the rest of the world puts the country of origin in the name, there's nothing as quintessentially American as monster trucks. It's loud, supersized and full of competitive spectacle. In 1996, Terminal Reality in partnership with Microsoft developed Monster Truck Madness for Windows '95. If you though world of trucks with really big wheels couldn't get any crazier, you've not seen nothin' yet.
While the real-life counterparts are limited to the confines of muddy arenas, Monster Truck Madness opens up the sport to include massive open tracks, some on surfaces other than dirt. There are three different types of tracks. Drag takes place in a more familiar area and will task you with successfully performing a jump - sometimes over a row of cars - to the roar of a crowd. Circuit asks to race around a circular track for a number of laps and Rally takes you down a long and winding path with checkpoints. With the latter two, you don't have to follow the set path. The tracks are fully explorable and as long as you reach each checkpoint in order your race is valid.
The final racing option is a Tournament. You can go through a pre-set order of tracks (including one round that boasts an exhausting number of laps) or create your own from the selection available. The downside is that the number of tracks are rather limited. There are 5 Drag arenas, 5 Circuit courses and 3 Rally tracks. While the track designs are pretty good (at least when you don't stray from the path) and there's a lot of visual variety, that number is still pretty disappointing. There were a number of additional tracks, both official and unofficial, but the only ones I've found were custom made for the sequel.
By far my biggest gripe is in the graphics department. The textures are pixelated even on the highest graphics setting and the draw distance is a joke. Mountains and scenery will pop into few mere metre ahead of you. It's at its most distracting in tunnels. You can see the sky at the end of it, but a far wall or curve will cut off your view as you get closer. Being in a smaller area, the Drag arenas don't have this issue but instead third-person view is hampered by the cramped space causing visual glitches until it rights itself. These are among the worst events in the game so I didn't suffer them as often as a result, but it does highlight the limitations of the engine - a modified version of the one used in Fury3 and Hellbender. Compare this with the likes of Ridge Racer or SEGA Rally on the consoles and it wasn't exactly the top-of-the-line Windows '95 showcase Microsoft was hoping for.
Outside of these faults, the game itself is insanely fun. The racing is not realistic in the least, but it will have you whooping for joy. Any difficulty is more down to the cars handling different terrain like sand, mud or water as well as carefully considering air time. Your twelve-tonne vehicle will be spending more time airborne than you'd expect. There are 11 apparently famous vehicles to choose from but I found little to distinguish them beyond aesthetics. You can learn a lot about them in the extensive in-game manual that has more in common with an encyclopedia than a game guide. It's even illustrated with pictures and videos.
You'd be hard pushed to find a more entertaining PC racer from the time period. More graphically impressive ones exist, it's true, but Terminal Velocity have rightly paid attention to where it counts: gameplay. Monster Truck Madness is a blast. What more could you ask for?
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 322 Mb. Install Size: 571 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Monster Truck Madness is © Terminal Reality
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me