Like the name indicates this is the officially licensed game for Monster Energy Supercross so if you happen to be a fan of the sport feel free to bump the final score by one whole point since you will probably get more out of this one than the average Switch owner. The game does a good job portraying racers, bikes and indoor tracks which are all up to date as of last year’s season. Built on Unreal Engine and with the required down scaling from the remaining platforms it still looks the part in both docked and portable modes, in particular, the race replays look straight out of a television broadcast, including helmet cams that are so impressive it will look like you’re watching the real thing instead of a video game.
The experience is fully customisable, far beyond the expected rider’s stats, physical look, clothing and dirt bike. You can choose to play the game as an arcade experience with several assistance options on or go for full realism which will enable control modifications like manual gear shift, independent front and rear wheel brake controls and even manual rider weight shifting with the right analog stick. The controls are responsive and do a fine job of delivering the feeling of zipping across dirt hills on a bike, a definitive improvement on the previous MXGP3 offering.
You are also able to pick the length of your season, from a short single track race to a full blow 17 track racing season with realistic lap counts and the sharpest AI opponents. Monetary and experience rewards will vary depending on how much realism you pick in these racing options, with a percentage bonus being displayed for each and every option you decide to use. In short: the less arcade style you play, the more the game will reward your efforts and the easier it will be to pick all your favourite gear and bike customization parts for your virtual avatar.
Yet despite all these fine efforts, the Switch version really falls short when stacked up to the previously mentioned other version features. Present in the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game is the welcome option of a track editor, 22 racers per race instead of the Switch's 12 and certainly the biggest feature cut from the handheld iteration: multiplayer. It is understandable that Milestone might not have the resources to provide the online structure that would allow the Switch version to have online multiplayer, but due to the nature of Nintendo’s console design philosophy it feels almost criminal to have absolutely no local multiplayer component in the version, something that even Excite Bike 64 provided nearly two decades ago.
There are also some issues with the in-game physics engine. In more than one occasion we performed jumps in the same fashion only to end with very distinct results; there's simply too much left to luck when it comes to pulling off a perfect landing or ending up in a complete wreck. Fortunately, this isn’t a true deal breaker if you happen to play with the rewind function turned on. Mimicking the feature we have previously seen in Gear.Club Unlimited should your current run be met with disaster, you can quickly rewind several seconds before your would-be fatal crash happens, giving you God-like powers over space and time while at the same time ensuring frustration doesn't set in.
One last word on the subject of down scaling: we caught a peculiar, reality shattering event during the post race cutscenes when our racer fails to reach the podium; You will not notice while racing that the track crew, audience and camera crews are set to low level of detail. However, this becomes very much an issue when your high detail rider is seen venting frustration for a bad performance with a very low polygon, 10 frames-per-second animated team crew member that looks more like an unfinished humanoid robot than a proper human being.
Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame is a competent dirt bike game that will properly give you all the thrills of the real deal, in a fashion you can customize to your own liking. However, considering this game is priced as a full AAA experience, we can’t but think that all the content from the remaining versions that got cut from the Switch retail release is not enough to justify this version’s portable aspect. So buyers beware: you’re picking up a brand new dirt bike with several key components missing, which is a somewhat troublesome trend on third-party Switch releases.