Collidalot is one of those games that screenshots rarely do justice. Not because it’s particularly striking to look at, but because still images simply fail to capture the sheer chaos and intensity of its vehicular showdowns. Even a trailer fails to do the job. This is a game you really need to play with friends, bunched up in front of the TV, with a Joy-Con in hand and plenty of sweat running down your brow.

In its purest form, Collidalot is local multiplayer battle arena game that’s just downed a crate of Red Bull. Think of it as a cross between Destruction Derby, Micro Machines and the Tony Hawk Pro-Skater series. Sounds like a ridiculous combination of reference points, right? And you’d be correct in that conclusion, but somehow indie studio Grunka Munka Games has taken these inspirations, thrown them into the melting pot and produced something quite unique.

Matches are top-down, with each player controlling one of three types of vehicle - the extra fast Lance, the all-round Bulldozer and the beefiness of Wormhole. Each map has its own set of rails in increasingly complicated designs, and you’ll need to hold ‘R’ in order to keep grinding along each one. You can hop between rails by jumping via ‘Y’ and boost with ‘B’. Boosting into another player will increase your build-up of Glory, which can then be used to perform an extra fast boost (Glory Charge) and a powerful knock-back effect (Glory Special).

Depending on the game type, the aim of the game is to either cover the rails in a paint colour that corresponds to your team, as well as scoring points for knocking players off the rails to their doom or hitting them enough to make them explode. With support for up to four players locally, things can get very hectic, very quickly. It’s a single-screen affair, but it’s still incredibly easy to lose track of where you are due how small each vehicle is on-screen. As such, we found playing in handheld and tabletop mode significantly less enjoyable than on a TV as a result.

There’s also a lot of ideas to keep track of, so this isn’t the kind of game you can’t really pick up and enjoy instantly. That’s no knock on its design, though. It might look simple enough in a screenshot, but in application, it takes a little while to master the delicate movement between rails, how to use momentum to your advantage and which areas of each map are ideal for taking your opponent down quickly and efficiently. But once you nail it, Collidalot’s unique premise holds bags of potential.

There 18 maps to play right out of the box, ranging from simple shapes to outrageously complicated swirling grids. There are three game modes to choose from - Survival, Tournament and Paint - although the latter is easily the most enjoyable thanks to its Splatoon-style use of acrylic that urges you to consider how much territory you’ve recoloured as well as how much you’re damaging the other three players. Gunka Munka Games has confirmed there are more modes incoming, although we don’t what these are or when they will drop.

You can play solo thanks to the use of AI, but this really is a local couch-play affair through and through. Being able to add modifiers to matches (such as adjusting the length of time you can be stunned right down to whether you’ll allow any form of auto ship repair) adds a nice touch and you can play in free-for-all or in teams should you want to team up against your fellow on-rail opponents.

While there’s plenty of maps to choose from, the selection of ships does leave a lot to be desired. Each ship controls very differently and behaves wildly different when colliding with other players or boosting around rails, but the fact you only have three to choose from in a game aimed at four players does seem a little on the low side. There’s certainly the opportunity for the developer to add more, but at launch having a few more ships to choose from would help make this Mad Max-like battler more diverse overall.

Conclusion

While Nintendo Switch has a fair few battle arena style games to its name, Collidalot brings something refreshingly new to the mix with its top-down mixture of melee vehicle combat, rail-grinding and Splatoon-aping painting. The size of each vehicle on-screen and the sheer mayhem of its jet-powered matches does make it a difficult sell in handheld/tabletop mode, but on a TV, this four-player experience really comes into its own. It’s a little lacking in modes at launch, and its choice of three vehicles is a little meagre at best (especially for a game aimed at four players), but look past these limitations and you may find your next couch-play obsession.