Megastunt Mayhem [$2.99 / Free] is an interesting beast to play. Sure, the game is chock full of monster trucks, school busses waiting to be smashed, and a hard rock soundtrack to groove to. But, beneath its tough clichéd exterior is a deep gameplay system with a fun stunt system reminiscent of the classic Tony Hawk series. Whether you’re looking for a game that requires timing and precision or just looking to smash stuff, Megastunt Mayhem definitely has something for everybody.

If it’s one thing Megastunt Mayhem does well, it’s style. From the moment you launch the game, its Monster Truck motif is in your face. There are big cars, big vrooms and quite a bit of destruction. The entire game is also visually appealing on both the iPhone 4 as well as the iPad 2 (although it has a MUCH smoother framerate on the iPad 2). I also enjoy the fact that the paid version of Megastunt is a universal app (although it’s important to note that the free version is designed only for the iPhone).

Where Megastunt exceeds beyond the cliché is in its actual gameplay system. Megastunt Mayhem is broken up into a series of objective-based missions along several arenas. Each mission can award up to five stars, which must be collected in order to advance to later missions and locales. The first three stars are always earned by hitting a certain score threshold, while the other two stars are rewards for satisfying various objectives (typically performing a combination of tricks). Each mission is also timed, so you have to act fast if you want to get all the stars. It’s a good system that starts out slow as you learn all the ropes, but quickly ramps up. It’s also made for quick bursts of play, meaning that this’ll be a good game to play on the go when you have a few minutes to kill.

The meat of Megastunt Mayhem is in its trick system. In addition to being able to launch off ramps and destroy cars, Megastunt incorporates a touch-based stunt system that allows you to quickly ramp up the points. Perform several tricks in succession and your combo meter goes up, netting you even more points and cash. I particularly enjoyed the fact that some of Megastunt Mayhem’s stunts were actually pretty complicated and required some timing and precision. Stunts range from a simple backflip which has you swiping down on your truck while it’s in the air, to the ‘Nose Bleed,’ a move that requires you to position the nose of your truck towards the ground while swiping left to right creating a horizontal 360 degree shift. Of course, all this is done while being in the air, so it’s important to line up your jumps and get a lot of hang time. There’s a lot of reflexive action, timing, strategy, and fun.

Adding to the depth of Megastunt Mayhem is an upgrade system that succeeds at keeping you coming back for more game time. After each mission, cash is earned based on your score and satisfaction of objectives. You can then use that cash to repair your vehicle and upgrade one of several attributes (such as armor, nitro and handling), each making your car bigger and better. Once you get a car fully upgraded, you can simply keep using it to score more points and cash or move on to the next car and start again. Obviously, this sort of upgrade system isn’t anything new; in fact most racing games worth their salt have a similar system in place. Still, considering that Megastunt Mayhem isn’t a racing game, it’s nice to see it incorporated competently.

Megastunt Mayhem just seems to get everything right and address most of the standard concerns that you may have about these sorts of games.  Accelerometer and touch screen controls are both built-in, with additional options for modifying the sensitivity of the touch controls or mirroring the tilt controls. In addition, both OpenFeint and Game Center are supported for all your social gaming needs. The trick tutorial is accessible in-game and does a great job explaining each move. Megastunt even includes the all-important option of separating sound volume from music volume, assuring that you will continue to hear your monster truck while listening to your favorite music. Sure, Megastunt Mayhem doesn’t particularly innovate in any way, but it does manage to incorporate a variety of attributes from different types of games and tie it all together in a well-done game.

TouchArcade Rating

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MEGASTUNT™ Mayhem Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4