In 2016, a Hollywood movie studio thought it was a good idea to release a literal interpretation of "monster" trucks in a movie that supposedly cost more than $100 million. They called it… Monster Trucks. A squishy alien creature meets a couple of kids, the kids shove the critter into a monster truck, and they battle against the type of corporate goons that exist only in movies.
The recent history of monster truck games isn’t quite so adventurous. Steam hasn’t seen a licensed monster truck game since 2015, and none of those feature Godzilla behind the wheel (radioactive breath exhaust? Yes please). Instead, Steam’s roster focuses on the EPA-infuriating, super polluting, car crushing machine acrobatics in their truest real world form. How dull—in comparison to Godzilla trucks anyway. Delving deep into this forgotten sub-genre shows… not much, actually. Games about monster trucks crushing cars and doing sick jumps are rare and mostly terrible. Steam added 7,000 games in 2017, and not one of them was about monster trucks.
But if you need your fix anyway, here are the the monster truck games worth your time.
Battlegrounds starts in a forest. Screw nature. Run it over. Or, let exhaust poison the air. Before everything dies, take on a bunch of tracks in the rollercoaster-like style of Trials HD, a 2.5D motorbike game about balance, speed management, and shaving seconds off your best time. Take to the air, stay level, and hope you land properly.
If that’s somehow boring, take one of Battleground’s 23 trucks into 3rd person stadium racing, filled with dirt and jumps to make the ticket price worth it. Assume the dirt is made up of the ashes of the forest and it seems crueler still.
Smashing through a trailer that shatters like cardboard, leaping into the air and landing on the roof of a school bus, and running over piles of junk cars: Monster Truck Destruction isn’t subtle. It really likes breaking things. Never mind the school systems that probably need those buses—watching them collapse under giant tires is way more satisfying than getting kids educated. Multiplayer matchmaking remains in beta (since 2015, so it’s not happening).
Slamming into AI trucks is probably it, and since they lack the "I" in "AI," busting them up is as frequent as it is easy. Destruction knows what people want. The opening screens ask players if they "Want to buy this awesome monster truck?" None of them are considered anything less than awesome. Just look at those things. Every one of them is awesome because they break stuff.
The record top speed of a monster truck—in reality—is just shy of 100mph. It’s called "The Raminator," because of course it is. According to the speedometer in the free Off-Road Super Racing, Raminator’s puny speed is nothing. Trucks here reach 240mph. Combine that top speed with physics from another reality and this Steam freebie can send a truck some 100 feet into the air. At one point, I misjudged a turn and sent a truck hurtling vertically upward into the sky. Outdoor environments give plenty of space for screwy mayhem, but since there’s nothing to destroy, there's also not much to chew on. Monster trucks were born to run stuff over. Even flying is no substitute.
Another Trials-like stunt fest. Unlike the officially licensed Battlegrounds, though, Monster Trucks Nitro blows stuff up. There’s an entire race style dedicated to putting propane tanks on the track. Seems like a waste of fuel, until you consider the explosions. Now that's what we're talking about. Explosions are good.
Hit those, go skyward, and smash some stuff. Buses, logs, cars; everything will get in your way. Forget those though. Just roll over it. Get air, gain nitro, and beat your best time in a version of reality not like our own.
Classic arcade game Super Off-Road was awesome. ThunderWheels takes that awesomeness to heart. In early access as of this writing, ThunderWheels miniaturizes the mega tires of the vehicles, using an old school top down perspective. Trucks appropriately bounce, jump skyward, and end up on their roofs more often than not. It’s chaos, which, most likely, it what people attend these events for. There’s not much to this; the arcade roots stick around with simplified game modes and a telltale lack of depth. But, it’s monster trucks. Mistakes get made. Trucks crash into each other. Maybe they land on one another. That’s a win.
That's a wrap on Steam's selection of proper monster truck games, but we doubt your lust for crushing small cars with bigger cars has been sated. The only option now is to head to the web. If you’re not concerned with having your PC hijacked by questionable Flash applications, shoddily named websites, and shakier still plug-ins, you’ll find a bevy of monster truck games here. Most of them follow the same pattern. If Steam holds two Trials-like monster truck games, there are enough of these browser-based ones to rival Netflix’s output. Here are a handful of notable entries, assuming your malware protection is up to date.
"You will be available a new level" states this goofball package delivery sim. It’s doubtful Russian Off-Road Pickup Driver understands the Americana of monster trucks (or English). A bunch of cargo sits in the back of your vehicle (various types of 4x4s at first) and the road ahead doesn’t speak well of Russia. Downed trees, stray logs, random ponds, and other stuff covers the track. Hit one mega pothole and moon-like gravity sends your cargo up and away. You lost, and you won’t be available a new level.
Like Windows 95-era graphics? This Flash-based throwback goes there. Short draw distances. Square wheels. Wonky physics. It’s plausible Monster Race 3D sat boxed in a Software Etc. circa 1995, got lost, then when retail excavators uncovered this lost release, they ported it to the web. It’s a bunch of generic tracks and indifferent racing, but you can send the trucks high into the air, snag some nitro, and take off toward the finish. That’s fun, but it’s no Space Cadet Pinball.
A sequel to the highly acclaimed Offroaders (not really) is another retro styled, top-down racer. Ignore the clickable icon showing a yellow monster truck skimming by a virtual camera: that indicates a bombastic 3D ride. Instead, it’s stubborn and sticky, more in the vein of Rare’s Nintendo classic R.C. Pro-Am. It has the jumps, splashes into water, ramp leaps, and crash-and-bash racing. Snag some stars strewn around the track to gain nitro, ignite it, and hope it’s timed right. If not, oops. At least you crashed, and monster truck crashes can never be wrong.
This one sort of works, which is almost shocking in the world of Flash monster truck games. You can drive. Don’t turn, though, because the impossible courses will eat your truck. It’s a bunch of scattered concrete pillars with black and yellow warning labels, a sign just to close your browser window. Way out in the distance is a rollercoaster-like track that looks like a Hot Wheels monstrosity built by the devious mind of a six year-old, but actually getting there seems impossible. Multiple attempts sent the truck to the ground, and returning to the track? Forget it.
Purveyors of trash cinema, The Asylum (Transmorphers, Sharknado), wish they came up with Truckformers. Another Trials-like, but now your monster truck can transform. Hell yeah. One form (of four) has a giant saw blade sprouting from the hood. Sounds awesome. Then you realize the fourth form is a helicopter and you can just take to the sky, skip the entire level, and land at the finish line. That defeats the point, but you need to feel successful, here’s the easy way to do it. And really: Truckformers. Get this movie made.