Newest Review: ... thrilling contests on courses constructed from mundane household objects. Thumbs up to Codemasters for designing tracks that have you s... more
Good things come in small packages
Micro Machines (Classic Game)
Member Name: Dentolux
Micro Machines (Classic Game)
Advantages: Creative track design, numerous vehicles based on the toys available to drive.
Disadvantages: The victory screen for beating the single player mode is a bit of an anti-climax.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL RACER
I must confess that when it comes racing games I am not a huge fan of the genre, specifically the realistic ones. Driving simulators can be a bit tedious as you are forced to adjust your speed when taking corners and you need to follow a strict racing line in order to clock up the fastest lap time possible. When it comes to racers I am in the camp (or should that be garage) of drivers who want something less serious and more arcadey. That is probably why I am such a big fan of the Mario Kart series which offers cartoony graphics, power ups and all manner of wacky courses.
Before I experienced Mario Kart I turned to Micro Machines on the Megadrive for my racing needs. Aside from Sega's sixteen bit machine, the game has appeared on numerous other systems including home computers like the Amiga and consoles such as the NES. What distinguishes it from other racers is that you drive around in tiny toys as opposed to regular cars. This allows the player to experience thrilling contests on courses constructed from mundane household objects. Thumbs up to Codemasters for designing tracks that have you speeding along kitchen tables, in the bath, on school desks and all over the garden.
VEHICLES AND TRACKS
When driving about you don't just have to keep an eye out for your opponents, but also the various obstacles dotted around the track. Drive over a marmalade stain and you will get stuck. Go over a deep puddle and your car will sink down into the depths, forcing you to respawn further down the track which costs you valuable time. Other dangers include fans that can push you off course and oil slicks that make you skid. One thing I really hated were the tracks that had rulers acting as a make shift bridges. You would use these to go over a gaps, but when rushing along at top speed it was easy to miss them and plummet to your doom.
The game features various vehicles which all handle differently. The F1 cars for example are super fast and have excellent grip, but take a while to turn. To succeed with them you'll have to memorise the track in order to swerve early at corners to avoid crashing. Sport cars are fast too, but they lack the traction of their F1 counterparts so they skid all over the place. Aside from the different cars you get to use boats in the bathtub levels, helicopters and even tanks. The tanks are plagued with a horribly slow top speed and poor handling, but they are still fun to drive as they come with a cannon you can use to blast fellow racers.
ONE PLAYER MODE
In terms of gameplay the one player mode has you racing against three A.I controlled characters. The aim of the game is to finish first or second so you can proceed to the next race. If you end up in third or fourth place you lose a life and repeat the track (providing that you have any lives remaining.) After a few races one of your opponents will get knocked out of the competition and replaced with a new character. The game continues until you get down to the last three opponents and win the final race.
My advice to new players would be to challenge the stronger characters as soon as possible so they get eliminated during the early races on the tracks you are more familiar with. That way when you get to the latter stages, which have more complex courses, you at least stand a chance as you will be pitted against the weaker guys. It's also advisable that you master the bonus tracks which have you driving a monster truck. If you can complete these within the strict time limit you'll earn an extra life.
The two player mode is what kept me coming back to Micro Machines, but I must warn you that it is a little hit and miss. If you play against someone who is much worse or much better than you it gets boring. Find an evenly matched competitor however and you will be hooked. I had the good fortune of having a friend who was familiar with the game, as he owned it on the Amiga, and the matches we would end up having were epic.
Unlike other racing games the two player mode isn't a straight forward race to see who can complete the three laps first. The aim is to race ahead of your opponent so you touch the top of the screen. Doing so awards you a point (represented by a row of lights.) If you can change all the lights to your colour you win. Otherwise you race on until the end of the race where the person with the most points is declared the winner. Sounds weird I know, but it works. Once you get the hang of it you will be racing like a mad man, cutting corners and shoving your opponent out of the way with the aims of scoring the most points.
Micro Machines is one of my favourite Megadrive games of all time, so it's something I feel an old school gaming fan should check out. I have played some of the sequels that appeared on other consoles and for some reason I find that they lack the charm of the original. I like how the aerial view of the action gives you a good perspective of the track. It's a refreshing change of pace from most modern day racers which use a third person view or vantage point from behind the wheel. You may be too old to play with the Micro Machine toys, but don't fret. The Micro Machines video game is much more fun to play with and is something that "big kids" of all ages can enjoy.
Summary: Classic driving game based on the popular toys.