micro machines world tour
Fans will rage against the (micro) machine
If you’re of a certain age (say 35-40) you’ll probably have had a strong emotional response to turning the page and seeing screenshots of little toy cars racing around desk tops. Don’t worry, this means your nostalgia gland is functioning correctly. But sadly it’s nowhere near the triumphant return it should have been.
On paper Micro Machines World Tour seems to do everything right. You race around cereal boxes, gaspowered hobs and ZX Spectrum game cases emblazoned with the ’80s Codemasters logo. You bounce over the Hungry Hungry Hippos box thanks to a licensing deal with Hasbro. The old cast of characters like Dwayne and Spider return with their pixelly mugshots to give AI drones some personality. There are visual gags everywhere, and you get to smash rival racers with hammers attached to the front of your car. This should be the Best Game Ever, but somehow it’s nowhere near it.
Firstly, it doesn’t run very well. At all. Some of the sight gags are lost because the base frame rate, which looks like 30fps, is just too juddery to read text as you go by. That’s rough, especially considering how simple the graphics are. Worse, further slowdown and freezes are evident – whether online or off – to the point where even non-techie friends point out how choppy it is. There are bugs, too. We’ve seen super-charged AI cars, frequent connection dropouts and
right Twelveplayer races online are cool, but we didn’t ever see a grid full of playerco ntrolled racers. AI fills remaining slots.
at one point a player spawned on top of itself. Two identical cars, both accepting the same steering inputs. This doesn’t feel like a finished game.
Car control feels woolly and unresponsive, and while you do get used to it, there’s always that slight barrier between you and the action, which is exacerbated by lag online.
On the wrong track
The track design lacks the imagination of previous games, with shortcuts so obvious they just become the default route, making for little tactical play outside of weapon use. The racing weapons set is comparatively sparse, with only front-facing guns, rearward bombs and that ever-entertaining hammer. At least that makes the rules obvious, and with all the unlockable taunts, colours and death-stamps being cosmetic-only, the playing field is always equal, which is good.
With no single-player campaign whatsoever, you can only race online, or locally with friends and/ or AI in one-off races. Online track selection is random, there are no championships, no way of staying in a good lobby, and no way to map steering to the d-pad. Criminal.
Local, single-screen multiplayer battles are a miserable mess of explosions and tiny cars, but the classic elimination race is still a recipe for local fun, provided everyone has similar knowledge of the track layouts.
There is a decent online battle mode, with well-balanced, carspecific weapon sets and simple game types like Capture The Flag. But while it provides tense moments, battling just isn’t as fun as racing.
It’s wonderful to see Micro Machines back, but sad to see it floundering in maple syrup like this. You’ll be briefly entertained, but it never feels as assured, cocky or enjoyable as its 16-bit predecessors. In fact, Toybox Turbos may not have the branding, but it is by far the better game.
“It should be the Best Game Ever, but somehow it’s nowhere near it”