Back in the 1990s, there was a small and simple racing video game that a lot of us remember called Micro Machines on the Genesis/Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. This game was a hard racing game that would crush your soul while exciting you in every other way, especially if you were playing with friends. This was Mario Kart before Mario Kart was a thing and it was amazing. Fast forward to the nostalgia driven market of the 2010s, and we see a revival of the Micro Machines series on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles (as well as phones). Is this revival a pass like Crash Bandicoot, or does it fail like anything Mighty Morphin Power Rangers related?
Title: Micro Machines World Series
Platform: Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Price: USD$29.99 / AUD$49.95
Micro Machines World Series is a game that is primarily based around the racing of cars, though mini ones, around a track while using weapons to hinder other racers from finishing higher than you. That’s the Race Mode that you are presented with when you first boot up Micro Machines World Series. The issue with this is that the previous Micro Machines games relies on very precise and tight controls, something that Micro Machines World Series doesn’t do very well as the controls are way too sensitive in the Race Mode; to the point that you end up over-steering and going off the tables or other boundaries that are in this game. Another issue is that the computer controlled racers are tuned to destroy you at all times, so you will often find that when you get into the higher positions in a race, you will get hammered by some of the most insane bullshit ever seen in video games. I personally got to 2nd in a race, was inches from the finish line when all of a sudden I was hit with Nerf Gun darts, followed by two Nerf Bombs and a Nerf Hammer that when combined dropped my 2nd place finish to a 11th place finish in under 4 seconds.
Where all this comes from is the modes that you are meant to be playing instead, the Elimination and Versus modes. The Versus mode is your usual skirmish, capture the flag and other style modes that all you do is drive around wider open spaces and shoot at each other till one side wins the battle. This mode is precisely why the computer is so aggressive, they are designed only to destroy you over and over again until you magically beat them. Now combine this with the over-steering problem that I mentioned before and you’ll begin to see why I had such a frustrating time with the Race Mode. I didn’t find the Versus mode entertaining at all as that is not what Micro Machines was about, but something that was a side product of the game. Where Micro Machines World Series has taken everything and gone ass backwards with it.
The worst example of this is the third and final mode: Elimination. This combines the racing of the Race Mode with the aggressive nature of the Versus Mode. Elimination mode is a single camera mode where you advance on a meter by taking out your opponents and being the last racer still going in the race, then rinse and repeat till a winner is crowned. The problem I had with Elimination mode is that the camera is working against you the most. Miss a turn by an inch, and you might as well drive yourself off the table. It’s way too easy to be outpaced by other computer controlled cars or players in this mode to the point where I ended up throwing my car into reverse when the race begins just so I’d drop out quickly and the game ends sooner.
Graphically Micro Machines World Series is an amazingly good looking game. Using multi-level tracks with interesting themes such as a Garden with a frozen section, a Pool table with poker chips and other gaming stuff, a mad scientist style track that features lasers and stuff, a worktable area with killer saws and hand-made ramps, and a kitchen level that needs to be seen to be believed. Everything involved in making Micro Machines look large while small at the same time is amazing. Even looking at the screen shots in this article you can see that there is a lot of work and effort into making Micro Machines look as realistic as possible while also keeping the out there toy look of the cars and environment that looks like it was made by kids. Graphically, this game is amazing.
My only issue is that while we do get all the weapons sponsored by Hasbro brand NERF, we don’t get tables that are themed around other Hasbro brands. Could you imagine some tracks based around Lite-Brite, Action Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Sesame Street, Jurassic Park, Furby, My Little Pony or even Magic The Gathering! (Yes, Wizards of the Coast is owned by Hasbro) That would be great! Hell, they licensed out some of these brands to another game a while back (I forget the game), so why not something that you own directly? Maybe it was meant to be DLC content, but given the reaction of the game, I don’t think we’ll ever see it.
Sound is probably the lowest point in Micro Machines World Series. The soundtrack is generic as all heck, the cars don’t sound like anything resembling actual cars or even smaller version of actual cars. Hell, I’ve heard toy cars today that sound more realistic than anything you’ll hear in this game. The weapon sounds here are also not that great, you’ll get a “pink pink pink” from the NERF shotgun and dart launcher, and a low level boom from the NERF Bombs. Even when transferring from one surface to another on the tables doesn’t even change the tone of anything, not even when you slip in honey or milk or anything else on the tables. But when you’re focusing on the racing, you’re not going to notice the sound design at all.
Micro Machines World Series is meant to be played with other people, that’s half the fun of the game. However, while the game does allow 4 player local multiplayer, the real focus is to go online and play against other people. This brings about a big issue with a game that is meant to be fast paced and frenzy as Micro Machines World Series is meant to be: Lag. When you have bad controls that often send people into over-steering and you add in lag, then you end up with a game that was at times unplayable. That also being said, it was hard to get an online game going because there aren’t too many other players available online these days due to reviews and what not.
At the end of the day, Micro Machines World Series is a waste of a nostalgic classic. Codemasters took a concept that was fun and interesting and tried to force it into new game modes that had no place being there in the first place. Though the game does have a great graphical base to work with, the controls flawed the game to the point where it is unplayable outside of Versus mode, the worst mode in the game. If Codemasters wants to revive Micro Machines to its former glory, then drop the online bullshit, focus in the racing, make the controls more responsive so we can finish a race for once, and then we might have something worth investing in. As it plays at the moment, you feel like you’ve paid for something that never left Early Access on Steam.
*This copy of Micro Machines World Series was provided to The Outerhaven by the publisher for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.*
Micro Machines World Series
Micro Machines World Series is a game that could have been great but squanders it all with bad controls and a push towards modes that aren’t as fun as the racing mode should have been. Maybe if there were some gameplay patches and some more Hasbro themed style levels (Where’s my G1 Transformers track guys?) that could make the game somewhat more interesting than the cheap cash in that we’re left with today.