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The World of Micro Machines

Well, when I was a kid many moons ago, Micro Machines were introduced to the world. They were produced by Galoob (now part of Hasbro) and were tiny die cast model cars. I knew people who had them and there were many of them. All great choking hazard sized auto mobiles of varying types and sizes. However, I spent more time with Micro Machines when Codemasters wrote their video game on the NES in 1991. Nintendo would not give them an official license so they released the cartridge through a company called Camerica.

I don’t think I am alone in this, as the games were as successful as the toy range if not further reaching. Micro Machines is a top down racing game where you drive various Micro Machines types from sports cars to helicopters and tanks around various environments. These ranged from Kitchen tops to Pool tables and much more.

The game allows up to two players. In one player option, you have the challenge mode which pits you against three computer AI players of your choice. Every three rounds one player is be eliminated. Finish either first or second to progress to the next race or you lose one of three lives.

Each round you will use a particular vehicle from the collection, shown in a display case. Win three rounds in a row and you got to drive the Ruff Trux monster truck, and if you complete the stage, you gain an extra life. In two player mode you are pitted head to head around tracks; you both start with four points and score a point by getting a full screen scroll ahead of the other player. If you get eight points, you win. You can compete in either a single race or a tournament where the first to win four rounds out of eight wins.

It proved to be a lucrative property and thus it was put on many formats such as the Amiga, right across most consoles including the Phillips CDi.

Micro Machines 2, released in 1994, improves on the formula, allowing four players, more vehicles (such as hover crafts), and courses. The Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) did this using a system called the J-Cart, which had allows two controllers to be plugged into the cartridge. The PC version and the Turbo Tournament ‘96 Edition for Sega Genesis has a track construction kit.

Micro Machines 3 added 3D graphics of characters and vehicles, but it is still viewed from the top down. More vehicles were added, including ice cream vans, and more, which can be unlocked. The game now includes a Time Trial mode which is racing against the clock rather than another player.

The N64 version allows up to eight players using a pad share system where your cars accelerat automatically and you steer them with the d-pad or the c-buttons depending which side of the pad you are on.

Micro Machines 4 in 2006 extended the formula again adding over 25 tracks, 750 vehicles and a track editor. The track editor however is not in the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP versions.

Then for a long while, Micro Machines seemed to fall out of favour. In 2016, a mobile version of Micro Machines was made for iOS and Android devices. It had race modes and a Battle mode (sponsored by Nerf) the game had in-app purchases and its own in-house currency.

However, last month Codemasters announced the return of the Micro Machines franchise in the form of Micro Machine World Series which will be available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It is due out on April 21, 2017. It’s once again in 3D but this time it does not seem as if it will be from a top down perspective.

So it seems the Micro Machines games are on their way back. Will this lead to more in the franchise? We will just have to wait and see.

brianhedley

When not trying to run old machines to their limits, I occasionally write articles. As a man who has spent too long around retro machines, I have managed to play or try virtually every retro machine out there. Also quite a miserable sod who is known for strong opinions.

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