Micro Machines have been under our feet and around the living room since 1976, but it was 1991 when gamers got their hands on them on home consoles.
It’s fair to say the original Micro Machines was a smash hit, with well proportioned tracks really highlighting the size of the little vehicles and I’d challenge any thirty year old gamer to honestly declare they can’t remember places like the trusty pool table.
26 years later and we’ve had a handful of releases, many not quite reaching the acclaim of the original, but equally providing fans of the series with more of what they loved about the franchise all that time ago,
With the dawn of modern consoles and programming complexity the only recent release was the like-named ‘World Series’ on iOS and Android last year, but now we’ve got the revival on home computers, Xbox One and PS4.
So what’s changed over the original, how does it look and most important of all, does it play like the classic we remember from over two and a half decades ago.
One thing that’s worth pointing out is that this version of ‘World Series’ isn’t the same as the mobile version, but likewise there’s quite a few differences over the Micro Machines you might love and remember.
Firstly, the glaring absence is any form of single player championship, there’s local play against friends or A.I, but there’s no structure to these events, and you’ll be relying on in-house competition to make it feel worth while.
Outside of the half-hearted single player offering, there’s the much more impressive online mode, In structure this is closer to Overwatch than any racing title, with the initial selection of Battle, Elimination or Race taking you to a lobby where maps rotate and you race or battle online opponents, rewarded with XP and unlocking loot boxes as you level up, there’s also special events you can take part in again adding to the online options.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a well worked structure which has worked perfectly well for Overwatch for the last year, but it’s also somewhat limited, there’s not the largest selection of tracks with only 10 in total, but unlocks remain cosmetic meaning the competition is kept with players skill and not the luck of a loot box, however with just 12 vehicles there’s just nowhere near enough quality content to really make you push for every last loot box.
Some might argue that such a multiplayer component doesn’t really fit Micro Machines, but with well populated lobbies, I found online play fun and rewarding and once ranked was unlocked at level 10, there’s then enough of a challenge to keep you playing.
The loot boxes are a nice touch, and nobody will complain at receiving the select few skins and upgrades which are visually appealing enough to feel worthwhile but the primary enjoyment is the fast arcade action which feels as fresh and exhilarating as it did 26 years ago.
Sadly though, some people just won’t get on with the constant online battles, many would prefer to play alone vs the A.I, and unfortunately there’s nothing more than half an evening and bitter disappointment.
A simple career mode, requiring a win to progress, racing each circuit forwards and in reverse wouldn’t have been that difficult to incorporate but instead skirmish leaves you setting up the game and then having to back out to the main menu if you don’t want to replay the exact event, without any fanfare, unlocks or reward.
Thankfully for those who are ignited by the throttle of online play, there’s plenty of positives to consider, the graphical stance is pretty strong with sharp, colourful visuals and well made ‘giant’ surroundings which make your vehicle look adequately minuscule, while keeping action at the forefront without the need to toggle with camera settings.
spilled milk get’s spread around the table, pool balls ricochet off the surroundings and lamps buzz with electricity as you hurtle past. There’s some fantastic attention to detail and it’s all topped up with some great vocal work for announcements and each vehicle giving your selection a little personality.