Micro Machines – A trendy title or a gaming genius
Car racing arcade games have been the staple of most hardcore gamers diets going all the way back to Atari’s Hard Drivin or Sega’s popular Out Run titles, both games that helped set the standard for this particular genre. These days the store shelves are lined with an endless selection of car racing titles all offering high quality 3-D graphics, realistic car controls, professional courses and perfect sound effects; all combining to make the player feel as if he is really in the seat of a race car. Although the hay days of 2-D racers are long gone there is one particular game that bucked the trends of its time and stayed true to it roots allowing it to survive the ever changing world of the gaming industry and become a classic which is still played to this day.
Micro Machines – The story behind the genius
The Micro Machines game was first released by the Codemasters Group in 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and then was subsequently ported onto a long list of other games consoles before spawning a long line of follow on titles, each equally as popular as the last. The whole idea for the game was modeled after an already successful line of miniature toy vehicles (micro Machines) which had already been around for years as cool toys for boys. These trendy little items came as cars, buses, boats, helicopters and fire engines and provided the starting point for a great car racing game that allowed kids who already enjoyed collecting the models, to actually race them around a track in real life.
While most racing game developers were trying to adapt their games into a more realistic 3-D style that gave the player a first person front seat in a car, Micro Machines went for a completely 2-D birds eye view of the cars and the track. To add an even more unique and fun aspect to the game-play the racing tracks were made up of messy dining room tables, snooker tables, messy kids rooms and other creative backdrops. The courses became more like obstacle courses rather than a standard circuit, meaning players had to dodge falling bookshelves, leap over playing cards, avoid snooker pockets and watch out for spilt milk puddles. To top it off you could go from driving classic race cars, to speeding around swimming pools in speed boats to flying in helicopters over back gardens. Gamers had never seen anything like it at the time and it gave them a break from other company’s game releases which were nothing short of terrible attempts at creating 3-D racers before their time.
Due to its initial success the Codemaster Group continued to develop follow up games with each successor offering add-on options including a share control feature that allowed up to 8 players in one tournament, track construction kits, a military vehicle version and the addition of other non-formal vehicles such as skateboards and jet-skis. After 1997 the Micro Machines game finally shed its 2-D skin and went 3-D with the V3 title released on the popular Playstation console and continued in this direction until its most recent title V4 in 2006.
Leave a Comment