Developer(s) – Infogrames Sheffield House
Publisher(s) – Atari
Designer – Sean Millard
Producer – Sean Millard
Released in 2002, and heavily based on the same mechanics as the earlier games in the franchise for the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive, Micro Machines went on to receive mostly negative reviews from critics; most notably IGN, who gave it a mere 4.0. That was one of very few reviews I found on this game, since it has gone on to become fairly obscure since it’s release. However, speaking as a fan of the classic fourth generation games based on the license, I didn’t find a great deal wrong with this instalment, and I would recommend it to any fan of the isometric racing genre, as well as the art racing genre for several reasons.
Graphics – 7/10
Firstly, the visuals are pretty impressive for an early PlayStation 2 game. I struggled to find very many glitches, and the conceptual design is fairly diverse, as well as being very reminiscent of the classic games. Taking place across a wide array of different kinds of tracks to fit in with what vehicles the player may be using at that time, be that an off-road truck, a speedboat or a sports car, to me, it doesn’t fail to impress in this respect. The character roster is also as quirky and as interesting in this game as in any other game in the series. While some of the characters may be loosely based on past racers in the game franchise, for the most part, things are kept very fresh.
Gameplay – 6.5/10
Like in previous instalments, the gameplay is also fairly varied, containing multiple different modes, such as championship mode, practice mode, time trial mode and an exhibition mode. There is about as much substance in this title as an early Mario Kart game, but would have inevitably had a hard time competing against competition back in the day, since there were many other kart games around at that time to overshadow it. I think it could have done with a little more substance in order to make it stand out more than what it did, but still there is enough to do in it to keep players entertained for a fair bit of time.
Controls – 9/10
As some who played the classic games, and has grown accustomed to the isometric racing formula, it didn’t personally take me a great deal of time to get into it; however, there will inevitably be a camp of people who may be wanting to try this game out that may not be so patient with it, since there haven’t been a great deal of isometric racing games released since, and there wasn’t even that many released in the interim between this game and the Micro Machines games released before it on the original PlayStation. Another grip I had with the controls was the fact that the camera angle can change from third person to isometric depending on which mode the player is playing through, which perpetuates a level of inconsistency on the developer’s part. Otherwise, however, I found the game’s control scheme to offer more of a legitimate challenge than an unnecessary annoyance.
Originality – 7/10
Although the isometric racing formula was nothing new to the industry at the time of this game’s release, few developers have implemented it in racing games, with the majority of them favouring the more commercially acceptable third person view instead. I think that whilst that is totally understandable, I can’t of a reason why this formula wouldn’t be built upon more than what it has been done, since it still provides a fair level of both challenge and entertainment. As long as players were to have patience enough, I think they would get just as much enjoyment out of a game like this as I did, and perhaps it wouldn’t be so easily overlooked in future.
Overall, Micro Machines is a very well developed game that is most definitely worthy of more attention than what it was given both at that the time, and what it is given today. It plays out just as well as the classic fourth generation games in the series, and the problems that it does have isn’t enough to make this is bad a gaming experience as many other critics have seen fit to label it as in my opinion.