Home > Chronological Challenge, Clearing The Backlog > Chronological Challenge: Micro Machines V3

Chronological Challenge: Micro Machines V3

November 16, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Once again, I’ve decided to change the format of the Chronological Challenge reviews. With 1996, I decided to post a single large post featuring all the games of that year. Problem was, when I did it, it ended up being huge and slightly unwieldy, and on the Internet that’s quite a bad thing.

So instead, I’m just going to post up reviews every time I clear a game from the list. So the posts will be on single games, but they’ll appear more frequently. Not regularly, just…frequently.

And speaking of frequently, I decided to speed up the challenge a little by alternating games between play sessions. This is why today’s game has come up before Final Fantasy VII‘s review, because although it was released afterwards, it’s notably shorter, so I cleared it first while alternating between the two. By doing this, it means that I’ll be able to clear several short games while also battling through much longer games like FF7, rather than stalling the whole challenge every time I hit a JRPG (which has already happened with the Shining games and EarthBound too).

Of course, this means the reviews will be slightly out of chronological order, but it’ll be roughly correct. So now that all that’s out of the way, let’s go, it’s time to race!

Micro Machines V3
Publisher: Codemasters | Developer: Codemasters | Released: March 1997 (UK)
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: Clear the Challenges Mode

Actual Outcome: Gave up on the third challenge cup…thing

As a kid, I loved playing with toy cars. Not sure what it was I loved so much about cars, but I was all about racing cars around my bedroom floor and pretending they were doing silly stunts. Cars were my jam.

Naturally, this meant that one of my childhood toys was Micro Machines, which were the super tiny cars that you could easily lose down the back of the sofa, or use as a trap to tackle burglars when you’re home alone at Christmas.

My love of these things extended into video games, and I got this game because it took the cars off the floor and onto the TV. I was 12, maybe moving into my early teens by this point, so I was getting less interested in playing with toys and more interested in playing video games, but that didn’t stop me from wanting a game about playing with toys.

Because that’s what Micro Machines V3 is. It’s about playing with Micro Machines. It’s about racing around courses set up around places a kid is likely to set up courses, and…that’s about it. The game employs a top-down view to emphasise the smallness of the vehicles, and to make you feel like you’re a giant child playing with the toys (or an adult, I won’t judge).

There’s a lot of cute stuff here. Courses are split into categories, so you could be drifting in milk on the breakfast table or leaping through a Bunsen burner in a school science lab, before driving across baguettes perilously placed between restaurant tables. There’s a lot of imagination in the course design, and lots of neat little touches that bring the world to life, such as the beeping noises that sound when you crash your car into a mobile phone (which, of course, is a Yuppie brick because it was the 90s).

The menu screen is also a nice touch, as it eschews standard menu structure, and instead operates as a series of garages that your car drives into, before hopping over a bridge and zooming off into the distance when you’re ready to start the game.

It’s a shame, then, that Micro Machines V3 is so maddening to actually play. Courses are designed with incredibly narrow tracks, and the vehicles on offer like to swerve out like their wheels are covered in grease, so more often than not you’re struggling to stay on track. The cars also seems to have two settings – a trundling crawl that allows you to turn safely, or so fast you fly off the pool table when trying to slow down – and there’s no in-between.

This is compounded by the fact that the camera is somehow simultaneously too far away and too close to your car for you to make quick decisions. It took numerous attempts on a single stage to simply figure out which direction I had to turn at any given time, and trial-and-error gameplay in a racing game isn’t particularly satisfying.

There’s also a bit of an amateurish feel to the whole experience too. While neat touches litter the stages, it’s hard to get too enthusiastic about the game when it has little in the way of a soundtrack (some droning engine noises and occasional background noise) and the general presentation feels like a student project – has potential, but it’s unpolished.

This shows in the character selection, which is mostly a bunch of stereotypes including an awkward Chinese guy, a stoned surfer dude and a Rastafarian with an evil laugh. Then there’s Cherry, who is not only a character choice, but also pops up in the tutorial to patronisingly tell you that cars can go fast. The best character is Spider, a 50s greaser who won me over simply by never talking.

Micro Machines V3 is a cute game, but handling issues and trial-and-error gameplay make it a chore rather than feeling like I’m playing with my toys on a Saturday morning.

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  1. January 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm

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