I have a lot of fond memories from my childhood playing Micro Machines on the Sega Mega Drive. It’s a top-down racer with colourful graphics, unique tracks, and fast action that was an absolute blast to play. It seems the popularity of remasters and reboots has finally caught up with Codemasters as they’ve decided to revive the beloved Micro Machines series for a new generation. The new entry, Micro Machines World Series, looks fantastic, and it retains the idea of household race tracks and toy cars, with heaps of ’90s flare throughout which is a lot of fun to re-live. However, the key word in this statement is “looks” as, sadly, I can’t say this is the successor fans had been hoping for.
The game immediately gets off to a bad start at the main menu of all places. I was shocked to find no single-player component whatsoever. There are no career, tournament or championship options for solo players; instead, the game has been heavily designed around online multiplayer. The main options available are Quick Play, Ranked, and Special Events, with Quick Play being the only way to play offline (via a slightly watered down Skirmish option). Within Quick Play, you’ll have access to three modes: Battle, Race and Elimination. The Race mode is a standard contest of twelve cars going around a circuit five times to decide the winner, whereas Elimination is simply a race where vehicles are eliminated if they go off track or fall behind the edge of the screen. Battle mode, on the other hand, peaked my interest because it’s quite different and involves players being dropped into arenas to blast away other vehicles while completing objectives such capture the flag, king of the hill, or to fight for a bomb and plant it on an opponent’s base.
If you want to take it a step further, you can move up to compete in ranked games, but only once you’ve reached level ten (which I have to say took much longer than I thought reasonable). The ranked mode is otherwise fine, but overall I believe players will find the most fun in the offline local multiplayer mode, Skirmish. The local multiplayer includes all the game types from the online mode and gives you free reign to choose any custom options you wish. However, for some reason, the number of cars, tracks and weapons in this mode are scaled back, which is a little disappointing. It does offer different handling and speeds, though, and there are also customisations made available to you as you level up and earn loot boxes to unlock. As you’d expect, loot boxes are a mixed bag of cosmetic items such as paint jobs, voice lines and weapons for your vehicles. It all works, but I still feel it was a wasted opportunity leaving out a single-player option; it just makes the game feel unfinished and doesn’t cater to those people who wish to play on their own.
In World Series, there are a total of 10 tracks and 15 battle arenas; many of which feature portals and large jumps. While this is a step down from Codemasters’ 2014 Turbo Toys, each track is brilliantly designed, covering classic locations from previous games and plenty of household scenery. Included in the stages are kitchen bench tops, a pool table, an outdoor setting, and workbenches among many other house-themed levels. All of the tracks look fantastic in action and ooze detail at every corner. People who have played the original series might feel right at home with the core mechanics. Although, I do believe a lot of players may find the control system quite sluggish to get the car moving and the handling just a bit too sensitive, with a good chance you’ll fall off the map a few times in the start. It’s frustrating in the beginning, but after some practice and time, you’ll adjust to the unique car mechanics and weight.
As you would imagine, each track is designed with a hefty dose of tight turns and drops that can wipe you out if you try and take things too quickly. There is a mini-map that helps with some orientation as to where you are on track, but it’s best to keep your eyes on the road as corners and obstacles can come up fast. The mini-map is more suited to the Battle arenas; in particular, capture the flag, as there are platforms connected by ramps and portals that you need to keep in mind. Presentation wise, Codemasters have done an incredible job recreating everyday objects and the traditional household settings. The colour scheme and cartoonish cars are spot-on giving the game a nostalgic ’90s appearance. You will notice, though, that Hasbro Toys had a hand or two in the making of this game as there are licensed products such as GI Joe, Hungry Hippos, a Ouija Board, and, most noticeably, NERF guns included in nearly all the levels. The NERF brand placement, in particular, goes a little overboard and can be grossly distracting at times.
Micro Machines World Series is a racing game that I can’t recommend as there simply isn’t enough content to keep players invested long term. The absence of single-player component and other offline options is a massive oversight, and it prevents this instalment from feeling like a complete package. There is also little motivation to level up or play to unlock vehicle customisations. While it’s not a bad game mechanically and could work well for occasional couch multiplayer with friends, I just don’t see anyone playing this game for long. I love the classic ’90s presentation of the vehicles and tracks in all its colourful glory, but a nostalgic trip alone doesn’t make this game an essential purchase.