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Micro Machines World Series is a shot of gaming nostalgia
Tiny cars do tabletop battle in this reboot of a multiplayer classic
Nostalgia is big business. You only have to look at the reanimation of The Crystal Maze, Baywatch and the Alpine A110 to realise that we’re all living in a state of cosy, reassuring arrested development. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Codemasters has seen fit to resurrect the classic Micro Machines series for a new generation of consoles.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the old Micro Machines games were all about miniature cars and trucks participating in knockabout races across pool tables, bedroom floors and breakfast spreads. Never has an awkwardly placed splodge of Marmalade been so pivotal to the result of a motor race.
Titled Micro Machines World Series, which gives it an entirely unrepresentative air of professionalism, this new game captures everything that was brilliant about the original ones. Inventive circuits, slip-slidey handling and the opportunity to screw your mates over by nudging them into the linoleum abyss as you drift past a bowl of Cheerios.
As was always the case, Micro Machines World Series is best played on a sofa with three friends, all of whom are taking it just that bit too seriously. The classic four-player Elimination mode, which removes drivers as they fail to keep up with the pace of the leader, is just as entertaining and instantly vindictive as it always was.
If you don’t have friends immediately available, or at all, it’s less of an inspiring package. There’s the option to race a bunch of strangers in more straightforward 12 player online competition, but without any balancing to how the available weapons are distributed, it doesn’t have that sense of constant dicing for position that Mario Kart does so well. The arena-based Battle Mode, also playable in local multiplayer, is mildly diverting for 20 minutes or so, but is ultimately about as fulfilling as eating a single Pringle.
There isn’t even a single player championship to complete, just the option to play individual ‘skirmish’ events in each of the various event types. We weren’t expecting a narrative experience on a par with a Dostoyevsky novel, but a little bit of structure would have been nice.
All this is mitigated by the fact that Micro Machines World Series is available for the budget price of 20 notes. For that, we can excuse the slim-to-non-existent single-player offering and recognise this is a game designed specifically to be played with friends, preferably in the same room and seated close enough for the odd strategic elbow to the kidneys.
With that in mind, Micro Machines World Series treats both a new generation of gamers and a bunch of nostalgic millennials to what we reckon is the authentic Micro Machines experience. Well, if you don’t count the searing pain when you step on a tiny ‘57 Chevy Bel Air in bare feet…