Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament
Originally released on: Sega Megadrive
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release Date: 1994
It's strange. If you asked me to list genres of game that I particularly enjoy, I would usually list Platformers, Puzzlers, Arcade/Adventure, Point & Click etc... but I'd never mention racing games. However, looking at my giant games list, it turns out I own rather a few of them, and this is the first that I get to re-play.
And what a good game it is.
(I know that sentence kind of removes any suspense in the review, but sometimes that's going to happen. If you want suspense then go rent a season of 24 or something, I never promised dramatic reveals, just slightly sarcastic blogs!)
Micro Machines 2 is the sequel to Micro Machines, (And yes, I am aware that this sentence is completely redundant, but tough), and of course they are based on the tiny toy cars that were popular with kids in the late 80's/early 90's. The game takes full advantage of the "micro" element, with the courses taking place on tabletops, pool tables, treehouse floors, in the bath, around the toilet seat etc, which lends the whole game an air of ridiculousness and entertainment. The 16-bit era graphics are beautiful in their simplicity and the whole game is well made (A fact it proudly displays on the box, as it declares that Official Sega Magazine gave it 96% claiming that "Without a doubt, [it is] the best Megadrive game there is." and that Gamesmaster magazine gave it 97% stating "Probably the most playable game in the whole world!").
In a way, it's a shame I played this when I was alone, because a big part of it is the multiplayer, which I remember as being absolutely wonderful, and indeed, thanks to the magic of the J-Cart (which has two joypad sockets in it) you can play with anything up to 8 players! (8 players is accomplished with 2 players per joypad and 4 joypads. Yes, sounds confusing doesn't it - sadly, I don't own 4 Megadrive pads at the moment, so I can't try it out.) But anyway, the point of this blog is to play games on my own, in single-player, unless it is a game where that is completely impossible. So I dived in.
The first mode I played was the challenge mode. This gives you three lives, and starts you on a selection of races, where you have to come 1st or 2nd (out of 4 racers) to continue, and if you drop below the top two places, you lose a life... once you've lost all 3? Game Over. This mode was a nice warm up, and then I discovered the Super League...
The Super League mode is what it sounds like. You start in the fourth league, and have four races to get as many points as you can. (As is often the way, you are awarded 4 points for 1st, 3 points for 2nd, etc...). After the four races, the top racer in each league is promoted, and the bottom one is demoted. "Well that sounds fun Brawny," I hear you say, and that's what I thought too, so I started it up. And then I lost. Again and again, and again.
"But why Brawny? Surely you are brilliant at all computer games?"
Thank you for that compliment oh mysterious voice in my head, but firstly that's not true, and secondly, once you get to Super League, the computer doesn't give you any help at all. What I mean by that is, if you play a modern non-serious racing game (let's take Mario Kart Wii for example), if you start badly and end up miles behind everyone else, the computer players will make "mistakes" and slow down so that you have a chance of getting back into the race. Not so here. On Super League, it is as if you are racing against a trio of humans, who are all just as competitive as you, but at least two of them have owned the game for a year longer than you and know most of the courses like the back of their hand, so you have to get very good reasonably quickly.
I played through Division 4 about five times, before finally graduating to Division 3. And then in one round of Division 3 I got demoted again... and that's when I stopped playing. I couldn't quite bring myself to play those races again.
Overall though? It's a game I remember fondly, and it seems to still stand up well today. As with a lot of these earlier games, the difficulty is in the harder end of the spectrum, but as a 1 player game I could spend a lot of hours engrossed in it - as the Super League offers the long-term challenge that most racing games lack.
Plus, the multiplayer is (I am sure) still as great as I remember (although I cannot allow that to affect my scores today).
Time played: About 1 hour 10 mins
Would I continue playing?: Absolutely! In fact, next time I have people round for a gaming session, this is going to be top of the pile!
And the next game? Well we'll be sticking with the racing theme, but changing to a handheld - it's Mario Kart: Super Circuit (originally on GBA, played on 3DS).