Micro Machines logo

It's been a storming success on just about every console format and now it's making its racing debut on an Amiga near you.

Anyone who watches their box to any great extent can't possibly help watching the adverts that accompany your dose of soaps. Last Christmas one of the many toys to take the British public by storm were the Micro Machines. This range of miniature vehicles were billed as detailed models of the genuine article yet small enough to fit on your little finger.

These days where there's any scope to market a product further, you can bet your bottom dollar that the companies responsible will. Guess what, this is precisely what happened with the Micro range. They first appeared with jubilant applause on formats like the Sega Mega Drive. Now after a long wait MM has decided to materialise on the Amiga.

Being a product originally designed for formats like the Mega Drive, Micro has a very console style to it. When you first glance at it, Micro Machines looks fairly poor in relation to what the Amiga is capable of.

However, just because the graphics are of a fairly simple nature it doesn't mean to say that the game isn't highly playable. This is definitely the case with this title. The sprites are small and the sound doesn't stretch the Amiga at all, but it is damn playable.

Micro Machines is one of those games that really doesn't have much of a plot or much background, its theme is very simple. So having to write about it is quite tough. I mean I could sum up the entire scenario in about five words. It's a racing game featuring the Micro Machines (well OK, so it was eight words). But I can't do this because it would be a very blank page and yours truly would be back in the queue with the other millions!

All right, there is slightly more to it than has been mentioned thus far, so without any further digression let's spit it out. Micro Machines puts you in the tiny driving seat of a wide variety of different miniature vehicles. These vary from power boats through to combat tanks, Formula One Grand Prix cars and helicopters.

Now straight away you're probably jumping to the same conclusion most do, that this is nothing new; a race around the old tarmac in cars and boats viewed from the top.

But this is where you're wrong because the main novelty aspect to Micro Machines are the tracks. Rather than your typical road scenario, the courses are set over such things as breakfast tables, bathtubs, workbenches and porches.

Sounds odd but it works a treat. It's really very entertaining having to guide your dune buggy around a track composed of Rice Krispies, avoiding the beans and trying your hardest not to skid off the table cloth into oblivion. In total there are 27 tracks and they're all made up of as silly things as above.

As far as who you race against on these cereal (surreal - get it folks?) tracks, there's a full complement of cartoony style characters to choose from. There are two types of races you can compete in. The first is a four competitor-first-around-the-track affair and the second is a two player head-to-head.

Obviously in both types of race you race against either computer opponents or a chum of your choice. Really no amount of words will ever be able to justify Micro Machines - the proof is in the playing. It's simple in design, simple in the graphic department, but highly playable and highly addictive.


Gentlemen, choose your weapons...
Micro Machines
Fun and frolics in the tub with Power Boats.
Micro Machines
Turbo Buggies are just the ticket for rough terrains like pencil cases.
Micro Machines
The Ruff Trux will get you through anything.
Micro Machines
Skidd off the track on the school desk in your sports car and its hardlines.
Micro Machines
Helicopters are excellent for trimming your Mum's herbaceous borders.
Micro Machines
The Dune Buggy's are great when life's a beach.

Micro Machines logo Amiga Format Gold

Look, I really don't want to write about this game, I just want to play it. Even as I sit here, somebody has wandered over and started playing it and already I'm jealous. Maybe I could have a quick game? But then there's no such thing as a quick game of Micro Machines.

It's probably a bit complicated to explain, but please bear with me. You race a very small car across a breakfast table, avoiding milk and cereal. It's that simple. (I lied before). All right, you also sail boats in the bath, fly helicopters in the garden, drive tanks across a games table and negotiate racing cars around a pool table. And it's absolutely bloody brilliant.

I don't think you need to know anymore than that really. Stephen Bradley. Amiga Format.

Right, now it's time for a game of Micro Machines. What do you mean you want to know more? Shoo. Go on Outta here.

You can't talk about this game. Not like, say, Soccer Kid, where you can tell your mates about all the clever tricks he can do, and the interesting places he goes. These diddy cars haven't got any special characteristics. They're small and they zip around the house. End of story.

Ok, OK. It's for one or two players. Satisfied? All right, here's more. Five smirk-inducing, but dastardly deeds you can do to your mates in Micro Machines.
1. Force their powerboat down the plughole in the bath. 2. Knock them into an orange. 3. Edge them of the side of a rule. 4. Blow them up with your tank. 5. Nudge them onto a lawn sprinkler. And the thing is, it's all so wonderfully childish. Married men have sat before the screen, giggling after bashing each other's boats into a rubber duck.

This game is not sensible. There are 24 courses, eight types of scenery, 11 different drivers and four ways to race. But it's in two player mode that Micro Machines really comes to life. The game only uses one screen so both players must be on it at the same time. Unlike other racing games, the idea is not to zoom around the track faster than your opponent, rather, to put enough distance between you and him until the scrolling catches up and he disappears off screen. Each time you do this you gain a bonus; once you've amassed eight, you win the race.

Heck, that's enough detail. Micro Machines is a game that makes you giggle in a daft manner and addiction is more a probability than possibility. Gripes? Well there's no parallax scrolling so the edge of the tables can be difficult to spot. And the shadows don't match the shapes of the cars. But we'll let them off just this once, eh? Driving a tank on a draughts board has never been so much fun - everybody should play this at least once in their life.



Micro Machines logo

Bei Codemasters will man weg vom Image des reinen Budgetlabels und produziert nun auch Vollpreissoft - zum Einstand gibt es eine Konvertierung vom Mega Drive, die den vollen Preis tatsächlich voll wert ist!

Mit diesem Game knüpfen die Engländer erfolgreich an jene guten alten Zeiten an, als ihr "BMX Simulator" für Furore sorgte. Zur Erinnerung: Das war nicht nur eines der allerersten Amigaspiele überhaupt, es ist auch eines, das man selbst heute noch immer wieder gerne hervorkramt, um mit Freunden schnell einige Runden zu drehen.

Genau diesen langfristigen Suchteffekt könnten auch die Micro Machines entwickeln, bloß daß sich bei ihnen alles um kleine Modellautos dreht, denen man à la "Super Cars 2" aus der Vogelperspektive beim Rasen zuschaut.

Dabei ist der Ausdruck Modellautos eigentlich zu eng gewählt, denn außer Wagen, Rennboliden und Trucks sind hier auch Panzer, kleine Boote und sogar Helikopter mit entsprechend unterschiedlichen "Fahreigenschaften" im Angebot.

Mindestens genausoviel Abwechslung herrscht bei den 27 ungewöhnlichen Strecken - die Auswahl reicht von Schul- und Werkbänken über Schlafzimmerlandschaften bis zu Frühstücks- und Billardtischen! Last but not least stehen zehn verschiedene Piloten bereit, um sich an einem von drei Spielmodi zu versuchen:

Im Challenge-Game tritt man gegen drei Computerfährer an und bleibt nur im Rennen, wenn man den ersten oder zweiten Platz belegt. Donnert man gar dreimal hintereinander als Erster über die Ziellinie, darf man am Steuer eines Trucks ein Bonusrennen bestreiten.

Im Head to Head-Modus darf Mensch auch gegen Zweitmensch rasen, es geht nicht um den Platz, sondern um Punkte. Ja, und qualifizieren muß man sich zuvor auch noch - in der Badewanne! Ansonsten liegt hier der spielerische Schwerpunkt beim Abdrängen des Konkurrenten von der Fahrbahn, man ist also eindeutig im Vorteil, wenn man die Mad Max-Filme kennt.

Nummer drei ist dann schließlich der normale Zwei-Spieler-Modus, bei dem der schnellere Fahrer und nicht der bessere Schubser gewinnt.

Im Rennen selbst sorgen neben den unterschiedlichen Fahrzeugeigenschaften (der Panzer kann z.B. unbegrenzt ballern!) vor allem die ungeheuer vielfältige Hindernisse dafür, daß keine Langeweile aufkommt.

Die wunderbar ausgetüftelten Kurse warten z.B. mit rutschigen Milchlachen, stark bremsenden Kleberflecken, Nadelöhr-Brücken, Sprungschanzen aus Frühstücksflocken-Packungen und dergleichen Abstrusitäten mehr auf. Dazu sieht die beinahe den ganzen PAL-Screen ausnutzende, tadellos scrollende und nett animierte Grafik trotz der Mini-Sprites noch mal um ein Stück besser aus als in der originalen Konsolenversion.

Musik und Soundeffekte wissen ebenfalls zu gefallen, und die Steuerung hat man im Handumdrehen im Griff.

Vermissen könnte man bei den Micro-Boliden also höchstens einen Vier-Spieler-Modus oder einen Streckeneditor, aber von derartigen Sonderwünschen mal abgesehen sehen die in die Jahre gekommenen Mitbewerber "Nitro" bzw. "Super Cars 1" & "2" nun wirklich alt aus! (mm)



Micro Machines logo

"Small is beautiful," claimed Professor E F Schumacher. But it's even better when combined with rapid scrolling and a nifty two-player mode.

Great Extremely Small Things In History: (1) The microchip. (2) McCain Micro Chips. (3) Keyhole microsurgery. (4) Microgrooves ('the fine groove of long-playing gramophone records', according to our dictionary). (5) Spotted the link yet? Yes, that's right, they're all words I picked randomly from the page of the aforementioned dictionary with 'micro-'printed at the top of it. What do you want, a medal or something?

Er, anyway. Here's Micro Machines. As anyone with any sense was expecting, it's great. Not for any particularly revolutionary or exciting reason, but simply because it's a wonderful game. Or, perhaps, because it's a simply wonderful game. Or even because it's a wonderful game, simply. Yes, I think that's it. I was talking to a few of my glamorous international game-playing chums the other day (well, a couple of part-time freelance writers for console magazines, anyway), and while we argued bitterly about the merits of Kick Off, Asteroids, Epic, Rainbow Islands and International Rugby Challenge, there was one thing we all agreed on, and that was that without exception, the best games in the world are the ones where something's done simply.

Micro Machines is a Super Sprint-type overhead-view circuit racing game, dressed upa bit with some unusual backgrounds but with no shocking gameplay innovations beyond a fairly novel two-player mode.

It's technically nothing clever, either - the game originated on the 8-bit NES, and it's only been updated in the graphics department since then, and even there not as much as you might expect. And annoyingly, the Amiga lags behind the Mega Drive version in a couple of technical aspects, like the lack of parallax-scrolling floor beneath, the table-top levels and some missing graphical details on a couple of stages.

But who cares, eh? On with the old tosh. Micro Machines features 24 across eight different types of scenery (plus a set of bonus levels which you get to play every time you win three races, where you can get some extra lives), through which you race against a variable selection from the game's 11 variably skilled drivers.

You can race in four amusingly different ways - one-player challenge mode (you take on three computer players at a time, gradually eliminating them and choosing new opponents as you go on, until you're the only one left), one-player head-to-head mode (where you race against a single computer opponent in a manner I'll describe slightly later in the review), or two-player head-to-head or tournament modes, which are basically the same except that one takes place on a set sequence of courses and the other lets you do single races on the course of your choice.


It's a simply wonderful game

These last three modes are where most of the appeal of Micro Machines lies - the straight one-player game is alright, but it suffers from an unfortunate difficulty curve (it's pretty damn easy right the way through to the 15th or so course, which is one set on a number of schooldesks joined together by ruler bridges, and is so teeth-grindingly difficult that, having spent the best part of an hour doing the previous 14 courses only to lose all your lives on this one and get sent right back to the start, you'll probably melt down your game disk into an ashtray and never want to play it again.

Not that you'd be able to by then anyway, of course) and without any kind of password or save system there's just no way back in. Head-to-head mode, though, is a laugh riot and no mistake.

In all of Micro Machines' head-to-head games, the basic principle is that you and one other player (computer or human, or even your dog if it's unusually dextrous and well co-ordinated and heavily into racing games, I suppose) race around a track as normal, except that instead or just trying to get round quicker than the other guy (or dog), you're simply trying to put enough space between you over a short distance that the scrolling of the course overtakes your opponent and he (or it) disappears off screen. When this happens, the player in front wins a point and the one who was forced off the screen loses a point (you start with four each) and when the score gets to 8-0 the game's up.

It's a brilliant way of circumventing many of the problems usually found in two-player race games of this ilk (like, say, Supercars 2, where the screen gets split to show both cars, but then inevitably gives each one such a tiny field of vision as to make spotting corners and so on practically impossible), but it's not without mishaps either. In one-player head-to-head, the scrolling actually follows the car behind, so that to win a point you actually have to race off the edge of the screen yourself. What this means, naturally enough, is that as you get ahead of the computer player, you end up with about two pixels' warning of upcoming corners, which kind of knackers all the good of the idea in the first place.

But hey, what kind of a saddo plays head-to-head games against the computer? This was always meant to be a game played by two real people (talented dogs notwithstanding), and as such it works like a dream.

The extra-specially great thing about the two-player game, though, is that there's so much variation in it - you can race the fast and relatively hazard-free sandpit tracks where it's just a simple all-out speed trial, the obstacle-strewn pool tables where negotiating the pool balls, playing-card ramps and secret tunnels concealed in pockets adds an element of maze navigation to the proceedings, the precarious desktop levels where your lightning-quick but near-uncontrollable sports car goes plunging off the table to this doom on ever other corner, or the slow-moving but brilliant toyroom tank levels,where every time your opponent gets in front of you, you can blow him to smithereens with a well-placed shell up the turret.

Not enough for you? Well, you've still got the bathroom stages (watch out for that lethal plughole whirlpool), the breakfast table (sticky baked beans everywhere and more vertigo-inducing edge-of-the-table drops), the helicopter races (out in the greenhouse for some sunshine, but careful of those high-powered fans and sprinklers), or the workbench (littered with sticky glue blobs, carelessly-discarded nails and screwdrivers, and unhelpful CLI prompts), so stop complaining, alright?

And what do you know? I haven't even touched on the super fantasticness of the graphic locations yet, have I? Well, they're just - oh, out of room again. Damn.


Micro Machines Micro Machines
These cheery faces are the characters you can race in the game. There's Dwayne, Walter, Spider, Bonnie, Jethro, Cherry, Emilio, Joel, Anne, Chen, Mike and, er, Dwayne. Hang on a minute...
DWAYNE, DWAYNE, GO AWAY

Micro Machines logo CU Amiga Screen Star

As the Micro Machines toys fade into memory, where is the sense in licensing a game based on their exploits? Mark Patterson jumps behind the wheel to search for the answer.

From the NES through Mega Drive to the Amiga; it has been a long time coming but Micro Machines has finally made it. Despite its looks it has taken the console world by storm, but will it be as successful in the more discerning Amiga market? Read on...

So what is so great about a race game with tiny sprites, especially compared to classic race games such as Microprose's Grand Prix and Gremlins' Lotus. The answer is fun. When it comes to sheer playability, Micro Machines beats the competition into a bloody pulp.

SCALED DOWN
I guess whoever designed the real Micro Machines thought that the kids would race them around a variety of makeshift tracks. That idea has been carried over into this game with the result that you take on other cars in races around the breakfast table, the garage and other mundane locations. There is nothing mundane about this gameplay though - with hazards like spilled milk and beans and the odd pool ball, you will need the reflexes of a cat if you are going to come out triumphant.

You can play the game with a friend or against the computer, with the two-player head-to-head being the most fun. The aim is simple. All you have to do is drive your vehicle around scrolling levels staying ahead of your opponent. Do this for enough laps and you win that round. No gears, no thrills, just action.

The biggest hazard in the game is the inertia, especially on the fast vehicles which is fantastically over the top. But this just adds to the enjoyment as it makes events like the formula one car race on the snooker table on the trickiest in the game as you are required to steer at top speed down narrow tracks and pencil-thin turns. To add to the danger, if you get a full screen ahead of the other car you win a point - do that seven times and you automatically win.

THREE FOR ALL
A one-player game pits you against four computer drivers. These are chosen from a pool of ten, each of who have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some might drive aggressively, others slowly and carefully. The aim is to complete three laps and cross the line in first place, which is no mean feat. While the controls are simple, the tracks are laid out to catch the unwary driver.

Often there will be just enough room to squeeze one vehicle through, while other areas contain lethal hazards and winning short-cuts.

To win a race you need to know the course. There is no room for wimps in this game, as you attempt to barge your opponents into track-side obstacles or off the track altogether. Several of the courses are designed with this in mind. For instance, the school desk which plays host to the sports cars has a bridge with room for one vehicle only. So, if you are not in the lead when you reach the bridge, you are liable to come a cropper.

TECHNO-DUFFER
For technical merit, Micro Machines scores minus figures. The scrolling is smooth and fast, but the graphics are poorly detailed and the sprites tiny. The sound is equally simple with snarling engine noises and precious little else. Somehow, this just adds to the game's style, leaving it uncluttered so you can get on with the real business or trouncing your mates.

I have been addicted to this game in its previous incarnations, and I am no-less hooked now. Nothing has been lost in the translation, and while it is lacking technically, you will be hard-pressed to find a more playable game this side of the new year.


TABLE-TOP MENACE

The levels are pretty varied with each one throwing up new and interesting hazards. The Road Warriors level, for instance, is set in the garage and is dotted with spots of glue which slow the cars down. Either dodge them completely or time it just right to nudge the opposition into one.
Perhaps the most technically difficult level is the Super Cars one. These tiny terrors race around a pool table. Obviously, the table's covered in balls, some of them across your track. If this was not hard enough, half of the track is placed on the edge of the table. This is perfect barfing territory.
Apart from the scenario chancing each level the vehicles do too. Though not wildly different each vehicle has subtly different handling characteristics. The Super Cars are fast but lack grip, the Road Warriors slow but sure and the Helicopters very responsive to the slightest nudge. You will have to master each one as well as the courses if you want to come out winning.
To give you a hand we have put together a quick guide to the biggest level. Some messy pup's been spilt their breakfast everywhere, making driving your sportster across it doubly difficult. Here is a quick Murray Walker-esque tour of the hazards of table-top-driving.

Micro Machines
1. Keep the accelerator button held down long before the race starts. The inside lane is the best to be in, so barge your way onto it if you are on the outside.
Micro Machines
2. If you have made it into the inside lane, this is a perfect place to scupper your mate by ramming him off the track. At worst he will get trapped behind the orange and you will pick up a point.
Micro Machines
3. Slow down well before the first turn. If you go too fast you will end up skidding off the table and handling your enemy to the point. Cutting corners is not wise as the Wheetos which mark the track also slow you down.
Micro Machines
4. Milk makes your car skid, and this particular patch is well placed to send you careering off the track. Either slow down really early and go round the inside or, if you are feeling confident, speed up and drive along the edge of the course.
Micro Machines
5. Try to skid around the beans, they are not dangerous, but they do slow you down. If your opponent gets caught you are almost guaranteed a point.
Micro Machines
6. Here is the best place to get one up on your opponent. Try to stop them getting onto the ramp and you will pick up a point with minimal effort.
Micro Machines
7. You will be going pretty fast by this point, and even if you slow right down you will probably skid off the track, so start turning as soon as your car lands. Alternatively, you can take a short cut around the waffle, but it does take you extremely close to the edge of the table.
Micro Machines
8. This straight looks innocuous enough, but by the time you come to the end you will be going too fast to stop. Hang back and let the other car take the fall for you.
Micro Machines
9. You are almost home, but first there is the worst corner of the lot of handle. If you slow down really early you can steer around it with no hassle, although you run the risk of your opponent getting lucky and burning round it without slipping off the table.
ACTION STATIONS

Micro Machines
Super cars: These formula one demons tear up the pool table track and teleport through the pockets. Racing around the table's rim will really challenge your reflexes.

Micro Machines
Helicopters: It is off to the green house for a flight through the bedding plants in this level. Hazards include bushes and dad's sprinkler system. One quick nudge and you are off the track.

Micro Machines
Tanks: This is not so much a race, more a war. The tanks are slow, but they have got guns, so whoever is quickest with their trigger finger will win. Let your opponent take the lead, then blast him.

Micro Machines
Dune buggies: these 4x4s are fast and very tough to control, making this event one of the most unpredictable in the whole game. There is loads of water traps to fall into on this track.

Micro Machines
Road warriors: Although this is the slowest of the games, Road Warriors is also the most violent, The vehicles come with giant spikes mounted on the wings, giving them a destructive edge.

Micro Machines
Boats: Bath time is hell for the speed boats as they leap over blocks of soap and come a cropper in a puddle of undissolved Radox. Pick the wrong route and you will end up down a plug hole.

Micro Machines
Sports cars: Face the terror of the school desk, with rubbers and pencil sharpeners blocking your path. It is fast, furious and there is always the danger of falling off the desk. Get ready for the biggest jump around.