Micro Machines V4 Review (DS)

The Micro Machines brand has been around since the days of the old faithful NES, and back then it was something of a phenomenon.† In a sense, that hasnít changed because itís still a racing game that focuses purely on tiny cars racing around every day locations such as your back garden, a pool table, the sink or bath Ė even a museum exhibit!

Different cups and challenges release different tracks, courses, cups and cars You have to score eight points before the AI does

Micro Machines V4 has been a decent game so far on other formats itís appeared on; the PC and PS2 versions especially.† Its reception has been mixed, though the game seems to appeal to two groups enough to prevent a slating; the young gamer and the commuting gamer.† Let me explain:

Commuters donít have very long periods of time to a) get bored or b) get stuck into long racing sessions such as those offered by a touring car game.† Complicated controls are also a no-no since you often donít get a lot of space commuting and may be shaken around to boot.† The DS version of this game crept along late December 2006 long after the rest Ė is it too late for this now aged concept to come to another format?† We examined the evidence.

750 different cars sound good to you?† It did to us as well; but before you get too excited, itís worth mentioning that you have to unlock them stage by stage and they tend to look quite bland and similar.† Still, unlocking them after completing a challenge or a race is satisfying and at the end of the day, 750 is a lot of choice.

The learning curve for driving the cars is very simple and intuitive; donít over or under steer, drift around the track in all the right places and beat the other cars out there (which can be anything up to three other cars, who in some races work as a team).† If you drive at the front of the screen all the time, youíll eat wall or go flying off the corner of a desktop all too often.† Whenever a car gets a screen ahead of the back car, the loser either drops off the screen or if itís you, you lose a point.† To win the basic races, youíre fighting to complete your row of points before anyone else.† What makes Micro Machines unique is the system where by the race is divided up into tiny sections with pausing in the action to award points.† If you pull ahead enough, you get a point and the screen will pause the race to show you a scorecard instead.

If this sounds slightly annoying, it actually isnít a real problem to play.† The game is so different to traditional racers that it feels perfectly natural when playing it after the first few races.† There wasnít much use of the stylus, with only tapping the lower screen required of you to move on from an information screen of any form.† Driving using the D pad is simple, easy and feels responsive.

Where the game falls down is its release date which caused it to be so much later on the DS than other formats.† Chances are that any Micro Machines fan boy has already gone out and got their copy on another gaming system, and thatís going to make it harder to sell copies even to die-hards who loved all the other Micro Machine games, which is a shame.

The cars may be basic to look at, but driving them is wicked fun!

Despite the opinions of some other reviews, we really loved this little game.† For the commuter or casual, dip-in-dip-out gamer, it doesnít present too many issues that complicate the racing, leaving you to simply learn the tracks and then try to win them.† If youíre good enough on the track, you are able to beat even tough AI and the learning curve to being able to do so is firm but fair, challenging but not impossible.† Itís a simple game where without adding anything new, Codemasters have produced something that a newer, younger audience can use to get into the brand, as well as something that a commuter can play on the train to work.† Itís not a new concept anymore and itís not an essential buy Ė but itís simple, fun and an entry level title into a brand which we hope will see some more creative and innovative titles in the future.

Top Game Moment:
Drifting successfully around a hairpin turn to take the lead!