Let’s NOT Talk About Micro Machines Military

micro mil front

*SIGH*

Look. Let’s be real here. I am all for innovation. I am all for gaming companies to develop their games to go off in new directions. I don’t mind the odd spin-off game here and there. There are some absolutely cracking little side games based on original franchises and whatnot. Sometimes things you never thought would work do. At one point along the development schedule, something just clicks and everything falls into place. However, on the other end of a very big spectrum of gaming, you have the games that sound like they ought to work and just somehow do not for whatever reason. Maybe it’s the fact that they tried too hard to be different. Maybe it’s the fact that they had to cut corners to fit the coding in. Maybe it’s Maybelline. Old joke is old.

In the case of Micro Machines Military, what they did wrong was everything aside from the premise.

I mean… think about it. Micro Machines. Given a military coat of paint. Think how good that could have been. It genuinely could have been a side-series of games where each time they had a theme or something! The thought of having a cracking set of Micro Machines games, particularly after the majesty of Micro Machines 2, just fills me with glee! I mean… MICRO MACHINES. AGAIN!

So how the everloving fuck did they manage to mess it up SO badly? Oh my freakin’ word, this game is a pale imitation of what the series used to be and the only game in the franchise worse than this is that GODAWFUL Micro Maniacs THING that they thought was a good idea. The rebooted Micro Machines isn’t much better. You know, that PS2 version without any presence, charm of feel? You don’t remember? GOOD. Keep it that way.

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I have issues with what they did to this franchise. The last decent version of this game was Micro Machines V3 on the PS1. V4 On the DS wasn’t an awful game but it lacked a bit of atmosphere and spark. In much the same way, I adore Toybox Turbos but again there’s just something missing that made me adore the original games: characters. I know it’s minor, guys, but I loved the chance to pick a character and lead them to victory. It was fun. It was cool to have the likes of Spider, Cherry, Dwayne and Walter racing around in tiny motors.

But anyway, we’re here to talk about the MAGGOTS who thought this game would be acceptable. TOADIES. ATTENTION. Etc. Military jokes are not my speciality. Don’t expect any decent ones.

So what makes Military a dreadful game? How did they manage to fuck up the experience so much?

micro mil 7

Take a look. TAKE A FRICKING LOOK AT THESE GRAPHICS. Now, the first Micro Machines game was a simple looking affair. The graphics did the job and you could always tell what they were trying to do. They looked clean and crisp. There was definitely a lot of spark and charm to them. In Micro Machines 2, they upped the ante with a bigger range of areas and it worked. The graphics were still crisp, but they also had a bit of detail and were made to look more inviting. You could see everything clearly and often, around the track, you could see something that give you a clue that something was coming up. A bottle cap, a sea shell or a loose nail might tell you that a corner was coming up. It was little things like things that helped.

micro mil 3

This game? Fuck that. You’re on your own. Look guys, I know this is meant to be the military and life in the armed forces is hard and disciplined and all that but let’s be real here: it doesn’t make your game fun. I drifted off the track once or twice, tried to get back and my car exploded, throwing me back onto the track a long way back. There’s difficult and there’s just plain unfair, guys.

And the game’s graphics do not help matters at all. It is actually incredibly difficult to keep track of where you’re going because the colours are either so murky and washed out or just simple washed out all over that the sides of the track just disappear. Obstacles that WOULDN’T BE and WEREN’T obstacles in earlier games are now unfairly disguised. A lighter on the picnic table fades out of view because the flame is a poorly animated flicker of yellow on a background of washed-out green – you can BARELY tell it’s there.

It’s too hard to see things when they’re so poorly coloured. And if they’re not poorly coloured, they’re given a textured look like makes everything looks really murky and bland. I can see what they were trying to do but bloody hell guys. What are you doing? I mean, look at the water colour in the screenshot above. It’s barely even blue. And then you have the grass looking like some kind of weird alien planet texture. It’s ENRAGINGLY bad design. You made Micro Machines 2! HOW DID YOU MAKE THIS GAME?

ALSO:

micro mil 1

DO YOU NOT KNOW ARMS AND HANDS? YOU BLOODY DO. YOU’VE BEEN ANIMATING THESE ARMS AND HANDS FOR YEARS. HOW DID YOU MESS THIS UP?

Although I admit the cutesy salute from each character is a nice touch. It’s very welcome. But poor Violet. She never looked that old. She used to look amazing in these games. And here’s where little things start to pile up and annoy me. I admit I compare this to Micro Machines 2 a lot but with good reason. Look at how crummy these graphics look in comparison to the character select screen on that game:

micro machines 2 characters

These look amazing. The characters are well animated. They flow. They don’t look like someone attacked them with sandpaper and rubbed out all of their features. It just detracts from the experience that they chose to downgrade to the character graphics from the SNES version – which Mega Drive owners also got for Micro Machines 96, but at least that was still a good fucking game.

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So what else is wrong? The actual racing itself is a good starting point. Too many problems start with the fact that the core gameplay has changed purely because of the military theme. The beginning of every race turns into a clusterfuck of bullets. The racers in the back row shoot the ones in front, sending them spinning into a frenzy, bumped around like a pinball, pushed off the edge of the track and then miles behind the other racers. In early racers, it’s actually MUCH harder to win because the tracks are so short. The tracks themselves are generally pretty bad anyway because of the poor design and colour schemes. The dull, dark textures and lighting make it really difficult to see where you’re going. By the time you’ve reacted to a corner, you’re either way off the edge, shot in the back by FAR TOO GOOD/LUCKY opponents, or too far back to make a difference. See, all of the racers are generally of the same level and speed. There doesn’t seem to be one good racer that you MIGHT beat with good skill, one racer that you COULD beat if you keep concentrating, and one racer that you SHOULD beat because they’re usually shit.

Nope.

They’re all pretty much of a muchness. One is usually WAY too good and always miles ahead before you even get a chance. The other two race it out for 2nd and 3rd because you’re so far behind, it doesn’t even matter.

micro mil 2

Fuck you, Cherry. Just fuck you.

Challenge mode, the regular game of old as it were, is a massive mindfuck now because it’s less about skill than it used to be. It’s not about how well you can drive. It’s about how well you can avoid your opponents and not get shot. It makes it very disconcerting as a fan of the series. I mean, yes, the first game had the tanks that blew you up completely but that was one set of levels and it was so slow that you could easily avoid the bullets. Except on that level where you all got stuck on a Lego slalom. WHOEVER DESIGNED THAT SHOULD BE FUCKING SHOT. WITH A TANK. ON LEGO. YEAH. IRONIC PUNISHMENT. SORT OF. I DON’T KNOW. FUCK IT. LEGO.

The classic head to head is gone now. No longer can you jump about after winning a point, at least not in the one player game. Why was THAT considered a good idea? To get rid of a game mode that worked? That people enjoyed? That you had had in the game for YEARS? THAT YOU PUT BACK INTO V3? Jeez. At least you learned.

There’s also no league. That was one of my favourite modes in the 2nd and 3rd games. BOO, DEVELOPERS. BOO.

Instead… you gave us Battle Arena.

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Yep. Push off other vehicles by shooting them repeatedly on way too small arenas. That sounds TOTALLY like a good idea.

And weirdly enough it IS a good idea in principle but it’s executed so poorly because the arenas themselves are claustrophobically tiny and unwieldy. This one is only the second arena and yet the chunks bitten out of the bottom and top make it incredibly difficult because there’s no safety zone. And when you have two vehicles attempting to bump you off, in both senses of the phrase, it gets very unfair and difficult. You’ll find that as you shoot them off, you get hit by a bullet that will send you flying too. See, if could have been a really good mode but the thirty second time limit could be seen as pitiful. It’s much more merciful that you don’t have to deal with it for any longer, realistically. Any longer and you’d be reaching for the wine. That might make things better.

It won’t. Probably. Not much could.

micro mil 6

Yup. Bad luck. You bought this game.

FUCK.

Essentially, Micro Machines Military is a badly designed mess and what makes it worse is that there is no real reason for it to be bad. The developers were great at this type of game. They’d made three previous ones that were great games. They took a formula that worked. The first one laid the groundwork. The second one upped the ante, the third one gave you the power to create your own tracks but retained the same core gameplay that made the game great.

This one got mud in its eyes, smeared the mud even more, decided that guns are good and then shot itself in the face. A sadder fate could not have befallen this game. Yes, it was the last one in the 2D era, which leaves the series with a proper sour taste unfortunately, and very few people knew of its existence given it was released in 1996, a year after the Playstation was out over here in the UK.

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(HA! Well done, it says… ALL THE LOLS!)

But what could have been. Even if it had just been a repainted version of the 2nd game with military colours… even that would have been better than this. Instead, we got a lazy cut and shut job. There was irreparable damage from the moment they decided to introduce guns into the game.

And that is why this game is basically criminal.

Because guns are illegal.

It’s a joke.

Ha ha ha?

Fuck it, you’re all off to military school!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Karl Weller says:

    Loved playing micro machines on the NES. The pool table was always my favourite track, even though I was rubbish!

    Like

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