Have You Played… Micro Machines

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

Released in 1991, the original Micro Machines was not a great game. It didn’t have the speed and challenge of Overdrive or the satisfying physics of Skidmarks. But what it had instead were tracks lined by cereals and egg yolks that slowed you down and so needed to be avoided. As a kid, I loved it.

It helped probably that I was in the Target Demographic. I was six-years-old in 1991 and I owned the toys – that is, the miniature models shaped to resemble real cars, which were perfect for scooting along flat wooden tabletops, losing underneath living room couches, and leaving in small piles where they could be painfully stood upon by wrathful adults.

I think I liked the game in part because it represented something else I enjoyed, but mostly it was because the tracks were really fun: a pool table in which you could fall into the pockets; desks lined with chalk and sharpeners, where rulers form bridges and create ramps; a hardware worktable dribbled with oil and sticky glue. If I saw a Micro Machines-like game today, I’d roll my eyes at the lack of creativity and assumed nostalgia, but as a kid I simply thought it was cute.

45 Comments

  1. BlazeHedgehog says:

    Honestly, I thought the Pool Table was always one of the worst tracks. Any of the tracks where you could get stuck or fall off and force a reset were always incredibly annoying to me as a kid, because the game always felt kind of slippery and bouncy. It was too easy to slip off an edge.

    Definitely a memorable game, though.

    • klops says:

      Then you mustn’t have liked the track where you drove around a toilet seat with dragsters.

  2. Fenix says:

    Yesss! I loved this game, but wasn’t really good at it. Don’t think I ever beat it. In later stages you would even drive micro-helicopters and micro-boats.

    Does anyone remember the bonus levels? They were timed and you had to drive a monster truck kind of thing in a yard and it was super difficult and never ever managed to get anything out of them.

  3. fuggles says:

    Yes! For hours. Awesome multiplayer and had tanks! Also the sequel had violet Berlin as a character, which I knew from watching bad influence – standby for databurst!

  4. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing on Megadrive was my Micro Machines.

  5. Sardonic says:

    Yes, yes I did. I will never forget how stupid dwyane looked.

  6. RuySan says:

    Played a lot of this on my Amiga. Lots of fun, but definitely not as good as Skidmarks and super cars 2.

    Overdrive was terrible though. It was so fast that you had to anticipate the bends before they reached the screen, which made you look at the map most of the time.

  7. Sakkura says:

    I played it, but I much preferred Super Cars 2 and 3.

  8. frogmanalien says:

    Anybody know of a modern equal- especially with four player (one screen)?

    • melnificent says:

      Toyboy turbos. It’s micro machines in all but name. You can set the camera to be the same as micro machines and it has local multiplayer

      • particlese says:

        Yes! Freudian typo notwithstanding, thanks! I couldn’t remember the name of that game (Toybox Turbos from Codemasters), and I somehow didn’t think to just google “rockpapershotgun.com micro machines”, but that’s the one:
        link to rockpapershotgun.com

      • murphon says:

        Blaze Rush. Several neat modes, powerups, weapons and diferent types of cars. That, and a nice sense of humor when it comes to “medals” including ones for driving of the track, catching your own missile and being overtaken less than two seconds before crossing the finish line.

    • Awesomeclaw says:

      Mashed is also really good, if a little different in style. It got a PC release only recently, IIRC.

    • Jekhar says:

      Not too similar, but definetly try Generally! Nice local multiplayer racing, and it even has an awesomely simple track editor. Some chaps are trying to get a sequel done, but that may take a while, if at all.

      • Jekhar says:

        Oh, and it’s freeware! ;-) (mumble, mumble, something about lacking edit funtion)

  9. TillEulenspiegel says:

    That’s some really ugly upscaling you’ve got in that screenshot (eg, look at how “1st” has been mangled). Those algorithms work with some games, but often it’s better to let the game exist in all its original pixely glory.

    Just double the res and use nearest-neighbor scaling so you’re not looking at a tiny window.

  10. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Dude. Yes. IIRC, that was the one with the kitchen level that had you bouncing over dishes in the sink, right? Good times.

    • Gnoupi says:

      And cross another sink over sponges, which lead to some tight king of the hill moments, when playing in multiplayer

  11. melnificent says:

    I was playing it yesterday on the mega drive with my kids. It’s still great fun after all these years.

  12. richtaur says:

    That was a great game. The biggest problem was that since your car is centered in the middle of the screen, you could never go fast without memorizing the track first, because you could see so little, and would end up flying into hazards. It really needed to control the camera so you could see more of what was coming.

    The 64 version was super fun, too!

  13. DrScuttles says:

    I swear when I used to play this as a kid there was a giant hand with clumsy underdeveloped fingers pushing the cars along, attached to my shoulder. And also the sound effects came from my mouth for some reason. Good game though, even if the paid DLC was hell for my parents.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      They had DLC in 1994?

      • Marclev says:

        Yes, it was a bit cumbersome though. You had to go to a store to buy a box with one or more wobbly rectangle things it (or a new fangled shiny disc thing), you’d then take it home and put said rectangle things into a giant usb like receptacle from where the content would be downloaded into your computer’s memory, or if you were fancy, its hard drive.

  14. Artificial says:

    Great game. Used to love playing this, it was pretty challenging back in the day, and sadly it was one of my more sketchy NES cartridges that took a lot of blowing to get working.

    I enjoyed the N64 version too, especially the ability to win other players cars in local multiplayer.

  15. charlesg says:

    Something about the music in this game screamed “this is a racing game”.

  16. particlese says:

    Nope! I remember seeing it in Nintendo Power or something and really wanting to play the NES version, but the local rental store didn’t have a copy. Wikipedia indicates we didn’t get the DOS version in the US.

    The closest I got to this was playing Super RC Pro-Am on my cousin’s Game Boy, which is not nearly as playful a game environment-wise, but it had missiles and bombs and oil slicks and car upgrades! And Game Genie codes. >_>

  17. Donjo says:

    No way, Micro Machines and especially Micro Machines 2 on the SNES were great games. 4 people could play without the multitap – two people on each controller, one got the d pad and the other got the buttons, cars accelerated automatically. So much fun trying to knock friends off the track!

  18. JFS says:

    I think I played one of the successors. Micro Machines V3? It was great fun. Local multiplayer, the household race tracks and a ton of unlockable vehicles such as tanks and speedboats.

  19. PostieDoc says:

    Super Cars 2 > Micro Machines, on the Amiga of course.
    You were 6 years old in 1991? God, I feel old.

  20. Sin Vega says:

    Many happy hours with this one on the amiga. the versions were identical as far as I can remember. Everyone had their favourite character, even though it made no difference to anything, my friends were always Spider and Jethro and I was always Cherry. Of course, we made excuses and pretended some of them were inherently better than others, because kids.

  21. aircool says:

    Three of us crowded around one PC, so many times it almost ended in physical violence.

  22. ansionnach says:

    Never really got into any of the Micro Machines games but did play a lot of the shareware game Slicks ‘N’ Slide by Timo Kauppinen. Super game, especially playing four players around the same keyboard!

    • frogulox says:

      I was trying to think of something cool to say about MM which i loved dearly and pumped hours into..

      But.

      SLICKS AND SLIDE OH MY LORDY LORD yesyesyes.

  23. Monchberter says:

    I mostly remember the megadrive MM, in that multiplayer races on a single screen were brutally unforgiving in that if someone made a mistake or lagged behind, they’d disappear completely off the screen, giving points to the leader, the game would then reset the cars for more racing.

    Was is MM2 that had 2 extra controller ports on the cartridge itself to allow 4 players, AND you could link 2 Telly’s to allow everyone to have a fair shot. Just me?

  24. mvar says:

    woah talk about blast from the past..i’ve forgotten i used to play this game until i saw this screenshot. Annoying little game, i suppose..thanks?

  25. udat says:

    Micromachines 2 is the ultimate local multiplayer game. I sank countless hours into it at university with my housemates. Three of us clustered around one keyboard.

    I played the Megadrive version today in the retro area at EGX and it was still flat-out amazing fun. People were having a great time knocking each other off that little sponge as it floats across the sink, etc.

    None of the later 3d games had the joyous handling and collision physics of Micromachines 2. It was all a bit floaty and crap.

    I’ve still got my original floppies for MM2 on PC, but I don’t know any way to a) play it or b) get the data off the disks. Last time I tried Dosbox couldn’t handle it.

  26. Heplinger says:

    Micro Machines was always a must-get for us when it was available to rent. I had actually thought recently that a well-done remake might be nice, if only for the aesthetic difference and off-the-wall map interactions it could offer vs other car/racing games today, so I guess we differ there. I think Rocket League is what had brought Micro Machines to mind for me.

    However, the original game was sorely lacking…any remake needs to have that fast-talking guy from the commercials as an announcer!

  27. Kitty says:

    What I really loved was the sequel or remake or whatever that was for, I think, Playstation, which had 3D graphics and all kinds of jazz. It was sick.

  28. aoanla says:

    I think I played all of the first three Micromachines games, either on Amiga or PC. (In fact, Micromachines V3 also ended up being the soundtrack to Halflife for me – we alternated multiplayer Micromachines and singleplayer hotseat Halflife in my first year of university, and the Micromachines CD ended up never leaving the drive. Since Halflife played its soundtrack from the CD as well, we had a rather odd audio experience, especially as the dinner-party track was the same track number as the combat music from HL.)

  29. Kala says:

    I loved Micromachines! …I might’ve played a sequel or later iteration though (I think it was on the mega drive?).

    I especially enjoyed racing against a friend; trying to nudge his little car off a table as I went round a bend >:) It was way more fun for me than most racing games.

    I bought Toybox Turbos on the strength of it trying to recreate Micromachines but it…just kinda didn’t, for me, somehow :(

  30. Oakreef says:

    The Mega Drive version yeah. Great head to head game.

  31. rabbit says:

    Happy 30-at-some-point-this-year Graham! Am still a couple years off myself and so am caught somewhere between ‘ahh I’ve got plenty of time’ mode and ‘oh fuck I’m going to die what have I done with my life’ mode