A Look Back: Micro Machines 64 TURBO
I could write a whole post simply about my love for Micro Machines (the toys) when I was a kid. Which I must admit, the inclusion of a real deal Micro Machines car in the box did help encourage the purchase. But I’d better stick to the subject here of Micro Machines 64. Of course given coming months of absolutely nothing coming out on the N64, I would have bought this game anyway simply because I had so much fun with the NES version when I was younger.
The presentation of this game on the Nintendo 64 is practically unchanged from the game that came out almost 10 years earlier on the “regular” Nintendo. Infact if you’ve played both games, 64 Turbo almost feels more like a port of the original into the 3-D realm. I’d almost swear some of the courses are identical.
The concept couldn’t be simpler. Imagine you’re a kid with a whole lunchbox full of Micro Machines. Naturally you’d take whatever you found laying around the house or the yard and set up little courses for them to drive. Whatever was in your immediate surroundings was fair game. Back yard? Sand shovels, lawn sprinklers, dog toys. On Dad’s pool table? Pool cues, balls, and of course drawing out the course with chalk! Dad would be pleased! Good thing this is just digital. So as so many games can do, Micro Machines is able to take a very relate-able concept and stretch it just a bit into fantasy and have some fun!
This wasn’t a milestone game for me, but I did have fond memories of the original, and it came out at a time where there was simply nothing else worth buying on the N64 that I didn’t already have. Even still, the fact that there was really nothing new in this redux became a disappointment. The courses were nearly identical. Even the characters were exactly the same. All of them, down to the “black leather jacket, too cool for words” Spider. If you could be a bad ass with Micro Machines… Spider was that guy.
Another issue that really held this game back for me was the steep skill curve. The first couple levels start off easy enough, but by the third or fourth level, course memorization is practically required because you’re just going too damn fast and with the camera angle, you can’t see what’s coming up. You end up having to slow down to avoid flying off tables, unfortunately doing so means all the CPU players are long gone in front of you. Once you have the course committed to memory, you can use landmarks like a salt shaker or a flask to cue when you begin the next turn before it’s even on the screen. Then you can really lay down some wooping. Of course then when you FINALLY DO win, it’s onto the next unfamiliar course, and with only 3 lives, you’re likely to be eliminated before you can get a handle on the course. Which means you have to race your way back to where you were in the game. So the farther you make it, the less excited you are about having to rewin all your previous races just because you aren’t a Jedi Master.
So as I popped this game back in the other day, I experienced exactly what I remember from my younger days. 10 minutes of fun, thinking about all the fun I had with the NES version, followed by 5 minutes of frustration and ultimately deciding there’s something else that’s more fun than this to play. Though this game always makes me wonder what happened to all my Micro Machines…. I had cars, and planes, and trains….