While Micro Machines may not have been an official Nintendo release back in the day (it was produced as an independent third party cartridge that worked with the NES), it was no doubt one of the more entertaining arcade racers for the system, an anything-goes overhead speedster that had you racing across kitchen countertops, pool tables, and other common surfaces, all in the name of scoring first place.
Since then, Micro has become more of an official franchise for other systems, including the PlayStation 2, but, in this current generation of consoles, we haven't seen much sign of it, probably because the toy line it was based upon has faded into obscurity. Nevertheless, the spirit lives on with Codemasters' Toybox Turbos, a simplistic yet thoroughly invigorating arcade racer that you'll have a good time with, whether you're revving around on your own or bringing some local friends along for the ride.
The Kitchen Is Your Oyster
As the previous Micro Machines did, Toybox Turbos bases its events around locales in the typical home, from kitchens with sinks filled with dishes, to countertops where spilled cereal acts as temporary barriers, to maple syrup that acts as a stopper for your tires, in case you aren't careful. Essentially, each track is filled with household dangers, along with shortcuts and power-ups that you can use to your advantage.
Granted, these can be found in any given racing game, but in Turbos, they really become essentials, as a toy machine gun or a missile launcher can make all the difference when it comes to gaining a first place victory. In addition, the variety of vehicles that are available, while generic at the beginning, can really open up with diversity, ranging from anything to a hovercraft to a school bus, each with their own special handling.
It is an overhead game, similar in nature to Micro Machines, so it isn't rocket science. Stay on track, use weapons and, for crying out loud, don't drive off the edge of the table. That said, it's dialed in just right so that racing advocates, both amateur and veteran alike, will have a ball coming off a homemade ramp and bouncing off a Jello mold across the finish line. There's very little frustration to be found here – and that's just how a Micro-sized racer should be.
Not Much To The Presentation, But There Shouldn't Be
In an attempt to stay true to the Micro roots, Turbos doesn't, ahem, go the extra mile, but it nails down what make that game click to begin with. While the camera can get a little wild at times (particularly with face-offs, when you can't see too far ahead of your vehicle), the track layout is ingenious, with plenty of dangers at every turn. For good measure, the vehicle variety is splendid, and the action is moderately easy to follow, thanks to a smooth frame rate (around 60 FPS) and plenty of smaller details. It won't win awards, but it will win the hearts ofMicro fans.
That said, some mixture in the soundtrack would've been welcome. Most of the tunes tend to repeat themselves, and the boss face-off themes could've also used a bit more diversity. Thankfully, you can blast your own tunes and just race along to your heart's content.
Bring Your Micro-Friends
Along with a single player campaign with a decent amount of events (though very little in variety, aside from boss challenges), the game offers plenty of fun with local multiplayer. Up to four people can join in a race, and it can be quite hilarious (and hardly heart-breaking) to fend off against others in a jaunt for a first place victory. When it comes to local couch sessions, this can't be beat.
More different style of modes would've been appreciated to make this a true party favorite but as it stands, Turbos is a joyous throwback to the arcade racer of old when you've got friends about, especially when you've got someone screeching over an accidental drop-off onto the kitchen floor. We hate when that happens.
There's online racing as well, and it runs with barely any hitches, in case you don't have any friends around. But, really, try to gather a group if you can – it's way more entertaining.
These are the criteria I consider most important for reviewing Toybox Turbos.
It doesn't break the mold for racers, but the clever real-world design and classic Microthrowback look doesn't disappoint.
Music and sound effects could've been better, but there's always the option to play your own.
Vintage Micro Machines through and through, built into a fun arcade racer that all players will come to appreciate.
The best of both worlds, with local races to endure and plenty of online opponents to race against. Single player could've used a little more depth, though.
While the era of the Micro Machine-style racer may be left in the dust for more conventional material like Forza Horizon 2 with some folks, Toybox Turbos is a festive throwback to the arcade games of old that many will come to appreciate. It's cheap, it's packed with multiplayer options, and it's a good time behind the wheel.
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