Nothing stolen, nothing gained. While the world was anxiously waiting for the next generation of the Micro Machines series, Ignition came out of nowhere and took pretty much exactly the same line. OK, strictly speaking, they're not toy cars, but you do drive unlikely vehicles across unlikely tracks.
So you're in a school bus (obviously, the coolest choice), plowing right through the jungle, the 'road' leads you right across the top of a pyramid and oops… a boulder dropped down from above and flattened you good. Oh well, no worries – you'll be up and running again in a moment, just that you've lost precious seconds against the competition. So, like Micro Machines, Ignition is good, light-hearted fun racing where you can shove, push or crash as many times as you like – if you think it will be to your advantage.
Also, at the time, it looked amazing! Yet the time itself has shown to be less merciful as it went by. The 3D rendered graphics of the first generation have aged rather badly, looking blocky and angular. Where nowadays, one can easily claim and defend the point that Micro Machines has a stilized, toy-ish look, Ignition cannot claim anything along those lines; although it clearly had the lead, way ahead, when it came out, it has ironically been overtaken again.
Thankfully, the three-dimensional graphics were not just intended to show off. Rather, they are an inherent gameplay component in the way that the tracks have serpentine roads and jumps. And apart from the already mentioned obstacles (like the falling boulders), there are also crossings with sideways traffic and forks in the road (where one way is usually shorter, but more dangerous). So the three dimensions are really used.
Apart from the obvious competition mode where you have to place at least third in each race to proceed, the game offers an interesting variant where one racer is eliminated each lap. So as long as you're not trailing behind in the last spot, you still maintain a chance to win at the end. Simultanous multiplayer races can be performed split-screen or via network, though lacking the head-to-head mode of MM, it suffers from the usual racing game issue of the vehicles usually not being too close to each other, i.e. the competition not being all that direct.
However, this is really only a limitation compared to that one specific game series, and not compared to the rest of the genre. There is another revelation which slowly dawns on you after playing a little which really almost turns this accessible, dynamic fun racer into a disappointment. Initially, you only have access to five tracks. Two more can be unlocked through the competition mode, but that's it! One race taking only a couple of minutes at most, this – combined with the rather low initial difficulty level despite the fairly competent AI – implies that you'll have seen everything after an hour or so. This smeels like the producers were fishing to sell expansion packs.
To put this into perspective again, the Micro Machines 2 Special Edition was already available in the bargin bins at the time and it contained about 100 tracks and included a comfortable editor! Ignition, as nicely made as it is in many respects as it may be, offers very little value for its money in comparison. Which probably doesn't matter much to you nowadays, but even if you get it for very little money (or for free) remember that this one's tank will run dry fast.