Your car skids as you take the turn at full speed. Two cars are left behind, but there’s still a third one right beside you. Both of you speed to the narrow passage ahead, but a giant pea makes you lose control of the car, which bumps against your opponent’s and both fall off the table. Shouting, laughing and shoulder-punching, you get back to the keyboard just in time to go on with the race.
Once in a while, there comes a game which raises the bar for a given genre. Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament is such a gem. Top-down racing games have been around since the likes of Indy 500, and the concept of small cars running around the screen is certainly not new. The novelty in the Micro Machines series is the unusual places where you get to race your toy cars: the dinner table, a workbench, or even around the toilet seat (one of the least enjoyable settings, except for watching your opponents’ cars go down the toilet…).
Cartoon-like graphics, enticing rock music. MM2 is like a perfected recipe where there is just enough of each ingredient. There is no music during races so you can hear the cars rev’ up, bump, jump, fall from tables or honk at each other madly.
But what really makes MM2 stand-out are its multi-player modes. We’re not talking about LAN-party style, but single computer, 4-player action using two joysticks and the keyboard. No joysticks? No problem! Up to three players can cram around the keyboard.
Due to keyboard scanning hardware limitations, not enough keys are available to control three cars independently, so the designers opted for making them accelerate automatically. What may at first look like a limitation becomes another fun factor, particularly in situations like getting across the kitchen sink on a sponge, where you need to hold back your car to prevent it from falling off.
I can’t remember having so much fun at a multi-player game since the five-at-once death matches in Dynablaster for the Amiga. Up to 16 players can take part in a Turbo Tournament, paired randomly until the podium is set, so don’t waste any more time. Go grab some beers, call up your friends and enjoy an evening of plain old, silly endless fun.