Hello please game today yes?
I'd been trying to finish this race so I could move on from stage 1 of the Adventure mode. So, well, yes. Bit disappointing to find that was the Adventure mode. That took an exciting twenty minutes of my life. The obligation to go back and get gold on the few tracks I'd not managed it with wasn't strong enough to overcome the dismal nature of it all. Or I could crank it up to Hard from Medium. Or I could do another Slitherlink. (Additional tracks are to be released, but currently all you can get for your extra 150 points are some crappy pictures or themes.) What an adventure!
The shoddy tone is all-encompassing. Reading the hastily compiled instructions, I was fascinated to learn, "When you start challenges and power ups are locked." I was also reassured to, um, read that, "If you can't read, there is usually a couple of pictures that are often self explanatory."
(By the way readers, if you can't speak Russian, Пожалуйста пойдите к ветрянке).
Your cars, for no discernable reason, are spring-driven. This means if you hold down accelerate for too long, the, um, spring tightens too much and you slow down. So you have to not accelerate for a bit. There's no middle position between on or off, so it's drift, or 'overheat'. That's racing!
The various courses mix it up to the Mad max. (In fact, surely the game should have been called "Mad Tr4xx"? This is a gross oversight.) There's a golf-like game where you must nudge a ball with your car around a single green and into a hole. There's a football game, with two cars on each side, bonneting the ball through the opposing goal. There's even a game that's "just like darts", where you, um, drive your car up a ramp and try to get it to land near the centre of a target on the ground below. Although, come to think of it, if that was just like darts, I'd sure as hell tune in. See, it's not exactly like Micro Machines! Each is as frustratingly sludgy, especially with the potentially fun football game ruined by the pudding-based cars. It makes the mini-games in the Wii's Monkey Ball look positively inspired.
Of course, there's also the requisite power-ups, including rockets, and freezing rays, and so on, each as uninspired and out of Micro Machines as the last. Oh, and there's one that reverses the controls of your opponents' cars - a feature which when included in a game ensures it can never score more than 5/10.
Wheelie bad (NB: there are no wheelies)
The Arcade mode then? It's an awful lot like the Adventure mode, except you can play the fifteen tracks in any order, rather than taking the epic twenty minutes Adventure requires to unlock them. And that's it.
So does multiplayer rescue it? Well, at least the challenge is more even. Everyone is struggling with the controls as much as each other. During one game of the foosball level, I think between the four of us we managed to touch the ball at least twice! And in sweet vindication, I totally thrashed someone on the toy race track, meaning I got to watch my stationary car for a good minute while my hidden opponent trundled his way toward the finish line.
Worse, if you want to play with chums, you're going to have to reselect your gang for every two-minute game, as the interface will dump you all back in the wild as soon as it's over. Easier is jumping in with strangers, but none of the tracks/games hold enough allure to inspire much of this.
I went back for a go on a three-lap race on perhaps the only decent track - a big, twisting, crossing over track with a proper loop-the-loop. Versus three AI players I found myself quickly in the lead, and by lap three was doing splendidly. Hurrah! Until I noticed two of the AI cars parked at the bottom of the loop, just sat there, watching. OR MAYBE DOGGING? We will never know.
Will you support Eurogamer?
We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.