Micro Maniacs is Miniature Mayhem
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Codemasters have joined forces with FoxKids.com to bring us the small and almost perfectly formed Micro Maniacs Racing. This game has all the familiar elements of its predecessor, Micro Machines.
Twelve miniature mutants, four of whom have to be unlocked before you can play with them, race through various giant environments. Actually the environments, like kitchen tables, bathrooms and the back yard are normal size, but since the mutants are so small, even a mundane object like a kitchen table can be an incredible obstacle to tackle.
Each character has a special power, which can be used against the other racers - "fireball farts" being a particularly effective one that I enjoyed.
Micro Maniacs is a top-down racing game with 40 lovely looking 3D tracks, some of which have to be unlocked in single-player mode. The environments range from the kitchen sink and potting shed, to a seventies bedroom complete with groovy colors.
Some of the courses are raced with vehicles, such as skateboards and powerboats. My favorite involves flying around the garden on the back of a bee.
Single-player mode unlocks new tracks and characters as you complete courses, but due to the nature of the game, it's not too engaging playing solo. It gets frustrating playing against the computer, because the other mutants give flawless performances, as you tumble off the butter knife that's acting as a bridge. And not because it is covered in butter either. A little tweaking of the AI could remedy this. I don't mind a challenge, but give me a bit of a chance.
Micro Maniacs works best as a multiplayer game. It has a variety of modes, ranging from team and tournament through multiplayer Vs and time trial. All players in this mode can have a great time. You can sabotage a race by using your special powers against each other for example, so anything goes. There's nothing like sending your friends off the edge of a kitchen table with a yo-yo. Watch them fall, and then get moving to make up time.
The game is beautifully presented, with humorous attention to detail, like having to avoid window wipers as you race across a car. Okay, so it's not ideal for those lonely nights when you are by yourself, but get your mates round the console and it gets really, really fun. The game earns four GiN gems, with the note that it is far more fun to play with others.
Chella is GiN's UK-based product tester. A self-confessed Cornish pasty addict, Chella is never happier than when she's slacking off to play a five-gem game. : firstname.lastname@example.org.