This week, we shall reminisce over an old Sega Megadrive/Genesis, SNES and DOS classic called Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament. I’m going with this one, because it made use of one of Codemasters’ greatest creations of all time, the J-Cart. The game was also released on Game Boy and Game Gear.
Everyone knows Micro Machines, and we all remember the adverts on TV for the toys that were released, with John Moschitta, Jr., also known as “Motormouth” John Moschitta who narrated over 100 commercials for the toys. He is recognised in the Guinness Book of Records for being the fastest talker in the world, but let’s get on with the game, shall we?
Micro Machines saw the players race across every day environments in miniature road vehicles, boats and helicopters. That could be in the garden, on the dinner table, on a snooker table, around the toilet seat, in the bathtub or on the floors. Some of the level designs were just fantastic, making use of every day household items and acting as ramps or obstacles. Spilt liquids on the table caused you to slide, or some rogue garden peas might cause a bumpy ride. Bang into a butter knife and you might lose your position in the race.
I didn’t know this in my youth, but another version of Micro Machines 2 was released which added a course creator feature, although I have memories of building my own tracks, so I must have played this one on the Mega Drive/Genesis. The feature was part of the MS DOS version initially, and the re-release on console added new tracks and updated older ones. Back in the day before downloadable patches were a thing.
Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament was also made to be a fun party game for friends. With the J-cart, which you can read about here, the game allowed you to plug in two extra controllers directly into the game cartridge itself, making the game a four player experience. This negated the use of the multi-tap, which other games used to add a four player experience. Going even further again, the number of players could be doubled, with Codemasters letting players split a controller amongst two players; one steering and braking with the d-pad, and the other player steering and braking with the three face buttons, A, B and C.
After Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, the series took a new direction, traversing into the 3D environment on PlayStation. The games have since vanished, with their last appearance being in 2006 on PlayStation and Xbox. A spiritual successor came along in the form of Toybox Turbos, released in 2014. While it dropped the Micro Machines name, it plays like any of the 3D games that were released previously, offering simplistic gameplay controls and a variety of vehicles and locations to race with.