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Micro Maniacs
"A seemingly ordinary bath tub is transformed into a narrow oval race-track where soap, a sponge and the taps become hazardous obstacles"
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Developer  Codemasters Game Type  Racing
Distributor  Codemasters Review Date  Oct 00
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Micro Maniacs is the sequel to one of most popular multi-player arcade racing games ever created - Micro Machines V3. It follows the same general format as its predecessor in that each player controls a tiny little character that must race around various areas of the inside and outside of a huge house. The major difference is that vehicles have been replaced by weird little people that run rather than drive.

Given the scale of the tiny Maniacs, ordinary household objects appear immense in size and can become almost impossible race hazards on the tracks. For example milk cartons suddenly become towering skyscrapers, barbecues become acres of sizzling lava, kitchen sinks become as wide as oceans and an seemingly ordinary bath tub switches into a narrow oval where soap, a sponge and the taps become hazardous obstacles.

Once inside the game the racing circuits are all set in a true 3D modeled world allowing the player to run under and over a multitude of obstacles. Many circuits permit you to explore the multi-level track designs and even leave the racing line to search out the many hidden power-ups that are scattered around the scenery.

The actual courses you must follow are marked out in various forms, all of which fit into the surrounding scenario. For example the route around the edge of the bath is lined with toothpaste... one slip and it's into the tub alongside the floating rubber duck and giant sponge. Running through the kitchen the race line is made up with trails of hundreds and thousands (tiny weeny balls of colored cake decoration). Leaping from bench to bench would be quite daunting had it not been for the perfectly positioned line of wobbly jellies to bounce across. On one occasion a severe drop is avoided by grabbing and sliding down the flex from the steam iron. "JERONIMO!"

Once again Codemasters have given us that little bit extra as the sound effects has also been enhanced with some nice little touches. Each of the characters now have their own battle cry and seeming that most races take part on foot a lot of their time has obviously been spent capturing the pitter-patter of tiny feet over different surfaces. I say only "most races take part on foot" because occasionally your Maniac will hop on board a tiny jet boat or even ride a buzzing bumble bee through the garden. Wonderful!

Having been a big fan of Micro Machines since the early nineties I must admit to being a little circumspect about the transition from foot down to feet first. Thankfully, after barely a couple of laps you forget all about the change in mode of transport as you become completely wrapped up in the compulsive gameplay. I wouldn't say that it was better... more an equal alternative.

For those of you new to the Micro phenomena I will briefly run through the idea of the the game. The rest of you can go and play for a few moments. The rules depend entirely on the game mode selected. During the single player Challenge mode your chosen character simply races against four CPU controlled opponents over a 3-lap race. Finish in the top two places and you may advance through a course grid unlocking new circuits as you go. Once revealed these new circuits may be played in multi-player mode.

Multi-player action is what Micro titles are all about and that's why there are three further modes in this game. Vs, Time Trial and Vs Teams. Up to eight players can play at the same time on one single screen. That's correct... there's no splitting of the screen. But how? Simple! All eight runners line up at the start. The idea is to race all others off the back of the screen. Once they disappear from view... they're out. The last player visible on the screen gains the point, while the first player to leave the screen loses a point. The first player to fill out their points line is deemed the winner. It's fast. It's furious. It's highly addictive fun.

Of course if winning a running race was all there was to it then boredom could possibly soon set in. All characters can jump, climb and barge into one another, but to keep things much more interesting scattered all around the circuit (on and off the race line) are a selection of power-ups. In Micro Machines V3 these represented a hidden weapon, such as a shield or a giant mallet. No more! Each character has a range of unique special weapons but they can only be unlocked and used by collecting power-ups. The more power-up's collected and saved... the more powerful the special weapon will be.

As I mentioned weapons now depend entirely on the character selected, so Twister has a whirling spin attack, MawMaw uses his tongue to grab and occasionally swallow his opponent, Beatbox a sonic boom and Mesme has a hypnotic grab. Each character also has a secondary special attack which is used for further on-track bullying such as plasma punches, lethal yo-yos and fireball farts.

Game environments include kitchens, workshops, bathrooms, toyrooms, science labs, the greenhouse and out into the garden to race over the flowerbeds and into the ponds. You can even take part in a race over the bodywork of a motor car. Watch those windscreen wipers though!

8 Characters to choose from with 4 more to unlock

32 Themed Tracks

Crazy power-ups for each player including 'Black Holes' and 'Fireball Farts'

Multiple modes of play with Tournaments, Time Trials and Multi-player games

Two players can share 1 joypad allowing 4 players to race together with a standard 2 joypad Playstation setup

• Number of Disks: 1
• Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 1
• Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 4
• Multi-tap compatible (max players): Yes (8)
• Link-cable compatible (max players): No
• Split screen multi-player option (max players): No
• Other accessories: None
• Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes
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Martin   "Micro Maniacs is one of those 'must buy' titles, especially if you are fond of having a few friends around for an evenings gaming. Because the pace is so fast and furious nobody waits too long before they are allowed back in again. You don't even need extra peripherals to join in because two pads may be shared between four players.

As a single player game there is ample to do with many tournaments and challenges against computer controlled characters. It's just that if you miss out on the multi-player madness, then your missing out on half the game. Go get some!"
Graphics  19/20
Playability  47/50
Sound  8/10
Lastability  18/20
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