No matter how much you dress it up, Toybox Turbos is by and large the resurrection of Micro Machines under a new identity; you only have to take one look at a gameplay trailer or screenshot to see that. Needless to say, the top-down racer is an excellent revival of a game series that looked all but dead and buried.
Developed by Codemasters (who created the original Micro Machines video games), Toybox Turbos consists of players driving miniature vehicles across traditional household settings in both single player and multiplayer game modes.
The title’s single-player campaign is broken up into stages, each of which consists of a series of events. These include Countdown (a race against the clock as players collect clocks in order to keep the timer going), Escape (in which you attempt to outrun a tide of washing up water) and Overtake (where players aim to overtake as many AI vehicles as possible within three laps). Not to mention the classic race and time trial events.
To successfully progress to the next stage, players must overcome all the events to unlock a boss battle. Otherwise known as Elimination, boss battles use the classic Micro Machines formula of earning points, which are obtained either by edging ahead of your opponent or by eliminating them. Whereas the boss battles prove to be more frustrating than challenging due to the large difficulty spikes, the variety of events on offer ensures the single-player campaign doesn’t become a long and tedious affair on the whole.
Scattered throughout each of the events in the campaign are gold coins, which can be used to purchase new vehicles. Toybox Turbos boasts 35 brilliantly designed vehicles in total, ranging from taxis and milk floats to bulldozers and sports cars. The fairly loose handling of the vehicles allows players to slide round corners with ease, though there’s enough traction to maintain control.
Toybox Turbos features 18 tracks all-in-all, spanning a range of environments including kitchen worktops, school desks, science labs and snooker tables. Each one incorporates a number of shortcuts and obstacles, which include bouncing on a giant jelly, popping out of a toaster and having to navigate round debris such as cheesy puffs and mushrooms. There’s a real sense of nostalgia that Micro Machines fans will appreciate.
Also reigniting the nostalgia is the game’s weapons. Dotted throughout each track in competitive events are purple gift-wrapped boxes which, upon collection, unlock a weapon at random. These range from over-sized mallets and electric blasts to roof-mounted guns and mines. Whereas the implementation of weapons will please retro fans and add to the competitiveness of the title, the arsenal feels particularly outdated, especially in comparison to the likes of Mario Kart.
Despite all its strong points, Toybox Turbos comes with its fair share of issues. Firstly, the dynamic camera can be temperamental and indecisive at times. Whilst Codemasters has included a couple of alternative top-down camera modes in an attempt to emulate the traditional style, they don’t feel natural in this modern era of gaming.
One of the features that Micro Machines was renowned for was its incredibly strong multiplayer, although it’s a shame the same can’t be said for Toybox Turbos. Despite the single-player featuring an assortment of events, Codemasters has made the rather bizarre decision to only include Elimination in the multiplayer (both locally and over Xbox Live). The multiplayer is still highly enjoyable in short bursts, especially with a group of mates, though the solitary game mode wears thin quickly, even with the generous helping of tracks.
Nevertheless, the main problem with Toybox Turbos is the poor replay value. Upon completion of the campaign, which can be done and dusted within a couple of hours, players can either improve their times and scores on the single-player events or delve into the largely deserted multiplayer, both of which are largely unappealing. While this problem is likely to be rectified through downloadable content, it’s a disappointment to see more wasn’t included in the basic package.
In terms of visuals, Toybox Turbos retains the bright and cheery graphics which nicely complements the game’s light-hearted style. It’s a similar case with the audio, as the title incorporates a range of sound effects, such as the sound of a xylophone playing as you drive over it, accompanied by a charming soundtrack.