Before you read
I am very familiar with both racing games, top-down racing games and also the Micro Machines franchise which this game is essentially part of despite not sharing the name. Before I started writing this review, I made sure to get all stars on all missions, as well as give online a shot. I have played the Steam version for this review. There won’t be a history/trivia segment in this review because honestly… I just couldn’t find anything. Also no music to listen to since all the soundtrack pieces I could find were 8 minutes long. I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come…
You know what I love? Micro Machines. Top-down racing with small vehicles on furniture and rooms in the house such as a pool table or the kitchen always felt so much fun to do. I picked up Toybox Turbos without any knowledge about the game except that it was made by Codemasters and then I played it and… yeah, this is Micro Machines, just with a different name. Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t a game in that franchise however, I was still intrigued to play it since it’s exactly the kind of game I love. So let’s take a look at Toybox Turbos and see if it is worthy of being amongst the Micro Machines games!
Budget Micro Machines
I don’t think it’s a bad idea to start with saying that this game very much feels like a budget game. It was sold from the get-go for 15 euros as a digitally-exclusive title so that statement is not necessarily an insult. And frankly, it very much feels like a game that was made during breaks while the developers were working on bigger titles. And why specifically am I saying this? Good question dear Watson, here’s a cookie. What I mean by this is that there is literally only ONE mode for single-player and that is the main campaign–a set of missions that include time trial, elimination races etcetera. There’s no way to do a single race or time trials for a leaderboard. The only way to do single races is with local- or online multiplayer, but at the cost of the only race mode being elimination so you still can’t just race normally. I find this to be a really odd decision, as single races are often the base game of a racing game since you can practice maps and mess around with different cars. If you want to practice a map in particular now, have fun finding it somewhere in the missions or being stuck with other people without the ability to have a normal non-elimination race. There are no cups either to race in, and none to create either for online play. I’m not saying that what we have is bad, but it sure is barebones. The selection of tracks and cars also aren’t that big, with cars being limited to a specific category anyway so you often only have 5 cars at a time to choose from. Customization is also one of the first things advertised for the game but eh, it’s just basic colours. A nice harmless addition, but also the most basic one. But putting aside how much of a budget title it is, how does it actually play?
Classic Micro Machines
Fortunately, the game plays exactly like how a classic tabletop racing game should play. The cars feel just like you’re controlling an AC car, just with the added benefit of you not having to press buttons on a remote and steer it with a wheel, and the vehicle being mounted with guns and mines. They control really tight, and there are three camera options to choose from of which two are top-down to make them look even more like a Micro Machines game. I would have liked a camera option that was more behind the car however. There’s always enough time to see upcoming obstacles and turns so it’s more a tiny improvement that I would have liked to see. A more zoomed-out camera also wouldn’t hurt as elimination races now force you to actually race out of the camera sight to win which can be a hindrance. The weapons are ones that we are familiar with since they were in previous Micro Machines games and are overall pretty nice still, just never saw the point of the electrical coil as it did nothing. I would’ve liked an indicator showing how much health a car has leftover though. But aside from these improvements yeah, you have a classic tabletop racing game here that controls pretty well. The cars only have three unchangeable stats (speed, handling and weight) but that isn’t much of a problem since you can only select up to 5 cars at once anyway with each being strong in one field. The cars are purchasable with coins you get from the main campaign which you will be swimming in so they’re an easy unlock. The main campaign is split up into multiple categories with the most distinct difference being that you use specific vehicles in that category. For example, only construction vehicles. In these categories, there are about six missions with varying race modes like the ones I’ve mentioned before. You can get 3 stars in the missions if you rank first or achieve a specific goal but as far as I know, getting 3 stars is only necessary for an achievement and doesn’t add anything else besides more coins the higher your rating. They are all short missions though, which is good for this setup since you can easily reset when you know you’re not getting all stars.
Nice maps in Micro Machines
That title makes no sense but I had to stick with the running joke, so please laugh and say you find it funny. Makes me really happy. But yeah, there isn’t necessarily a huge pool of maps in Toybox Turbos, but the ones that are there are of good quality. What I mostly like about them is how well they execute the theme of racing through everyday furniture and living rooms. They are more lively than ever and have a pretty aesthetic to look at. Desks have paperclips lying around everywhere and liners that serve as bridges, and there are card houses on the pool table. Spilt milk or a manmade volcano will make you lose control over your car as well so be sure to watch out for them. There are also more than enough shortcuts to take for the observant player. I haven’t been super positive so far in this review but trust me, I did have fun going through these maps. My only gripe would be that I want them to be bigger and longer. It’s sometimes very tough to surpass other racers on a small road, especially when there are four racers on the field at once. I also don’t really remember there being any maps longer than one minute for all three laps, and if there are they aren’t much longer than that. Because they are so short, it’s a little bit tougher to recover from failures. I don’t think Toybox Turbos is a difficult game overall though, but it is a disadvantage to shorter levels.
Toybox Turbos is not a bad game regardless of how critical I was throughout this review, but your expectations should not be higher than a budget Micro Machines. The game controls good and the maps are lively and fun to go through albeit short, but it’s also extremely limited in what you can do. There is literally only the campaign for single player; no single races or time trials. And while online plays seamlessly from what I’ve tried, the only mode you can play is elimination races in a very barebones setup. You can have a fun time with Toybox Turbos as the core game works well, but you should match your expectations to what the game is priced at. I’ll only recommend this game if you’re looking for an easy game to complete or to have fun with friends for a short amount of time.
Was I too harsh on Toybox Turbos? Eh, possibly. It’s a harmless game, but I just expect more from Codemasters, a company that has an expertise in creating great racing games. Still, it did scratch that Micro Machines itch so it’s not all negative here, as the fun score reflects. This review was also a lot shorter than I was aiming it to be but there’s just… not a lot to talk about. There’s literally not even anything I could find on why this game was made and why it’s not called Micro Machines. Oh well.
Games to play if you like Toybox Turbos
- Super Toy Cars – I have not played this game so I can’t speak for how good it is, but it looks very, very similar to Toybox Turbos and the Micro Machines franchise.
- Micro Machines – Of course I’m going to recommend the original–and superior–games! Though I have only played the first game actually, which I still very much recommend.
- Hot Wheels Micro Racers – Can’t really talk about Micro Machines without bringing up the direct competitor. Hot Wheels actually has a very longrunning video games series as well, though Micro Racers comes closest to what Micro Machines embodies if you ask me.
Question of the Review
What is your favourite video game based on real-life merchandise or brands such as Micro Machines and Legos?