By striving only for simplicity, Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem misses a prime opportunity to deliver that nostalgic miniature racing experience fans were hoping for in virtual reality
Growing up, I never had the possibility to play with Micro Machines and building custom tracks as the toys weren't available and if they were, we simply couldn't afford it. But I remember watching ads on Italia 1 for Micro Machines and how jealous I was of the kids in the ad that were playing with the toys. So when I got a code to review Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem, I was hoping that it could capture that nostalgic toy racing chaos in virtual reality. While certain elements show promise, poor execution holds it back from truly delivering the Micro Machines experience I was hoping for.
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The track building provides some light entertainment value. Placing plastic track pieces around both virtual environments and your real room using the Quest's mixed reality is an entertaining way to spend time, even more so if you are a kid who loves this stuff. However, the controls make this only modestly enjoyable. The track pieces snap to other pieces or in set points in space and that feels limiting. Moving and rotating track sections feels awkward and unintuitive as to rotate them you move the analog stick, but it doesn't always rotate it the way you move it. Having said all that, with the few track pieces that you have available and with a lot of patience you can create some crazy tracks.
There are a couple of different gameplay modes, like Time Trials, where you earn more stars the faster you complete it, Demolition mode where your only job is to "destroy" as many other tiny objects placed around the rooms and a Stunt mode, where you have to do stunts and jumps tot earn more points. There's also a Sandbox mode where you can build whatever you want. Then there's the MR mode (mixed reality) where you build tracks in your real environment and the game automatically adds traps and whatnot. These modes are cool, but due to reasons I will explain shortly, it feels like the overall experience could have been way better.
Where the game truly disappoints is in the racing itself. "Driving", if we can even call it that hence the quotes, your tiny car requires only accelerating and braking with the trigger, making for an incredibly shallow experience that fails to generate any real excitement. There are no other cars to race against, it's just your tiny car driving down the track. It's now a quite passive experience of simply not crashing by minding the throttle.
The three camera options also leave much to be desired. The options where the camera follows the car leads to motion sickness and the "floating in god-mode" one has clunky controls. Apart from teleportiing, you can grab into nothing to move into the environment while using the left stick, not the right stick as it should be, to snap rotate left or right, doesn't feel good, especially when you try to move around the rooms and follow your tiny car. I just found that just sitting and watching the TV which displays a 3rd person camera of the car on the track was the most comfortable way to experience the game. But if you do that, what's the point of the game being in VR in the first place?
As for the progression in the game, while currently there are only three available virtual rooms you can play and create tracks in, there are quite a few cars, car parts and cosmetics to unlock with the stars that you are awarded for completing levels. I really loved the whole part where you point what Micro Machines cars and parts you want to buy from the vending boxes thing cause that fully utilizes the whole being in VR thing.
For young children seeking light entertainment, Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem may prove modestly enjoyable. But if you were hoping for this game to capture that nostalgic feeling of playing with Micro Machines as a kid, you might be disappointed. With more ambition and dedication to recreating what made the series great, this could have been so much more. Thanks for reading!
The game was reviewed on a Quest 3 using a review copy provided by PR. Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem is out now on Meta Quest and PCVR.