gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Toybox Turbos PC Review

Are you, like me, old enough to recall a little Micro Machines tie-in gem on the SNES? It was, in my humble opinion, every bit as great a racer as Mario Kart but with a whole different outlook on the genre. The endearing, top-down graphics portrayed the tiny toy cars racing over snooker tables, sliding across breakfast tables, tussling through tool-sheds and generally causing tiny mayhem.

It’s sealed in my mental hall of fame as one of my favourite games of all time, and although I’ve tried to recapture that feeling with various top-down racers throughout the years, and even slightly similar propositions such as ReVolt ( on the Dreamcast ) and the not-racer-but-similar-feeling Toy Commander ( also on the Dreamcast, I think I’m stuck in 1999, send help! ) nothing has ever come close… until.

Well… It wasn’t until my sister excitedly announced the existence of Toybox Turbos over WhatsApp that I sat up and paid attention. “It’s a Micro Machines remake,” she exclaimed. And, well, it sort-of-is. Although I think the words “spiritual successor” are more fitting, or correct, or something.

Toybox Turbos isn’t just a Micro Machines remake, however, it’s a really, truly, wondrous and near-perfect update to the neglected classic that seems to effortlessly capture absolutely every detail of the original, and bring it bang up-to-date with beautiful, but still charmingly cartoonish graphics.

Newbies, rest assured that if you’ve never played and loved any of the original Micro Machines, then the approachable, cutesy appeal of the game will likely still draw you in. You’ll soon be singing its praises with us indoctrinated enthusiasts.

After downloading and installing Toybox Turbos via Steam and having a few days to play, I can confidently say that it not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. It also frustrated the hell out of me, but in that “now I’ve finally beaten that gorram boss vehicle I actually feel like I’ve achieved something” way. Toybox Turbos so quickly delivered on its glitzy promise of “being awesome” that I bought my sister a copy only about an hour after installing my own.

The expectation-exceeding came not only from the dizzying variety of vehicles ( although I was admittedly disappointed to find there are no boats or helicopters…yet? ) but from the seemingly endless parade of playable tracks. Okay, each track is pretty short but at least 3 times I caught myself thinking “this has got to be the last track” only to find yet more beyond it. That’s a good value proposition for a game that costs £11.99 ( or £8.99 if you join forces with 3 friends to get the 4-pack ).

All the classic tracks are there, from the breakfast table, to the snooker table and then beyond into more outlandish and creative environments. Tracks have shortcuts, sharp corners leading to deathly falls, hazards from slippery goo to passing trains, jumps and more. Basically, everything that made the original Micro Machines games so addictive is faithfully recreated and then enhanced without compromising the game.

Weapons make a comeback for all vehicles, and you’ll find everything from hammers, which are actually a pretty damned good weapon, to machine guns which are really, really hard to use effectively and will often make you miss a corner or a jump instead of taking out your target. These are a welcome addition, and especially potent in multiplayer where simply parking up and waiting for your opponents to round the corner for a swiftly placed hammer blow is a hilarious way to mix things up.

Single-player is every bit as good as multiplayer, I sat down with it for a few hours and felt joy, frustration, more frustration, livid, raging, uncontrollable frustration and finally pure joy as I downed a boss with a deathly combination of honed driving skills and cheap weapon kills. There are actually 6 game modes to flesh out the single-player, including classic racing, the Micro Machines trademark “elimination”, an evil, 2d-platformer like wall-of-death that forces you to race quickly and accurately away from its clutches, time trials and more. These, in combination with the variety of tracks and vehicles and the progression through each vehicle type, really helped mix up the game and keep it fresh from track to track.

Toybox Turbos packs a lot of bang for your buck, but there’s one looming problem with this otherwise brilliant game- it absolutely reeks of future potential for DLC. Now I’d say that’s fair because the game is packed with content for the get-go, but it’s easy to feel a little swindled when things you wanted to see in the initial release ( boats, anyone! ) are tacked on as an add-on pack. To be fair, Codemasters have left very, very little room for improvement and I’d be genuinely surprised if they came up with an add-on pack soon.

Where the game does fall short, however, is multiplayer. The touted 6 game modes really don’t translate well to multiplayer, and thus only one actually makes the cut. There are plenty of inventive and fun game modes for multiplayer out there, but Codemasters seem to have left this aspect of the game somewhat of a dangling loose end. Toybox Turbos hits hard from the offset, and is a great pick-up-and-play game that’s a surefire hit for a casual evening gaming romp, but it lacks in lasting appeal and thus I throw down the gauntlet and hope Codemasters can bash out some improvements without making them a paid-for add-on.

If I were going to attribute a score to this game, I’d give it 8/10- add helicopters, boats ( plus levels to suit ), and default to top-down camera and I’ll be persuaded to make that 10. Call me a fanboy if you will, but I haven’t had this much fun in a racing game since Star Wars Pod Racer.

Oh, and we took video of our potty-mouthed racing sessions- hopefully we’ll get that uploaded soon, but until now if you want to see what the game looks like… well, you know how Google works right?

Sunday, November 16th, 2014, Computer Gaming, PC.